Dairy-Free (Lactose) EasyPeasy Entertaining Entree Gluten Free Pescatarian

Cod Cakes w/ Cauliflower & Polenta

Cod Cakes w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Polenta

Cod is a staple, and cod cakes a favorite way to consume this light-tasting fish. When I came across a recipe by Jamie Oliver in Fine Cooking, that did not require breadcrumbs and egg to hold it together, it caught my attention. For those who are carb conscious, although the final dish of mine, was not, these cod cakes are made virtually carb free, very little fat and high protein. Fish such as cod, haddock, and salmon will work equally well in this recipe, as they stick together when cooked. Nothing worse than chunks of fish falling out of the bun, should you choose to use one.

For those of us who grew up on breaded, baked fish sticks, a fish cake can be either nostalgic or gross. It all depends upon which memories it invokes. I will go with nostalgic. Food is one of the few things that I find always induces pleasure on trips down memory lane. There is usually some emotional attachment and the memory of the food one to savor. Pun intended. This is a grownup version of the fish stick. As the texture of this recipe is one that is stiff enough to be molded, if you wanted to make little log shaped fish cakes/sticks and roll them in panko breadcrumbs, they would be reminiscent of the little fisherman in the yellow hat, braving the waves, to bring you your fish sticks. Depending on the seasoning, you could make a tartare sauce for the condiment. As we went with the ginger/cilantro/duck sauce seasoning, there was no tartare sauce.

In the original recipe, cilantro is used. One of my eaters is not fond of the taste, so we substituted parsley for a few of the cakes. Dried ginger and duck sauce were used. A couple of them had chili jam, but I found it overpowered the delicate flavor of the fish. Mind you, I do love a good fish curry, but with the ginger and duck sauce, I chose to have one without the chili jam. But I do love duck sauce. It is pretty easy to make, but I usually have a jar on hand.

Duck Sauce by Gish Jen from the NYT cooking.nytimes.com
Homemade Duck Sauce from Simple Seasonal

Roasted cauliflower as the topper and polenta as the base, created a one-plate supper (dinner is actually what Mainers call lunch!). The crisp, caramelized cauliflower gave some texture and natural sweetness to the dish, and the creamy polenta a nice grain base without adding competing flavors to the dish.

There is very little prep involved other than cleaning the food processor at the end (I used to put mine into the dishwasher, but after the plastic dried out, and a replacement bowl was as much as a new one, I now wash by hand.). Wash the cilantro or parsley, remove the leaves, and measure a few spoonfuls of ingredients, a few quick pulses to pull it all together, scoop, bake and serve.

The long and short of it is that you can make fish cakes very simply and flavor them however you please. This recipe will satisfy healthy, quick, and flexible all in one fell swoop.

Other fish cake recipes to try:

33 Fish Cake Recipes from BBC GoodFood
Fish Cakes from Delia Smith, deliaonline.com
Fish Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce from Aimee Tucker, Yankee Magazine


Cod Cakes w/ Cauliflower & Polenta

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 min Cooking Time: 20-40 min

Cod cakes hold together in this easy recipe. Be creative with seasonings and these cod cakes can be the base for a wide variety of dinners. Plus they stay together on a bun.


  • 16oz/450g cod, haddock, or salmon (fresh or frozen, defrosted)
  • 20 leaves parsley or cilantro, plus 20 or so for garnish
  • 4 TBSP duck sauce
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 TBSP chili jam (optional)
  • 1 small head cauliflower, florets cut from stem, and sliced
  • olive oil
  • 8oz/250g coarse cornmeal/polenta
  • 32floz/945ml water
  • 2oz/60g butter
  • salt and pepper





Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C:


Wash the cauliflower and remove the florets.


Slice and place in a large baking dish.


Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.


Roast for 40 minutes until the pieces start to caramelize.




Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C


Wash and remove leaves from parsley or cilantro


Place fish, duck sauce, parsley or cilantro, ginger and chili jam (optional) in a food processor and pulse until the fish breaks up and the ingredients are blended through.


Form cakes with a large scoop, place on a lined, oiled baking sheet and press down to flatten the cakes.


Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.




In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil.


Reduce heat and add polenta, and stir frequently.


Cook until the polenta softens and it is the consistency of oatmeal.


Turn off heat and add butter, salt and pepper (olive oil may be used instead of butter).


To serve, spoon some polenta onto the plate, place a fish cake on top of the polenta. Add some pieces of the cauliflower to the top.


Sprinkle with the reserved parsley or cilantro leaves.


Serve with extra duck sauce and/or chili jam if desired.


For a different flavoring idea, use basil leaves, dried oregano and tomato sauce in place of the similar ingredients. Grill the fish cakes on an oiled grill pan and serve on buns.

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