One of the most interesting aspects of Newfoundland compared to the rest of Canada – with the exception of the Aboriginal peoples and, perhaps, Quebec – is the unique, time-honoured cuisine routed in the history and tradition of this Island. Clearly, many of the dishes date back to a time before shipping fresh fruit and vegetables from Florida, Mexico, and South America was a viable option, as the great majority of customary Newfoundland food consists of locally grown root vegetables, the various and abundant wild berries, salt-preserved beef or pork, and, of course, the mighty codfish.
The traditional cuisine of the Republic, as the patriotic residents refer to their beloved Rock, is the epitome of the ultra-trendy, (apparently) environmentally conscious “100-mile diet”, accomplished by a few simple, delicious recipes. Cod tongues are great. Fish and Brewis is fantastic, especially after a night out on the infamous George Street. And Jig’s Dinner rivals any Sunday Roast from across the pond (Great Britain, that is). But, my favorite, and one that I made myself before trying the local fare, funny as that may be, are Newfoundland Cod Cakes. These little devils are healthy, delicious, and can be made in large batches, frozen, and pulled out to accompany a salad for a quick meal, or served as an appetizer if you’re expecting company.
This is what they will look like when they are cooked and served with a simple greek salad.
I like to buy my cod at The Fish Depot. The owner of the little place sources fish directly from fisherman and claims he is the only vendor in town with access to such a variety of fresh seafood straight from the docks where he once moored his own skiff. If you are ever in St. John’s, make sure you stop by for some cod and follow this recipe. It’s the best!!
If you make extra cakes you can freeze them on a cookie sheet and later place them in a container for later use!
Newfoundland Cod Cakes
- 1 kg of fresh cod
- Start by boiling the potatoes until thoroughly cooked. In the mean time, poach the cod in a 1 cup of water. When the cod is nicely cooked, strain well until very dry and let cool. Do the same thing for the potatoes.
- Cook the finely minced, onions, celery and spinach in a table spoon of butter. Cook well and then cool.
- When cool combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with hands, crushing the potatoes but still leaving some chunks of fish and potato – you do not want a mush.
- Add 1 cup of bread crumbs and 1 egg. Mix thoroughly.
- Form into hockey puck sized cakes.
- At this time you can either freeze the cakes or cook them for immediate consumption. Freeze on baking sheet covered in wax paper and later transfer into storage container.
- Fry on medium heat in a little bit of olive oil until browned on the outside and hot throughout.
Yields: 12 – 15 cakes