Fall in the maritimes is filled with warm aromas, brightly colored leaves, and cozy kitchens contrasting against the crisp outdoors. These things make me nostalgic for the foods of my childhood, wanting something to warm my belly and remind me of home. Many of us who are now living WildFit have let go of some of our favorite childhood foods in favor of a more natural human diet and we have seen the health benefits! However, this choice doesn’t need to be all or nothing.
Here in Nova Scotia, fish cakes and tartar sauce may as well be a staple food, but they are often deep fried, covered in breadcrumbs and full of additives that leave a person feeling bloated, sleepy and regretful. This recipe changes that by taking out the fillers, adding some fresh herbs, and by frying them in a healthier oil until they reach a crisp, golden brown. Combined with a simple, creamy homemade tartar sauce and you’ve got a delicious dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes.
Cook Time: 10 minutes.
Makes: 4 servings.
1 pound raw white fish (I used MSC certified haddock)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
½ Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of ground chili powder
Juice of ½ a lemon
⅓ cup fresh herbs (I used dill, parsley and chives)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking
¼ green pepper, chopped finely
¼ red onion, chopped finely
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
Most of the preparation for this dish takes place in the bowl of your food processor. You can make these cakes without one, but be sure to cut your fish fillets up really small so that they stay together well.
First, place chia seeds in your food processor, and pulse several times to break apart the seeds, This is not necessary, but the gelatinous fiber of the chia seeds helps to keep the patties together, so the more evenly dispersed they are the better! Add your mix of herbs and garlic to processor, and pulse until they are chopped finely.
Add the egg, coconut aminos, mustard, and lemon juice to food processor, pulsing to combine the ingredients. Add fish to the processor, chop until finely ground and mixed with other ingredients. This sounds weird to many people, but it is as if you are making burgers out of the fish, and so want it to be ‘ground’. You can substitute tinned fish here also, and it works just as well. Vegans can also use a chia egg in place of the egg (as a binder) and substitute 454 grams (one pound) of cooked chickpeas or lentils in place of the fish for a savoury veggie burger. This also makes the recipe modifiable for meatless Mondays!
Finally, to dry the cakes slightly and balance the flavors add coconut flour, chili powder, salt and pepper to the processor, and pulse to combine well. Make sure there are no clumps of flour remaining, and the dough mixture looks uniform. Let it rest for a few minutes, as the chia seed will go to work binding everything, and the coconut flour will continue to dry it out slightly. Do not let sit more than a few minutes without forming it into patties, or in may become harder to work with.
Coat your palms in a bit of olive oil and form 8 patties from the cake mix. I do this by dividing the dough into 8 evenly sized pieces on a cold plate, then forming each one. I do this by pressing the dough ball into the arch between my thumb and index finger, while pressing the top and bottom together evenly with my other hand, turning it until a patty the size and shape of a hockey puck is formed. Return each to the plate, then chill them for 10-20 minutes so the chia and flour can continue to work their magic.
In the meantime, wash your food processor and prepare the tartar sauce. I prefer my sauce to appear more rustic, so I chop the onion and green pepper with a knife, so that they are small, evenly sized chunks. You may prefer a more even sauce, in which case pop larger pieces of onion and green pepper in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until tiny pieces are chopped. In a medium sized bowl, (or your food processor) combine the chopped veggies with oil and vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes so that the vinegar can infuse the flavors of the vegetables throughout the oil. Add mayo just before serving, stirring it in evenly. This sauce will keep well in your fridge up to two weeks, and is lovely thinned down with water as a salad dressing.
When you are ready to cook, heat a large frying pan to medium. Add the oil to the pan once hot and sear each side of the fish cakes for two minutes until golden. Flip twice more, letting cook through for 2-3 more minutes each time. By flipping them more often and moving them around the pan, it is less likely they will burn. These cake patties are also great on the grill.
Serve with a side of tartar sauce, lemon and a side salad, sauteed greens or bowl of light soup. They keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy!