Karla’s Steelhead Fish Cakes with Pernod Fennel Sauce

This recipe is a tribute to my Newfoundland friends, Karl and Larry. In the Atlantic provinces mashed potatoes are commonly used to make fish cakes. Make sure that you don’t overmash the potatoes – they should be somewhat lumpy to give the cakes texture.

2 cups (500 mL) water

1 cup (250 mL) white wine

4 lemon slices

15 whole peppercorns

2 bays leaves

500 – 600 grams steelhead filets, skin on and cut into 2” (5 cm) wide fillets.

Bring the water, wine, lemon slices, peppercorns and bay leaves to a boil in a large skillet. Add the fish fillets, flesh side down and poach for about 10 minutes, turning the fillets over about half way through the poaching process. Remove the fish from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool. Reserve poaching liquid.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and cook:

1 red medium sized potatoes (about 275 g/9.5 oz)

1 parsley root, chopped, or 1 red potato

2/3 cup (160 mL) chopped fennel bulb


Drain and let cool slightly. Mash but leave a few lumps. Let cool to room temperature.

While fish and potato mixture are cooling, combine the following in a medium bowl:

3 sliced green onions

2 beaten eggs

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fennel fronds


Separate the fish from the skin and break it into small pieces. Add them to the bowl with the onions. Add the mashed potato mixture and mix well.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Place 1 cup (250 mL) of panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish.

Form the fish mixture into balls slightly larger than a golf ball. Flatten slightly and coat them with the panko breadcrumbs. Shallow fry until golden brown. Serve plain, with a tartare sauce or with a Pernod Fennel Sauce.

Pernod Fennel Sauce

Remove the bay leaves, peppercorns, and lemon slices from the poaching liquid. Bring to a simmer and reduce the poaching liquid to 3/4 cup (185 mL).

Add 1 cup (250 mL) 35% cream and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thick. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) Pernod and 1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fennel fronds. Season with salt to taste. Serve the sauce with the warm fish cakes.