Southwest White Fish Cakes

A tasty way to use leftover cooked fish that doesn’t taste like “leftovers!” These Southwest White Fish Cakes feature flaky white fish and mashed potatoes… the chipotle powder, fresh cilantro, and chives add a “kick” to the typical fish cake ingredients, while the cilantro avocado crema provides a creamy contrast in texture and flavor… Delicioso!

Southwest White Fish Cakes with a dollop of avocado crema on a bright ceramic plate with a beer.

I must remember…

Turkey on Thanksgiving,

Pudding on Christmas,

Eggs on Easter,

Chicken on Sunday,

Fish on Friday,

Leftovers, Monday.

But ah, me—I’m such a dunce.

I went and ate them all at once.

~~ Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

Haha! πŸ™‚ Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite authors of children’s literature, and this clever poem made me think of all the times I either didn’t use leftovers, or I served them with an apology. There is no need to apologize when you serve my southwest white fish cakes using last night’s leftover cooked fish!

I frequently cook dinner for my adult kids, and on a recent evening, I also entertained our close friends just staying the night in Las Cruces… 9 in all! We grilled fish for fish tacos, and as is so often the case, we made way too much fish!

We actually had over a pound of grilled cod that I really didn’t want to toss. One of my posts last summer was Green Chile Salmon Cakes With Black Bean and Corn Salad, and I borrowed from that recipe to create this one.

The salmon cakes use mashed sweet potatoes, but with the milder cod, I opted for yukon gold potatoes. These cod fish cakes have a bit of zip from chipotle powder, and lots of fresh herb flavor from the cilantro and chives. The cilantro avocado crema – also used on the salmon cakes – provides a nice textural and temperature contrast.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Fish Cakes

  • 2 medium potatoes (about a pound)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. cooked fish, flaked coarsely*
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. sea salt*
  • ground pepper
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • cooking spray

Cilantro Avocado Crema

  • 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 avocado skin and pit removed
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 lime juiced
  • Mash the potatoes – Put a pot of water on to boil for your potatoes. Scrub them, and cut them in chunks. There is no reason to peel the unless you are averse to potato peels. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt to the water along with the potatoes.
  • Make the cilantro avocado crema – Combine the crema ingredients in a food processor until smooth, and set aside.
  • Make the fish cakes – while potatoes finish cooking, chop the scallions, cilantro, and chives. Add them with the flaked fish, eggs, chipotle powder, garlic, salt, and pepper to a large prep bowl. When potatoes are tender, drain, and mash. Add to the fish mixture. Gently combine the fish cake mixture ingredients using your hands. Do NOT overmix.
  • Cook the fish cakes – Divide into 4 to 6 portions. Gently form into balls. Press the balls into a bowl with the cornmeal. Cook until golden brown on one side. Gently press with a spatula to slightly flatten them, then turn and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Finish the fish cakes – Serve the fish cake with a generous dollop of the cilantro avocado crema. 
2 balls of fish cake and potato mixture rolled in cornmeal in a pan with a bit of oil.
2 flattened southwest fish cakes turned and golden brown as they finish cooking.

💭 Tips

What kinds of fish can I use? The recipe specifies “cod,” but is not limited to cod! Any firm, flaky fish will work, including salmon. Tilapia, barramundi, sea bass, sheepshead, snapper are all good options.

I don’t have leftover fish. Can I still make fish cakes? Indeed. You will want to cook the fish first. While the potatoes boil, spray or lightly oil a skilled, then pan fry fish until opaque and cooked through.

Can I save leftover fish cakes? My preference is to cook just what I need for that meal. I’m usually cooking for 2, and this recipe makes 4-6, so if I make the full batch, I will store the remaining mixture in the refrigerator or freezer prior to cooking. Go ahead and make the patties, freeze flat, then add to a zip bag until ready to cook. They’re best freshly cooked, but if you need to reheat them, use the oven or gently on the stove. Microwaving them results in a soggy fish cake. 😢

What to Pair with Fish Cakes

I would suggest serving the Southwest Fish Cakes alongside grilled veggies or a garden salad with my homemade Cilantro-Jalapeño Ranch Dressing.

If you enjoy craft beers, this dish pairs well with a saison or a hefeweizen. A crisp, dry white wine such as a sauvignon blanc would be a nice option as well. The next time you have leftover cooked fish, give this one a try! 

