You can’t go wrong with a meal of easy homemade fish cakes! Everyone loves them, even the fussiest eater. And what’s not to love? Chunks of flaky fish mixed with creamy mashed potatoes, in a crispy crunchy coating. Serve with a salad for a light lunch or team with peas and chips for a more substantial supper. Either way, this is a winner!
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Easy homemade fish cakes
Fish cakes are said to have originated in the 19th century in England as a way of using up leftover fish and potatoes. However, a quick search on wikipedia shows that every country has its own version of fish cakes. In China, for example, fish cakes have been popular for over 4000 years.
This recipe for fish cakes was first published by Mrs. Beeton in her Book of Household Management in 1861.
INGREDIENTS.—The remains of any cold fish, 1 onion, 1 faggot of sweet herbs; salt and pepper to taste, 1 pint of water, equal quantities of bread crumbs and cold potatoes, 1/2 teaspoonful of parsley, 1 egg, bread crumbs.
MODE .— Pick the meat from the bones of the fish, which latter put, with the head and fins, into a stewpan with the water; add pepper and salt, the onion and herbs, and stew slowly for gravy about 2 hours; chop the fish fine, and mix it well with bread crumbs and cold potatoes, adding the parsley and seasoning; make the whole into a cake with the white of an egg, brush it over with egg, cover with bread crumbs, and fry of a light brown; strain the gravy, pour it over, and stew gently for 1/4 hour, stirring it carefully once or twice. Serve hot, and garnish with slices of lemon and parsley.Title: The Book of Household Management
Author: Mrs. Isabella Beeton
Luckily, times have changed since then, and I think you’ll find that my recipe for homemade fish cakes is a whole lot easier to make 🙂 .
A good fish cake has to contain large pieces of flaked fish. Minced fish just doesn’t taste the same. The big secret to the perfect fish cake is the crispy coating. You get this by using panko breadcrumbs, which for those of you who don’t know, are special dried Japanese breadcrumbs, which have a much crispier texture than normal breadcrumbs. If you can’t get hold of these through, you could just toast your own breadcrumbs lightly in the oven before using them.
So let’s get on to the real recipe!
- Prep time – 20 minutes
- Chilling time – 30 minutes
- Cooking time – 15 minutes
- Calories – 362 per fish cake
- Main equipment – large frying pan with lid. One thing I always insist on when buying cookware is that the handles are not made of metal. I have one similar to this one, and I also love the fact that it has two handles which makes it easy to move around when it’s full of food.
How to make crispy fish cakes
**For the complete list of ingredients and instructions for making these crispy fish cakes, see the printable recipe card at the end of this post.**
You will need some fillets of white fish which will be poached gently in milk until they just start to flake. Any firm white fish such as cod, haddock, pollock, or hake will be suitable. Don’t use an oily fish such as mackerel or sardines. For 6 large fish cakes, you will need about 225 grams (or 8 ounces) of fish.
If you have leftover mashed potatoes you can use these, otherwise, just boil up a couple of potatoes and mash them and allow them to cool before mixing with the fish. For 6 fish cakes, you will need about 1 cup of mashed potatoes.
For colour and extra flavour you will need some finely chopped spring onions and parsley, and a small amount of salt.
To bind the whole lot together you will need a beaten egg.
And finally, for the coating, you will need flour, a beaten egg, and your choice of breadcrumbs. I use panko breadcrumbs because I like the crunch they provide. If you prefer you can just grate a couple of slices of day-old bread. For extra crunch, you can spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and place them in a hot oven for a few minutes to allow them to dry out. Keep your eye on them though because they burn easily. Allow them to cool before using.
Prepare the fish
- If the fish is frozen, allow it to defrost first.
- Place the defrosted fish in a saucepan containing about 1/2″ of milk, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the fish starts to flake. Depending on the size of your fillets this could take between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Drain the cooked fish in a colander and then break it up with a fork into large flakes.
Form the fish cakes
- Place the mashed potato into a bowl, break in an egg, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and mix well.
- Finely chop the spring onion and parsley and mix into the egg and potato mixture.
- Add the fish and mix gently, taking care not to break up the flakes.
- Form the mixture into round cakes
Coat the fish cakes
- Prepare 3 dishes – one containing about 3 tablespoons of flour seasoned with salt; one containing a beaten egg, and the third containing the breadcrumbs.
- The amount you will need depends on the number of fish cakes you are making. You will need sufficient to coat each cake. 1 egg will coat about 6 fish cakes.
- Carefully dip each fish cake in flour and shake off the excess. Handle carefully – these fish cakes are quite fragile. You may need a flat knife or a spatula to help you move them from dish to dish.
- Now dip each flour-coated fish cake in the beaten egg.
- Finally cover with a layer of breadcrumbs, patting down firmly so that the breadcrumbs stick to the fish cake.
- Transfer to a plate and leave in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.
Fry the fish cakes
- Heat about half an inch of oil in a frying pan and fry the fish cakes on one side until brown.
- You may want to use a spatula to place the fish cakes in the oil.
- Once brown, turn the fish cakes over using a spatula and brown on the other side.
- You only need to fry these long enough for the breadcrumbs to brown and turn crispy, and it should take about 3 minutes per side. The fish and potato mixture has already been cooked, so just needs to be in the pan long enough for the fish to heat through and for the coating to become crispy.
- Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
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How do I serve these homemade fish cakes?
You can serve these easy fish cakes for lunch with a simple lettuce and tomato salad or serve them to your family as a quick supper with crispy fries or scalloped potatoes and peas.
