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Potato fish cakes

First premise: Potato pancakes taste great.

Second premise: Fish cakes and crab cakes taste great.

Third premise: Fish and potatoes make a fine combo (think chowder, think fish'n'chips).

Synthesis: Merge fish cakes and potato cakes into potato fish cakes, and you might just be on to something memorable.

Faced with some leftover cooked halibut (yes, such a thing is possible, if you bought a lot) and a bag full of fine boiling potatoes, I fashioned a crispy set of German-style potato pancakes - plus fish - and found the result very pleasing indeed. I think you will, too. The textured presence of coarsely shredded potato and onion with the fish adds an extra dimension to the dish that I don't find in plain fish cakes. This one goes into the regular repertoire!

The procedure is reasonably easy and quick. It's based on the German-style potato pancakes featured in the Dec. 18, 2003 FoodLetter, with the ingredients tweaked a bit to accommodate the addition of flaked leftover white fish.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two as a main dish or four as an appetizer)

1/2 of a large onion
1 egg yolk
8 ounces (240g) leftover white fish, such as halibut or cod
2 medium potatoes, about 3/4 to 1 pound (roughly 1/3 to 1/2 kilo)
1 tablespoon (15g) flour
Black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Grate the onion, using the side of a box-type grater with the larger round holes. Separate the egg, discarding the white (or save it for another use if you're thrifty). Gently flake the fish. (I think mild white fish works best here, but you could probably use any kind of fish, or crab. Salmon might be interesting, resulting in something vaguely akin to your mother's salmon croquettes.)

2. Peel the potatoes and grate them into shreds, using the same grater holes. Wrap them in a large cloth napkin or dish towel and squeeze out and discard as much liquid as possible. Don't worry if some of the potato shreds turn reddish-brown from exposure to air. The pancakes will look fine. I prefer the texture of a waxy boiling potato in this dish, but a baking potato will work.

3. Stir together the potato shreds, the grated onion and the flour. Stir in the egg, add salt and pepper to taste, and gently mix in the flaked fish, stirring just enough to mix all the ingredients well.

4. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil and spread it around with a paper towel. You don't need any more than is necessary to grease the pan evenly.

5. When the oil is hot, drop in tablespoons of the potato-and-fish mix, flattening them into thin rounds with the back of the spoon. Cook until browned on one side, then flip carefully and cook on the other. It shouldn't take more than five minutes in all to cook them through. Put the first batch of fish cakes on a serving plate and keep them in a warm oven while you make the next batch - I made eight small cakes with this recipe, in two batches of four each.

WINE MATCH: This dish should go nicely with just about any dry or off-dry wine as long as it's white. I paired it with the good-value Domaine de Pouy 2004 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne featured in the June 2, 2004 30 Second Wine Advisor. A crisp, dry sparkling wine - a Prosecco, maybe - would also hit the spot.

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our online FoodLovers Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at

Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of this recipe, suitable for printing, online at

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Summer reading - Fire and Heat (June 1, 2006)

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Thursday, June 8, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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