Codcakes – really?!

Really. And believe me, I was skeptical. My friend Liz made them first from a recipe collection she got from me! Codcakes. It’s sounds like the sort of tame and ridiculous expletive my mother sometimes uses – “Fishhooks! Codcakes!” I would never say that and if you’d asked me a week ago, I might have said I would never make codcakes either. I imagined something leaden. I worried they’d be fishy – not in a good way. Codcakes sound like the kind of thing an old person would make to use up leftovers. But Liz liked them. In fact I believe what she said was “Sarah, you have to try them. They’re totally excellent!” She was right and I was completely wrong.

I wouldn’t admit this to a true crab cake connoisseur because it would  probably lead to a long and boring argument, but for a fast last minute weeknight meal that won’t threaten your retirement savings, these are pretty close to crabcakes. Really very delicious. Crisply browned on the outside in olive oil, tender within and greenly perfumed with basil. The garlic gives them a little attitude. If you don’t agree that they are wonderful after trying them, I’d love to know why.

Codcakes with Basil Aioli

This recipe can be doubled very easily. The five of us demolish a double recipe every time.

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Sea salt, pepper
  • 1 pound cod fillets, skin removed
  • 1 1/2 c. panko, divided in half
  • 1 egg
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

First make the sauce.

In a food processor or blender, process mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and basil until pale green and smooth.

Scrape the aioli into a small serving bowl and, without bothering to clean out the bowl of the food processor, pulse half the cod into a combination of finely minced and chunky pieces. Transfer fish to a large mixing bowl and process the remainder of the cod.

Using a large sturdy spatula, mix all the processed cod in the mixing bowl with 3 tbsp of aioli, 3/4 c. panko, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the egg and the scallions. It should look like this:

Form the mixture into patties – these could be quite small – 2″ is good for small children. 3″ would be fine for adults. Put the remaining panko on a plate or wide bowl, and press  all over the patties.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Don’t start cooking until the oil is shimmering. This is important and the difference between stodgy-greasy and golden-crisp. Sometimes I put the pan on the heat and walk away for a few minutes to chop a clove of garlic or change whatever music I happen to be listening to. Acquiring the patience for the pan to get hot enough took me a long time. Let the pan sit on the heat for at least 3 minutes.

Add the patties to the pan and cook about 4 minutes per side, until golden. Serve with aioli or if you have a child who is acting very silly (I did) with ketchup. The aioli also goes very well with steamed or roasted asparagus. You may want to add a little extra of everything to the sauce – you’ll want more.

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