Fish cakes with escovitch 

Fish cakes 

2 cups salt cod (approx. 1 medium sized fillet)
1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup water

6-8 white potatoes, peeled

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup flour


2 cups white vinegar

1 onion, julienne

2 carrots, julienne

2 habanero peppers or scotch bonnets, julienne

1 clove garlic, sliced

10 allspice/pimento berries

1 tbsp sugar

Salt cod fish cakes paired with a spicy Jamaican condiment make for a delicious blend of flavours. 

I love the taste of fish cakes, but I also love that they remind me of Newfoundland and family. I usually only enjoy them when I am in Newfoundland, and my mom makes them, but I knew that they would be the perfect dish to bring to the Food & Love potluck. While it is always risky to make a recipe for the first time at a potluck, these were tasty and turned out almost as well as my mom’s. Spicy food is not typical of Newfoundland cooking, but is something that I love. When travelling to Jamaica with Nathan a few years ago, I was introduced to escovitch which is a vinegar based condiment filled with soft slivers of carrot & onions, and a flavourful heat from scotch bonnets. It is often served over fried fish, so I thought it would work well over fish cakes. I was right, and will definitely pair these recipes in the future.

This recipe tastes best when made with salt cod, which I purchased from Maria’s Deli and European Imports in Victoria, BC.

— Chelsea 

Makes about 20 fish cakes

Directions for fish cakes  

First, the fish has to be desalinated. Cover the cod fillet with cold water, and let sit overnight.
  2. Add the potatoes to a pot of water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and strain the potatoes when they are easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Place the potatoes in a bowl, and mash, making sure that there is still some texture. Let cool completely.
  4. Once the potatoes are cool, strain the salt cod fillet, and place it in a pot with fresh water. Bring this to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Make sure to not allow the water to boil over.
  5. Drain the water, remove any bones, and flake the fish until small pieces achieved.
  6. Heat oil in a pan, and sauté onions and garlic until they become soft and start to caramelize. Set aside.
  7. Add the fish, sautéed onions, butter, and water to the mashed potatoes. Season with thyme and black pepper, and taste it to determine if salt is needed. Then, mix in the egg.
  8. Cover the bowl, and chill until firm and cool.
  9. Form into patties, lightly flour either side, and fry on medium/high heat in an oiled pan for about 5 minutes each side.   

Directions for escovitch  

Add the vinegar, onions, garlic, hot peppers, sugar, and allspice to a pot and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce to a simmer, and add carrots. Let simmer for about 2-4 minutes, and then remove from heat.
    3. Put a spoonful of escovitch on each fish cake, and enjoy.
    4. Place in a container and store in the fridge. 

    Further ideas and modifications


These are typically made with dried savory, and not thyme. So, if you are able to find savory, make sure to use it in this recipe.
    • I used gluten free flour before frying the fish cakes so that everyone at the potluck could enjoy them, but use whatever flour you prefer.

    1 Comment

    1. Denise Cole

      These look fabulous!


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