Cod Cakes

cod cake

When I think back on my school days gone by, apart from memories of my friends and teachers; laughter and fun on the playground; the other most memorable moments are of school lunches. I guess even back then, at a young age, I had an interest in food. Of course, most memories are just plain bad, because let’s face it, school lunch is pretty awful even today. My children always complain about the awful smells that emanate from their cafeterias but what’s really sad is that Boulder Valley schools have the better school lunches! Their meals are all sourced locally and are organic. Even then, my children refuse to eat their cafeteria food and I have to make packed lunches every day.

Still, some of the best puddings and desserts I remember are from my school days. There were a few mains that I enjoyed; the fried fish on Fridays with chips and peas was always a favourite. My elementary school lunch was awful though. The convent had the food catered from a school lunch caterer, I believe and it was just disgusting. The days we had boiled Brussels sprouts were intolerable; even to sit in the classroom with that smell was a punishment, let alone eat them at lunch time. It is only recently that I have started making Brussels sprouts. The memory of the stinky, boiled ones from school turned me off them for years. Thinking back on it, since our nuns were the sweetest people I ever met and were never harsh or berated us in any way, I believe their secret weapon of choice for punishment was food!

One such punishment were these fish cakes. Whether there was any actual fish in there or just fish essence (they smelled like fish) is debatable; all I know is that they left a lot be desired. I guess this fish cake idea was the caterers way of up scaling the humble fish finger…like 8 year olds really care! Whatever the reasoning behind serving fish cakes to a bunch of primary children, all I can remember is that they were pretty awful, but disturbingly edible.

At this point everyone is wondering why I would want to relive the punishment by recreating these fish cakes. Like I said, they were edible…meaning they were not good but you didn’t mind eating them! I wanted to upgrade their quality a bit and add another seafood dish to my repertoire. My full intention was to post this for Lent but all the other fun holidays got in the way so by the time I had made the desserts for Valentine’s Day, Almond Kulfi and Lemon Mascarpone Roulade, the poor Cod Cakes got left on the shelf. These were too good not to share and I didn’t want to wait till next Lent to share them.

I got a great deal on some good looking, fresh wild caught cod fillets but I have also made these before with good quality, olive oil packed, tinned tuna. They too came out great. I served them with a lovely spring greens salad with blackberries, red peppers, and cucumbers and………sautéed Brussels sprouts!

cod cake

I highly recommend using Panko crumbs rather than ordinary breadcrumbs. I have used regular breadcrumbs before and the Panko just elevate these Cod Cakes to another level. They are crisp, light and perfect; nothing like my school lunch.

cod cake

Cod Cakes


Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 12

  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 11/2 lbs/680g wild cod fillets, sustainably caught
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, split between fish and sauté
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups(approx) Panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup(approx) plain flour, to dust
  • 1 egg, beaten to coat cakes
  • oil for frying
  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃
  2. Drizzle the cod fillets with two tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until the cod is cooked through and flakes, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. Boil the potatoes until tender and then drain and mash them
  6. Set aside to cool.
  7. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the red bell peppers, onion and garlic.
  8. They just need to be softened a little, no need to brown, about 10 minutes.
  9. Put aside to cool.
  10. Once all the separate components have cooled, break up the fish into small chunks and add to the potatoes.
  11. Add the sautéed peppers and onions, draining out the oil if necessary.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. Add the cayenne pepper for a little spicy kick, can leave it out if desired.
  14. Mix in the parsley.
  15. Gently mix and knead the mixture together and portion out into 12 balls.
  16. Shape them into little cake shapes and chill for about 15 minutes.
  17. Take out the chilled cakes and bread them before frying.
  18. Dust the cod cakes with flour first, then dip in the egg and then cover with the Panko.
  19. Repeat with the rest of the cod cakes and let them sit on a rack before frying.
  20. Heat the oil in a large skillet.
  21. We don't need to deep fry, just a ½ inch/2 cm oil will suffice.
  22. We just need to shallow fry till the Panko is golden brown and the cakes have heated through.
  23. Once the cakes are golden brown on each side, drain on paper towels or a wire rack.
  24. Eat while warm.

cod cake

What do you remember about your childhood school lunches or any other food related memory? Have you been able to eat foods you hated as a child, as an adult?

