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Nan's fish cakes

Newfoundland cod cakes were and still are a staple growing up on the East Coast of Canada. Traditionally made with salt cod and crumbled saltine crackers, now they have advanced to fresh cooked fish and potatoes. I’m picky about my cod cakes though, for two very specific reasons. They often have: 1) WAY too much potato and not enough fish. 2) Not enough seasoning, making for bland fish cakes. These downhome favorites, on the other hand, are packed with fish seasoned to perfection—match made in heaven for leftover fish and potatoes.


  • 2 cups (about 3/4 lb) cooked mashed potatoes (see substitutions)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery tops (see substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and/or parsley stems
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (see substitutions)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 good pinches of salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 1 lb cooked boneless skinless salmon, cod, trout (any white fish really), flaked (see substitutions)
  • 1/4 cup oil or butter


  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • Chili powder
  • Citrus zest
  • Favorite hot sauce

For serving:

  • Chow Chow
  • Best tartar sauce


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes with the onions, celery tops, parsley, dill, paprika, nutmeg, and any optional add-ins.
  2. Mix in the egg, salt, and pepper. Fold in the flaked fish.
  3. Using your hands, portion out about 1/4 cup of the mixture. Form it into a fish cake about two to three inches in diameter and one inch thick and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. If you have the time, place in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow them to firm up and hold their shape better during frying.
  4. Preheat a large cast-iron pan or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and fry the cakes until well browned on both sides, seven to nine minutes total.

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