Cooking with Beth Dooley: Smoked Whitefish Cakes Recipe

Beth Dooley's smoke whitefish cakes // Photo by Mette Nielsen

Beth Dooley’s smoke whitefish cakes // Photo by Mette Nielsen

Smoked fish cakes are a perfect marriage of convenience—yesterday’s leftover smoked fish from the holiday appetizer tray mixed with yesterday’s leftover baked or mashed potatoes. These cakes are far more than the sum of their parts. While many recipes call for eggs, cream, mayonnaise, flour, or breadcrumbs, I find that they’re heavy and dense. Keeping things simple by using three parts fish to one part potato, yields an easy, light fish cake. Following this ratio, you can use any smoked fish—salmon, whitefish, trout. Spice it up with a few tablespoons of capers, fresh dill, and lemon zest, and serve with horseradish spiked mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or ranch dressing.

Smoked Whitefish Cakes

Serves 4 (easily doubled)


2 russet or baking potatoes
¼ cup chopped green onions or chives
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream, if needed
½ pound skinless, boneless, flaked smoked fish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a few slits in the potatoes and bake until tender, about 35 minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle, peel and pass through a coarse sieve or ricer, or mash in a bowl. Work in the chopped onion, lemon zest, and just enough milk or cream to make a light mash. Fold in the smoked fish and season with the salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Turn the flour out into a shallow bowl. Shape the fish cakes into 4 or 8 patties, then lightly dredge in the flour and set aside on a separate plate or parchment paper.

Pour enough oil in a heavy skillet to thoroughly coat and set over medium-high heat. When the oil sputters slightly, fry the fish cakes in batches until browned and very crisp, about 3 minutes per side, adjusting the heat if they’re browning too fast. Hold the cooked fish cakes in a warm (250 degree) oven until ready to serve.

Find more recipes and articles from Beth Dooley here.