Wishing everyone a fabulous, sun filled weekend!

  1. These look about as far removed from school lunches as you can get – really beautiful 🙂 I know what you mean about the strength of childhood food memories though, they are a big component of my school day memories too – almost always packed lunches in my case.
    Kari @ bite-sized thoughts recently posted..In my kitchen – April 2013My Profile

    • Thanks Amy! I have to admit, they are a bit spoilt with food and know good stuff from bad!

  2. My early experiences with Brussels sprouts weren’t good – I had the ones that were boiled to death, too. I used to hate them, until I tasted one that was properly cooked. Same deal with fish cakes – I had too many that weren’t well prepared at all. But good ones are wonderful. And these look wonderful! Really fun post – thanks.
    john@kitchenriffs recently posted..Caesar SaladMy Profile

    • Thanks John! It’s good though that we can get over the bad experiences and try again!

  3. Perfect tea time snack,Nazneen…My mom’s mutton gravy mixed with rice was a big hit with my friends at school.Love those days.As a new mom,am still wondering,how would I manage to prepare different recipes for lunch once my kid grows up..:-)

    • Thanks Nisha! Yum, I wouldn’t mind being your friend at school for some of your mums rice and salan!

    • Thanks Sonali! Your Thai flavoured sound great too, I am going to give those a try next time!

  4. Your cod cakes look fantastic, Nazneen, and you photographed them beautifully. I like that you had the courage to go back to a dish that you didn’t like as a child and made it something that you would enjoy. For many, especially with fish, if the child dislikes it, so will the adult s/he becomes. Way to go!
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Bourbon & Cola Sauced HamMy Profile

    • Thanks John! As you know I am not a huge seafood eater, so it did take some nerves on my part to try and remake them. They turned out really well and both the tuna and cod versions are great. I am sure any fish can be used.

  5. I wonder who are the people that eat in cafeteria? When sometimes I tell my daughter to buy lunch from cafeteria, she just refuses now I know the reason why?
    I love all fish work into a cake and this will sure work for me.Unfortunately I can not use panko.

    • I don’t know who eats there! When I made these, I was watching my gluten intake, so I didn’t bread or flour mine, I dipped it in egg and fried them. It was still very good.

  6. this looks delicious! i think there’s a lot to be said about a crispy outside and soft flaky insides especially for fish 🙂 Also like that you;ve added “sustainably caught” behind the cod in the ingredients list, we all need to be more mindful of where we get our fish from, no matter how delicious it is!
    shuhan recently posted..Herrings, roasted with hot stuffMy Profile

    • Thanks Shuhan. Yes I do like a crispy exterior and soft and cream inside. Try very hard to make sure my fish is wild caught and sustainable. I couldn’t eat it if it wasn’t.

    • That’s what I seem to be finding out! My nuns were lovely ladies so sweet and caring. There was one who a bit scary but even she was ok.

    • Thanks Tanja! They are good the next day too, my daughter enjoyed the one we had left over. They make a good sandwich too.

  7. Oooh! I certainly remember fish days! That all pervading smell of boiled cod, hard on the outside and well done in the middle. It came dripping in yellow water and utterly inedible! These cod cakes however look delicious and a different world of food altogether. It’s fun to reinvent those school dishes. Why did they do them so badly?! GG
    glamorous glutton recently posted..Chocolate decorating With Rococo Chocolates And AchicaMy Profile

    • Thank goodness I didn’t have the boiled fish you are talking about! That sounds worse than the Brussels sprouts!

  8. Hello Nanzeen, My boys are the same way, they say that their school lunches are horrible. Maybe even a little worse in HK than in Japan or in the States. It is the whole fear factor issue… chicken feet, 1000 year old eggs, congee, you know all the menu items any teenager would have nightmares about. LOL. You cod fish looks so light and crispy and a great alternative to soup, sandwiches and the normal school lunches. Do you heat it before they go to school? Take care, BAM
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted..Veggie Crisps with Chestnut Hummus DipMy Profile

    • Thanks Bobbi! There are never any left to take to school! My children prefer sandwiches to anything else because they are quick and easy to eat. Kids have so little time for lunch.