If you make them a little smaller, they even make a great starter, with a bowl of tartar sauce for dipping.
I also like to serve them inside a hamburger bun with a slice of tomato, a little shredded lettuce, and a drizzle of mayonnaise or ranch dressing, and serve as a fish burger.
Can I freeze fish cakes?
You certainly can freeze these fish cakes. In fact, I normally double the recipe and freeze half for another meal. These little fish cakes are so handy to have on standby for when you want a quick and easy meal.
- Once you have coated and crumbed the fish cakes, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Place this in the freezer and leave until the fish cakes are frozen solid.
- Then transfer them to a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
To use, remove from the freezer and fry from frozen. Keep the heat quite low so that the inside has time to defrost and heat through completely before the outside browns.
You could also let them defrost in the fridge first, before frying.
Pin for later
Why not pin this recipe for crispy homemade fish cakes to one of your Pinterest boards so you can make it later. Just click the image below.
Other fish recipes
Perhaps you’d also like to try one of these recipes using fish:
- Mediterranean oven-baked cod with marinara sauce
- Cheesy fish pie with crispy topping
- Fish Milanese with a buttery garlic and parsley sauce
- Spicy fish and rice bake in tomato sauce
Recipe – Easy homemade fish cakes with a crispy coating
Easy homemade fish cakes
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- Flat dishes to hold coating
- 8 ounce / 225 grams white fish fillets (cod, haddock, pollock, hake)
- 1 cup leftover mashed potato
- 2 tablespoons spring onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk approximately
- salt to taste
- ¼ cup sunflower oil for frying the fish cakes
For the coating
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or grated bread,toasted)
- Place the milk in a frying pan and add the fish fillets1 cup milk, 8 ounce / 225 grams white fish fillets (cod, haddock, pollock, hake)
- Poach gently for between 5 and 10 minutes until the fish starts to flake and is cooked through
- Remove the fish from the pan and drain in a colander
- Place the mashed potato in a bowl, season with salt and break in 1 egg.1 cup leftover mashed potato, salt to taste, 1 large egg
- Mix thoroughly to combine
- Finely chop the spring onion and parsley and mix in to the potato.2 tablespoons spring onion, 2 tablespoons parsley
- Add the flake the fish with a fork and mix gently into the potato taking care not to break up the flakes.
- Using your hands, form the fish into 6 patties
- Place the ingredients for the coating into 3 separate bowls, mix a little salt into the flour and lightly beat the egg.3 tablespoons plain flour, 1 large egg, 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or grated bread,toasted)
- Dip the fishcakes into the flour, then into the egg, and finally press into the breadcrumbs.
- Place the fishcakes in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes to firm up.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan then, using a spatula, carefully lower the fish cakes into the hot oil.¼ cup sunflower oil
- Fry gently (don't allow the pan to become too hot) until the underside of each fish cake is brown and crispy, then carefully turn the fish cakes over and fry the other side.
- Remove from the pan and allow to drain on kitchen paper.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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I tried a variation on this, using canned chicken instead of fish, 2 tablespoons of cream of chicken soup mixed in with the potatoes, and mixed 3 parts breadcrumbs with one part ground pecans. I also use ghee for the frying, because it was what I had on hand.
It was FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!
That’s my new favorite food. I’m now thinking of ways to streamline the process so I can make mega-batches to keep in the freezer.
(If you fry them before freezing, just enough to “set” the breading, you can reheat them in an oven for an even crispier coating.)
Haha – you changed my fish cake recipe into chicken fritters. Sounds good. I think that’s what cooking is all about – getting inspiration from a recipe and changing it to suit yourself.
My 7 year old made these with me tonight, they were perfect.
Brilliant – nothing like teaching them young 🙂
I will definitely be using this recipe. I really like how you list the ingredients right with the instructions. Sure beats a lot of hopping back and forth. This is the first time I’ve come across this. Thanks.
I hope you enjoy them when you make them. It’s one of my most popular recipes.
Thanks for letting me know you like the way I’ve included the instructions. I’ve been doing it for a while, but I’ve still got a couple of hundred older posts to update. You’ve just given me the incentive to get stuck in and add the ingredients to all of them 🙂
I loved this! My family went deep sea fishing and brought home a ton of fish. We had so many leftovers and I didn’t know what to do with them all. This recipe was perfect to use up all the fish leftover from that trip. It completely renewed the fish and allowed the delicate flavors to come through SC shine once again. And it was super easy to make, too!
Thank you – I’m delighted you enjoyed it!!!!
I have been making and buying Fish Cakes for years, but these, Yes THESE are the finest I have ever eaten, thank you so much for this recipe.
I’m now going to try some of your other lunch and dinner meals x
Mary from Durham, England x
That’s great – I’m so pleased – thank you for letting me know. Hope you enjoy my other recipes too 🙂
Prep time suggested is very misleading and doesn’t account for prepared mashed potatoes or the 30 mins chill in the fridge. Hungry family had to have a completely different meal and wait to have these as leftovers the next day since they weren’t close to ready at suppertime.
Thank you for your comments Lisa. I’ve updated the recipe card to include the chilling time and also mentioned in the recipe notes that you will need extra time if you are making mashed potatoes from scratch. I do specify in the recipe that this is for leftover mashed potatoes.
The body of the post does mention the chilling time – I unfortunately forgot to add it into the prep time on the recipe card, and I’m grateful to you for pointing it out.