Fish Recipes from Nova Scotia and Beyond

From classic chowder and fish cakes to more adventurous fare, here are a few recipes to inspire you when you’re pondering what to cook with your local catch.

COD CHOWDER

1 1/2 lbs of cod fish
4 Tbsp or so of butter
2 onions chopped
2 cups potatoes, diced and peeled
1 cup carrots diced
1 cup celery diced
1 cup corn
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk (the creamier the better)
2 Tbsp parmesan
dried thyme, savoury, or substitute
salt and pepper to taste

Chop and dice your vegetables, adding first your onions, garlic and celery to pot with butter and salt. Allow them to cook until translucent, and then begin to add your more hearty vegetables; potatoes, carrots, etc.

As those vegetables simmer, dice cod into bite sized pieces, and add them to the chauderée. Slowly add portions of milk/cream and water to the mixture. Be careful not to drown the soup immediately. Allow it to cook in layers, adding more liquid as required.

At this point sprigs of thyme or savoury can be added to flavour the broth. I also added the first of many rounds of parmesan at this point. Some recipes suggest bacon..yum. Then simply cook the soup for 20-30 mins, allowing the flavours to intermingle. The soup is best if allowed to cool, and then reheated. However at this point it’s ready to serve if you or your shipmates are starving.

COD FISH CAKES

2 large potatoes peeled and diced
1 pound cod fillets, cubed
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp grated onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 egg
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
3 Tbsp oil for frying

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil. While waiting for water to boil, dice potatoes, and finely chop onions and parsley (or parsley substitute). Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and allow them to cook until they are almost tender. Add the fish to the pot and let the fish and potatoes cook until they are both soft. It seems strange, but it’s just a chance for the two to get to know each other. Adding the fish to the pot infuses the taters with their fishy goodness, creating a superior cake in the end. Drain the medley well and transfer the potatoes and fish to a large mixing bowl.

Add butter, onion, parsley, and egg and bread crumbs to the bowl. (At this point parmesan or asiago could be added, if so desired.) We used panko bread crumbs, a Japanese style bread crumb, but you can use pretty much any variety of bread crumb or make your own from dried breads you might have laying around at home. Gluten alternatives do exist – for our wheat-free friends.

Mash the mixture together, adding kosher salt, cracked pepper and lemon to taste. Form the mixture into small patties, roughly 3 1/2 inches across. Just as you would make a burger, ensure that the patty is well constituted and balanced. Form the edges to have flat side walls and make sure your patties aren’t falling apart before they’ve even hit the pan. If they are, you may need another egg.

Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Make sure to use a high smoke point oil such as canola or grapeseed oil. Fry the patties on both sides until golden brown. Resist over-flipping as it will cause breakage – 1 flip per side. Over-flipping is a classic rookie move, and something no true Nova Scotian would be caught dead doing. Once nice and golden brown, place on an oven pan, or on paper towels before serving.

Having prepared your fish cakes, you now have to whip up your horseradish mayo. Simply combine the ingredients and portion out into small containers to sit beside the fish cakes on the plate. If serving as an appetizer, simply add a wedge of lemon, and some greenery for garnish. If making a meal of it, pair the cakes with some steamed local green beans and beets, both with generous servings of butter, salt, cracked pepper, done on the barby.

FLAX-CRUSTED HADDOCK WITH SPRING VEGETABLES, QUINOA AND HONEY DIJON DRESSING
Serves 2

250 g haddock fillets
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
2 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp toasted almonds
1 small handful arugula, chopped
4-5 radishes
1/4 cup shelled peas
1 small carrot, make paper-thin slices using a vegetable peeler

Dressing
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp shallot, minced fine
1/4 cup apple cider
1 cup sunflower oil

To make the dressing simply combine all in a mason jar and shake. Use only what you want, the rest can be stored in the jar in the fridge.

Spread the flax seeds on a plate and lay out the haddock on one side, covering with flax seeds. Heat a frying pan with a little butter and add the fish, flax side down. When it starts to get golden in color, after 2-3 minutes, flip the fish and finish cooking for about 3 minutes.

Fill a small pot with water and add the radishes. Bring to a simmer until the radishes are almost cooked. Add the peas and carrot slices and cook for no more then a minute. Strain and mix with the quinoa, parsley, almonds and dressing.

FISH WITH PICKLED LEMONS
Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

4 Tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or substitute parsley)
1 large fish, approx 3 lbs (we used cod)
2 or 3 pickled lemons

Mix oil, water, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper and chopped cilantro/parsley. Marinate the fish in this for 1/2 hour.

Rinse pickled lemons, and cut into small pieces. Place the fish in a baking dish, with half of the lemons below and the over half on top. Pour the marinade over the fish. Bake uncovered at 425°F (220°C) for 20 minutes, or until fish is done.

GEFILTE FISH

1 1/2 kg whitefish meat
bones, head, skin and everything else (from the above)
5 onions, sliced
2L water
20ml salt
10ml freshly ground pepper
30ml sugar
3 eggs
175ml cold water
45ml matzah meal
3 carrots, sliced

Combine fish bones, head, skin with onions in a large pot. Add 2 litres water, 10 ml of the salt, 5 ml of the pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer while preparing the next steps. Place the fish meat in a food processor and lightly grind (you could grind by hand if you prefer). Move the fish to a bowl, add the sugar, eggs, cold water, matzah meal and all of the remaining salt and pepper. Wet your hands and shape into balls about 5-7 cm around.

Place the fish in the simmering liquid and add carrots. Be careful not to skewer the fish balls on the bones at the bottom of the pot. Lower the heat and cover loosely. Cook 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 1/2 an hour longer. Cool slightly and remove the fish balls to a bowl. Strain the stock remaining in the pot over the gefilte fish (leaving bones and skin behind). Reserve some carrots to garnish the fish when serving. Chill well (preferably overnight) and serve with beet (red) horseradish, and with the carrots on the side. The stock may have turned to jelly in the bowl as it cooled, and is delicious on toast.

Updated from posts originally published in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013

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