By Atle Larsen, Group Brand Manager, Hamilton Beach
For as long as I can remember, fish and seafood have been an important part of my diet. Growing up near the ocean in Norway, I have fond memories of going down to the harbor, pumping rainwater out of the boat, and setting out to sea with my grandfather Emil to either set or pull fishing nets.
Peering over the side of the boat while my grandfather pulled the nets, I would watch in anticipation of what we might catch. If I could see white (the belly of the fish), I knew we would go home with dinner. Back at my grandparents’ house, one of us would clean and prepare the fish for dinner and the freezer.
On occasion, we would bring back cod, which meant I could look forward to my then-favorite dinner: boiled cod with boiled potatoes and carrots along with melted butter and parsley. The more abundant pollock and haddock was either served pan fried or made into fiskekaker (fish cakes).
Fiskekaker presented a great opportunity to add some spices and flavors to the typically bland Norwegian diet. My grandmother would prepare fiskekaker just like the recipe described below. After browning, they were added to a saucepan full of brown sauce and were often served with boiled potatoes. Potatoes are a staple in my home region and were served every night in my home except when we had spaghetti bolognese. From the age of seven, it was my responsibility to peel the potatoes for dinner. I have always enjoyed the flavorful taste of fiskekaker and it brings back special memories of fishing as a child with my grandfather.
Fiskekaker med Brun Saus / Fish Cakes with Brown Gravy
3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced in quarters length-wise
6 large rainbow carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 lbs. boneless skinless white fish fillets (haddock, cod, etc.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. potato starch
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2/3 cup all purpose flour, divided
6 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cups beef stock, divided
2 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet (or substitute)
salt and pepper
Put the potatoes and carrots in a medium pot and cover with cold, salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Place large chunks of fish and salt in work bowl of food processor and, using S-blade, pulse until coarsely chopped. Add potato starch and nutmeg and pulse to combine. Slowly add the milk, pulsing just until combined, and then the chives. Form the fish cakes into 12 round patties. Put 1/3 cup flour on a plate and dip patties to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Cook onions in remaining oil while fish cakes are draining. When the onions are soft and translucent, remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add 1 cup stock and scrape the pan until all the browned bits have become loose. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes to allow stock to reduce.
Add remaining 1/3 cup flour and whisk to combine until there are no visible lumps. Cook another 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until the gravy thickens and becomes smooth. Gradually add the Kitchen Bouquet and the rest of the stock to the pan and whisk until smooth, cooking another 4-5 minutes, or until the gravy is slightly thicker but not quite at desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the onion, potatoes and carrots to the pan and stir into the gravy. Add the fish cakes to the pan and let simmer in brown gravy for 2-3 minutes, or until gravy has reached desired consistency. Serve fish cakes in the gravy with the vegetables.