Fish Cakes, Quinoa Cakes & Homemade Tartar Sauce

By Monday, December 5, 2011

Like most people, I get on food kicks all the time. I’ll find something I like and eat it over and over until I’m practically sick of it, or until I find something new to be obsessed with. Right now, for example, I order steak tartar everywhere I go. I think I’ve had it half a dozen times since August. I’m basically a steak tartar expert now. (By the way, the steak tartar at the Main Street Cellar and Play are by far my favourites!)

Before steak tartar, I was introduced to crab cakes. I’d heard of crab cakes my whole life but I’d never tried them. The idea kinda grossed me out. Fish mashed with potatoes, breadcrumbs and eggs and fried? No thanks.

But the more against crab/fish cakes I was, the more I heard that people loved them. My Other Half, whose Dad is from Newfoundland, apparently makes amazing salt cod fish cakes. I’d heard about them for years. And I have always remembered Vince Vaughn’s reference to them in Wedding Crashers (who knows why.  I have a huge crush on him though). Anyway, eventually I decided it was time to taste for myself and see what all the hype was about.

In the summer, My Other Half took me out for date night in Manotick (one of the cutest little towns in Ontario… it reminds me of the south shore of Nova Scotia). Lots of people had told us to try the Black Dog Bistro, so we did. It was here that I first tried crab cakes. And my mind was blown.

I couldn’t believe I’d gone my whole life without eating these delicious things. I gobbled them up. They were heaven – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, flavourful, filling and served with an Asian dipping sauce with a hint of a kick. I was sold. Crab cakes were rocking my world.

And so started the obsession. I tried crab cakes everywhere (although I’ve decided my favourites were at the Village Cafe and the Black Dog Bistro, for sure). Eventually I decided I just had to make them myself. Take a wild guess where I found a recipe.

Yes, yes my friends – old faithful, Canadian Living! Surprisingly, I had flagged a recipe for Golden Fish Cakes in the March 2011 issue (I was probably going to make them for My Other Half). This recipe was in the Quick & Easy category, and it was just that – quick and easy!

Golden Fish Cakes
Adapted from Canadian Living

1 lb skinless firm white fish fillets
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tsp  vegetable oil
lemon wedges
1/3 cup Tartar sauce

In food processor, pulse fish just until in small pieces but not paste; transfer to large bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, green onions, parsley, egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Shape into eight 1/2-inch thick patties. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat; fry fish cakes, turning once, until golden and hot throughout, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

First of all, this recipe doesn’t have any potato in it, and it doesn’t need it. They cakes are delicious, crispy and hearty without it. I love anything that simply requires throwing all ingredients into my trusty food processor. It’s a nice change and really great if you’re in a rush or hungry.

Secondly, I also decided to make my own tartar sauce since we didn’t have any. I found an easy recipe online and it was perfect. Too bad the sauce only keeps for three days in the fridge!

Tartar Sauce
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and minced onion. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

These fish cakes are awesome. I will definitely make them again. Five stars!

Quinoa Patties

My new-found love for crab and fish cakes also spawned another obsession – cakes of every kind! The same week I decided to try quinoa cakes for the first time too. My favourite quinoa blogger, Wendy, is also obsessed with cakes and patties. Her recipe for Quinoa Patties proved to be very yummy. Be careful though – they’re super easy to burn! They would be even better with a chipotle mayo of some sort.

Quinoa Patties
Adapted from Cooking Quinoa

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup fresh chives, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan, grated
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup whole grain breadcrumbs
1 T extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl combine quinoa, eggs, and salt. Stir in garlic, chives, onion, cheese and cayenne pepper. Add breadcrumbs and allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Form into 1 inch patties. The mixture should be very moist. You may need to add water or extra breadcrumbs to moisten or make the mixture dryer. Place a large skillet over medium low heat. Heat olive oil. Add as many patties as your skillet can handle, being careful not to overload it so that you have trouble flipping the quinoa patties. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes your patties aren’t brown turn the heat up and cook (carefully to avoid burning) until they brown. Flip and cook for 7 more minutes on the other side.
Allow to cool on a wire rack, keeping your spatula handy to fend off family members who try to steal them.

Do you have any good fish/crab/quinoa cake recipes?

Main Street Cellar on Urbanspoon
Play Food & Wine on Urbanspoon
Black Dog Bistro on Urbanspoon
The Village Café on Urbanspoon

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