Tilapia Fish Cakes

This is one of my very favourite Everyday Food recipes. The recipe was originally published in 2006 and I have been making the fish cakes ever since. They are delicious and something we really look forward to. They are a bit of work, but if you take the time you can prepare a whole bunch and freeze them so they are pre-made and ready to just de-frost and fry. Now those days are really my favourite!

I have adapted the recipe very slightly, and have some extra tips to make them work out just right. This recipe made 21 fish cakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of Tilapia fillets* (approx 2.2 lbs) – *Note: Costco sells large packages of Tilapia of approx 1 kg – just pick a package closest to 1kg (the one I chose was 1.2kg)
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying the fishcakes (1 tbsp for every 2 cakes)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of light mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s half the fat)
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons of bottled white horseradish (I like a good Polish brand)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups of soda cracker crumbs – (approximately 48), I use unsalted tops, just our preference – grind the crackers in a food processor, or place in a ziploc and crush with a rolling pin. You will use 1/2 cup in the fish cakes, and 1 1/2 cups for the coating.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil (like alcan slide – love that stuff!)
  2. Place Tilapia fillets on the foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then rub or brush lightly over all fillets. Season the fish with some coarse salt (a light sprinkling) and freshly ground black pepper (just a few good grinds over the fish).
  3. Bake the fish for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  4. While the fish cools, in a medium sized bowl combine the eggs, mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish and parsley and set aside.
  5. Move the fillets into a large bowl, letting excess moisture drip away before you place them in the bowl.
  6. Break the fillets apart into flakes with two forks (not too small, not too big).
  7. Fold in the mayonnaise mixture and 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs until nicely incorporated.
  8. Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cracker crumbs on a plate which will coat the fish cakes and give them a crispy coating once fried (yum!).
  9. Using a 1/4 cup measure scoop fish onto the plate of cracker crumbs, coat the fish lightly with the crumbs and form into a cake. Place formed cakes onto a large plate ready for cooking, or onto an individual piece of plastic wrap to wrap and then freeze.
  10. For freezing – use a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer and place plastic wrapped fish cakes onto the sheet. Fill the baking sheet with your wrapped fish cakes and then place into the freezer for a few hours to freeze completely. Once frozen pop the individually wrapped fish cakes into a ziploc. To defrost, place in the fridge in the morning for eating that night, or like me if you never remember, just defrost gently in the microwave in short intervals to soften, they will warm through fully when you fry them.
  11. For Frying – Heat olive oil in a large frying pan (use 1 tbsp for every 2 fish cakes). Fry fishcakes until golden on each side – about 3-4 minutes each side. Be very gentle they are fragile. I always take a little peek under the fish cakes to see how it is doing before I flip it! Be careful!
  12. Serve your beautiful fish cakes topped with some tartar sauce (Martha’s recipe is perfect – for 6 fishcakes I use 1/4 of the recipe – see below) with a side of nice fresh greens dressed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and some salt and pepper, and a nice baguette.

Homemade Tartar Sauce (1/4 recipe – enough for 6 fishcakes)  . . . honestly I just wing this sometimes, give it a taste and go with it!

  • 1/4 cup of light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 dill pickle, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (a wee squeeze)
  • A bit of minced shallots if you have them, if not don’t worry I have skipped them before!
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
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