Cod: Fish Cakes
Source of Recipe
From "See You on Sunday" by Sam Sifton
"I used to make fish cakes mostly with cod, using the first ragged fillets cut after offshore fishing trips for freezer meat. But one day I made them with tautog instead, and it was like opening a door to a new world, one where I ate well without feeling guilty about contributing to the collapse of a once-plentiful species. Truth is, you can make fish cakes out of almost any flaky-fleshed fish. Just poach the meat in lemony water scented with bay leaf and peppercorns, then add it to a New England-style mirepoix of sautéed onions and celery. Use eggs and cracker crumbs to help bind everything together in a drift of spices, then put the resulting patties into the refrigerator for awhile to 'set.' Adding a light smear of mayonnaise to the exterior of the cakes just before you cook them will encourage the most glorious crust. I like them served with a thatch of green salad or a neat pile of slaw. If you're feeling exceptionally grand, make them a little smaller than usual and float them on bowls of chowder."
List of Ingredients
◦ 8 peppercorns
◦ 2 bay leaves
◦ 2 lemons, cut into eighths
◦ 2 pounds cod fillets (or other flaky white fish)
◦ 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
◦ 4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and diced
◦ 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
◦ 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
◦ 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
◦ 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
◦ 4 large eggs
◦ 1 tablespoon kosher salt
◦ 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
◦ 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, Lawry's seasoned salt, or ◦ 2 teaspoons paprika and 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste
◦ 2 "sleeves" unsalted saltine crackers, crushed, or 2 heaping cups panko bread crumbs
◦ 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
◦ ½ to ¾ cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
Fill a wide, shallow pan with high sides with about 1 inch of water and set it over high heat. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, and one section of the lemon to the water, and allow to come to a bare simmer. Place the fish into this poaching liquid and cook, barely simmering, until the flesh has just begun to whiten all the way through, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a wide spatula, carefully remove the fish from the water and set aside to cool. You may need to do this in batches.
Empty the pan and return it to the stove, over medium-high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, swirling it around the pan. When the butter foams, add the celery, onions, and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until the vegetables soften and the onions turn translucent, then transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, kosher salt, pepper, and seasoning salt, then add this mixture to the bowl with the sautéed vegetables. Pour the crushed saltines over them and stir to combine. Add the parsley and stir again.
Flake the cooked fish into the binding sauce carefully, keeping the flakes as whole as you can manage, then gather them into small balls and form them into patties, 8 to 10 for a main course. Place them on a sheet pan or platter, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set.
Place a large sauté pan over high heat and add to it the oil. When the oil is shimmering, remove the fish cakes from the refrigerator and carefully sauté the patties until they are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes a side. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan. (A small smear of mayonnaise on the exterior of the patties will give them a crisp crust.) Remove the patties to a rack and keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve a cake per person, alone or with greens dressed in a lemony vinaigrette, and with the remaining wedges of lemon.