16 September, 2013

Light and Lemony Fish Cakes

It's official.  Crab cakes are my favorite food. 

Since moving to Denver, I forgot how much I love crab cakes. Back in PA, the Fiance used to make fun of me- if we ever went out to eat, and crab cakes were on the menu- well, everyone knows what I'm ordering! I can't help myself!  They're just so wonderful! Especially when in Maryland with the Fiance's family. 
This recipe may not be seasonally appropriate, but I found myself in a small crisis recently. My refrigerator is broken. Which means everything in the freezer is defrosting, including a bag of frozen tilapia. FISH CAKE TIME!
You can really taste the lemon in these cakes, it's light and refreshing.  I dusted the cakes with paprika, chili powder, and fresh pepper before pan-frying and it made for a nice crispy exterior, the cakes flaking apart easily with a fork. These fish cakes are chock full of fish, not a lot of filler here.  Just like a fish cake (and crab cake) should be.  

One of my favorite things about this recipe is it's perfect for make-ahead meals.  You can make these fish cakes, freeze them, and then just pop them out when needed for a quick, delicious, light meal. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce, or even better- homemade tartar sauce. 

Light and Lemony Fish Cakes

1 lb fresh or frozen tilapia fillets 
2 tbsp olive oil
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp dijon mustard
6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 shallots, minced (about 2 tsp)
3 dashes hot sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper 
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fish fillets in a baking dish and rub with a tsp of olive oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until fish is cooked through.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Pat excess moisture off with a paper towel when cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg whites, mayo, lemon juice, mustard, breadcrumbs, parsley, shallots, and hot sauce. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  When fish is cool, flake it with a fork into small chunks (being careful not to mash it!) and add it to the bowl. Mix well. Form into 6 equal size patties. Place on a clean baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking.  At this point, you can leave them in the freezer until frozen, remove them and double wrap in plastic wrap and store in ziploc freezer bags for one month if you are making ahead. Defrost before cooking.
  3. After patties have gotten a little stiff after being in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove them and heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, chili powder, and fresh pepper. Sprinkle this mixture over both sides of the patties. 
  4. Once oil is hot, place the patties in the pan and saute until a nice golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Adding the fish cakes before the oil is hot will make it soggy- the most important step here is waiting for the oil to be hot enough. 
  5. Serve immediately.