Trust me, after nearly three years of doing this, we know how to win your heart. Whether it’s pancakes, beer and beef, or lotus blondies, we’ve found a way to appeal to the people in our lives with the creations of our kitchens.
But if you want to win my heart, here is what you do: drive up to Ipswich, Mass, buy me the largest basket of fried clams they sell, and instantaneously transport them back to Brooklyn, where they’ll arrive briny and still crunchy and perfect. Fried seafood, in other words, is one of my head-over-heels food loves.
If you are slightly more practical, but you still want to worm your way into my affections via food, then the answer lies in seafood croquettes. Pan-fried rather than deep-fried, croquettes and cakes still combine that mild fishy sweetness and crisp crunchy exterior that I can not resist. I like crabcakes so much that going to steakhouses is sometimes an anxiety-producing experience: do I order the cakes? Or get a filet, as the menu intended me to?
When, after a recent trip to Fish Tales, my favorite Brooklyn fish market, I came home with a lovely filet of cod, I decided to make a perhaps unnecessary attempt to win my own affections and turned the filets into crab cake-like patties. Post-frying, I enjoyed every single bite, falling in love with the chef (that’d be me) more and more with each savory morsel. Fortunately, the cakes had a similar effect on Alex.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Old Bay Cod Cakes with Pickled Radishes
Makes 6 cakes; Serves 3 for dinner or 6 as appetizers
Serve these sweet and delicious little cakes alongside Warm Blue Potato & Green Onion Salad.
1/3 cup white wine
2 large sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 pound cod
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon old bay
1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup Spicy Quick-Pickled Radishes (recipe follows)
In the bottom of a pot with a steamer attachment (or just the bottom of a pot if you don’t have a steamer), combine 1 1/2 cups water, the wine, the sprigs of parsley, and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Sprinkle both sides of the cod with salt and pepper and rub them with olive oil. Place in the steamer basket and set it over the boiling water-wine mixture. Turn the heat down slightly, cover and poach for 8-12 minutes, until the cod flakes easily. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a little less water and simply set the cod right into the boiling water.)
Transfer the cod to a large mixing bowl and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic and half of the parsley, and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the Old Bay seasoning, and the smoked paprika. Cook another minute, then remove from the heat.
Shred the cod into small pieces and remove any bones. Add the onion mixture, the panko, the mayonaise, and the remaining chopped parsley. Stir to combine, then taste for salt, adding more as needed.
Form the mixture into 6 even patties. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8.
On a shallow plate, combine the flour with a good pinch of salt and a couple grinds of hot pepper.
Film a large frying pan with about 2 tablespoons of oil and place it over medium heat. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in; when it sizzles, you’re ready to go.
Gently place each cod cake in the flour, flipping to coat, then put it in the pan, taking care not to crowd. (if your pan is small, do two batches). Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then carefully flip each cake with a thin metal spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes until the second side is golden brown. Transfer to a plate and top with the pickled radishes and extra parsley. Serve immediately, topped with a forkful of pickled radishes.
Spicy, Quick-Pickled Radishes
adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup trimmed, thinly sliced radishes
1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 dried red chile pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot and heat to boiling. Stir so the sugar dissolves. Add the radishes, scallion, and garlic, and optional chile pepper, then remove from heat.
Pour into a glass bowl or jar, and let come to room temperature. Then, place in the refrigerator. These are delicious right away, but their flavor will develop over time. Eat within a week or two.