Homemade “fiskekaker” – our Monday dinner suggestion

Fiskekaker

Fiskekaker... now we are really talking about true Norwegian food! Every person in the country has some story about this dish, whether they love them or hate them (most fall in the first category).  These “fish cakes” or fish patties as I will call them here, are incredibly satisfying and so delicious, I like to call them “fish sticks for adults”. They are a way for even the pickiest eater to actually LOVE fish, and provides a multitude of ways people can enjoy them. Have them with a poached egg for breakfast on an open faced sandwich,  have one as a snack in the afternoon stuffed in a pita with some tzatziki (Greek yogurt cucumber dip), have them for dinner, either with a shredded carrot salad and boiled potatoes (recipe to follow), or even with gravy and mashed potatoes, or as a late night snack in a burger bun with caramelized onions, bacon and tomatoes. Mmmmm….

Fiskekaker

There are many Norwegians who also disagree with me – they have issues with the texture and the taste of fiskekaker, but in my opinion they just haven’t had the PERFECT fiskekake.  I also find that most people who criticize this wonderful dish have only tried the store bought version. Don’t get me started! Store bought means bland, mealy, mass produced without love, and awful.  Home made is always the way to go !  You will see below how easy these are to make, no excuse to opt for a processed, manufactured option.  A balance of spices, fish to milk ratio and proper ingredient combination, are all parts of a successful recipe.

Growing up in Norway, fiskekaker was something that signified “every day life” in my family.  My mom would typically make these sometime during the mid- week, either if she had leftover fish from another meal, or she had visited the fishmonger in Ålesund (the closest city to our hometown).   She would make a huge batch and freeze some for a future dinner, and as far as I can remember, they tasted just as good then.  My dad would often request “fiskekaker” – a true, Norwegian meal, in his opinion.  Being a very old school, traditional man, he would often sneer when my mom would dare make spaghetti or even pancakes for us for dinner. That modern ‘fluff’ was not proper food for real men. Hence, fish cakes held up the standard in the Hjorthol household!

Fiskekaker is also a great way to make your kids eat fish, if they otherwise don’t or won’t.  Add some chopped onions, garlic and additional spice  to make this into fun hamburger patties, place in a bun and serve with a salad or coleslaw.

fiskekakeburgerImage : http://www.aperitif.no

I also like to add the fish cakes in a sandwich, with lettuce and tomato and perhaps a remoulade dressing. Delicious!

FiskekakesandwichImage: http://www.godfisk.no

Below is a recipe for the traditional fiskekaker my mom got from her mom, and I’m sure her mom got it from her mom..  Food and recipes stay for generations and Norway is no exception.   I’ve spoken with many food lovers in Norway with the same exact story – remembering with fondness their grandmother’s beloved fish cakes. Here I want to keep tradition going, giving you the standard way we enjoyed them (approved by my dad) – accompanied with the standard shredded carrot salad boiled potatoes. Healthy and flavorful, just the way my mom made them!

BESTEMORS FISKEKAKER  (Grandma’s Fish Cakes)

1 lb cleaned fish (haddock, cod, pollock, or coalfish)

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs cornstarch

2 cups milk

2 tbsp melted butter

1 egg

3 tbsp minced chives (optional)

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Place the fish in food processor with salt  and pulse until you have a rough paste.  Add in the other ingredients by hand and knead until everything is well combined. Using a spoon, shape into patties and saute them in saute pan on medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.   Serve with my mom’s special carrot salad (see below for recipe) and boiled potatoes for a traditional fiskekake dinner!

note: Some people like to add mackerel into fiskekaker, along with a white fish. The fatty mackerel adds a desired unique flavor, richness, and depth to the patties making them even more delectable.   Professional chefs may add some crab meat into the fiskekaker, as well as other exotic ingredients such as lime juice, curry paste, ginger, etc. making them more Thai inspired. The options are endless!

fiskekaker

GULROTSALAT  (Carrot Salad)

4 large carrots

1 cup sour cream

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp white vinegar

salt, pepper

Shred the carrots using either a box grater (largest setting) or food processor.  In a big bowl, add the sour cream, sugar, vinegar and combine. Add the grated carrots, season with salt and pepper to taste.  You can also omit the sour cream for a lighter version. Adding in some shredded turnips or pickled cucumbers is also a nice touch.

gulrotrevet

Image : Freshcut.no

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About Sunny Gandara

Scandinavian in NY writing about food and wine and spirits... tasting, eating, researching and experiencing!

6 responses to “Homemade “fiskekaker” – our Monday dinner suggestion”

  1. Dina says :

    Jeg eeeeeelsker ♥ ♥ ♥ fiskekaker! Thanks for a ♥♥♥ post!

  2. Kirsten says :

    I was excited to make these, but I think the measurements must be off. Adding 2 cups of milk gave me a bowl of fish soup. I thought that sounded like a lot of milk, and I guess I should have trusted my gut. I couldn’t “knead” it together, much less form it into patties. It was like runny, fishy pancake batter. Is the recipe meant to call for 2 tablespoons of milk, perhaps? I’m afraid I ruined all my fish, and I’m left with nothing but potatoes for dinner.

    • Sunny says :

      Hi Kirsten – sorry to hear you had a bad experience, the measurements are not off – you will add the milk as you go, so of course if you see it being too runny it is not necessary to add the entire 2 cups but typically I do. Did you add the cornstarch as well? That should help firm up the dough – you can also add some flour to soak up some of the liquid. Hope you can save the fish!!

      • Kirsten says :

        Thanks, Sunny. I did follow the recipe exactly, but I dumped the milk in all at once. Not the brightest move on my part. My husband ended up making something like “fish pancakes,” and the flavor was really good, so we’ll definitely try the recipe again. I’ll just add the milk gradually next time.

      • Sunny says :

        Hi Kirsten – thanks for the update! I’m glad you managed to get creative with the outcome but feel bad it didn’t turn out the way you initially planned. Next time, make sure you don’t puree the fish too much also, and like I mentioned, gradually add in the liquid. Sometimes, humidity plays its part in cooking and baking too and less liquid might be needed. Thanks again for stopping by my blog and hope you will continue to follow! :)

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