Do you have any fabulous dishes that you prepare from leftovers? If so, I’d love to hear about them… πŸ™‚ Also, I have recently connected my blog to Yummly, and have added a “yum” button to my social sharing buttons at the bottom of the post! Yummly offers many convenient features including a personal recipe box. You can “yum” my post to add it to your recipe box. I hope you will take advantage of Yummly if you don’t already do so. πŸ™‚ If this recipe looks delicious, don’t forget to “yum” it… 

Movers come to pack us up Monday, and load us Tuesday. Life is getting crazy! I’m going to do my best to keep up with my blog until we get settled in late August. What’s a food blogging cook without her kitchen? Thanks in advance for your patience!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.
2 Southwest Fish Cakes topped with avocado crema with a pilsner glass of beer.
Yield: 4 servings

Southwest White Fish Cakes Recipe

Southwest White Fish Cakes Recipe

A tasty way to use leftover cooked fish that doesn't taste like "leftovers!" Chipotle powder, fresh cilantro, and chives add a "kick" to the typical fish cake ingredients, while the avocado crema provides a creamy contrast in texture and flavor...

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Fish Cakes

  • 2 medium potatoes (about a pound)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. cooked fish, flaked coarsely*
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. sea salt*
  • ground pepper
  • 1 cup cornmeal - in a prep bowl
  • cooking spray
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

Avocado Crema

  • 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 avocado skin and pit removed
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 lime juiced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste*

Instructions

  1. Scrub potatoes, cut in large chunks, and put on to boil. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Mash. Add to large prep bowl
  2. While potatoes cook, chop scallions, chives, and cilantro.
  3. Make the crema by adding crema ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse/process until smooth. You will still see flecks of cilantro, and that is fine. Set aside.
  4. To the large prep bowl with mashed potatoes, add the flaked fish, chopped scallions and herbs, eggs, chipotle powder, minced garlic, sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Gently combine. Hands work best. πŸ™‚ Divide mixture into 4 to 6 portions. Gently pat into balls.* Press the balls into a bowl with the cornmeal.
  6. Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add olive or canola oil. Swirl to coat. Add a bit more if necessary. Bring pan to medium-high heat.
  7. Place fish cake balls in pan, leaving plenty of space around them. Cook about 5 minutes, then gently press on top with a large, flat spatula. Check to see if the outside is golden brown, and if so, turn carefully. Continue cooking on the other side until golden brown. When cooked to golden brown on both sides, remove to a plate with paper towels to remove excess oil.

To Serve:

  1. Top each fish cake with a generous dollop of avocado crema. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and chives if desired.

Notes

Any firm, mild white fish will be fine. I've used cod, tilapia, flounder, etc. When I say "flaked," I mean very coarsely like chunk tuna.

Don't forget to season both the fish cakes and the avocado crema! After you process the crema, taste it, and adjust if necessary.

Nutrition macros include 1/8 of the crema and 1/4 of the fish cake recipe, and are approximate.

Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 8g

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25 Comments

  1. Wow! I love the combination of flavors in this dish, especially the avocado crema! I bet that would be great on fish tacos as well… actually, I bet it would be great on just about anything! πŸ™‚

      1. Hi Gerty! I’m sorry for the confusion. As many times as I proofread this older recipe, I missed it in the recipe card. It did make it into the body of the post. I have added it to step 5 in the recipe card. The cornmeal goes into a prep bowl. When the fish mixture is formed into a ball, the ball is pressed into the cornmeal before frying. I hope that helps!

  2. Who doesn’t love fish cakes? This recipe brings back so many memories. My mom used to make fish cakes when I was a kid. I can’t remember the last time I ate them!

  3. These looks amazing Tamara! I love fish cakes in general! There’s a Sri Lankan version that’s eaten as snacks called “cutlets” too! I love the flavors in this…
    You’re getting me all hungry for fish now πŸ™‚
    I really hope your move goes smoothly and you get your kitchen back soon! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Dini! I’m in Charlotte, NC. visiting our son, daughter-in-love, and grandson for a few days. We’re flying from here to McAllen, TX. to look for a house. Then I have to go back to NM to renovate our small rental house prior to putting it on the market (I’ll be staying with friends). The soonest I will have my own kitchen will be August 20, and I’m so hoping we find a house! I would love the Sri Lankan version. My husband (a professor) had a Sri Lankan student years ago…

  4. Ooh, I love fish cakes – and these look delicious! I like the look of your avocado crema as well – definitely going to try soon