“Did I ever tell you I like fish,” Max would say whenever we passed the fish counter in the supermarket. His way of suggesting we buy fish. I like fish but cooking it can be pretty monotonous. I can bake it or fry it but feel like it’s a bit boring. I have developed some recipes for scallops but fish has been a challenge.

Laura, our daughter occasionally offered me fresh fish that she had gotten from “Kim the fishman”. He brought it to her house and put it in the refrigerator while she was away at work. I should get some I’d think but didn’t do anything about it. It wasn’t until Laura sent me his email address and a blog post about Kim that I contacted him. http://dianecarnevale.blogspot.com/2014/02/kims-fabled-fish-route.html. For the past month we’ve been enjoying the fish that Kim leaves in our fridge each Wednesday morning.

In my childhood fish was either fried fresh lake perch with a gazillion bones, small and sweet but hard to eat, or frozen fish, not the breaded fish sticks that one of my grandchildren considers “fish” but just frozen fillets that my mother cooked some forgettable way.

My sister remembers with some clarity my first attempt to cook fresh sole. She was ten and I was newly married. I dipped the fish in flour and fried it, and fried it and fried it. When I attempted to scrape it out of the pan, it was a crumbled mess. My husband looked at it and said, “I can’t eat that mess”. I left the table crying and my sister never forgot. It was some time before I attempted fish again and not until I’d turned to my cookbooks to discover that fish needs quick cooking and gentle treatment.

A few months ago I found a recipe for fish cakes with corn that I’ve adapted. It has become a favorite meal as well as being a recipe that can be frozen and pulled out when time is short.

Corn and Fish Cakes

1/2 pound fish fillet (I use haddock, salmon or cod, anything will work)
Salt and pepper
1 cup corn kernels
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (8- 10 ounces)
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 – 3 slices bacon, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1/4 – 1/2 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
Oil for pan frying the cakes

1. Cook the fish quickly. I lay it in a frying pan with a little water and simmer until just done,3-4 minutes.
2. Boil the potato is salted water until fork-tender. Mash the potato coarsely with the butter.
3. Cook the bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel and set aside. Sauté the bell pepper and onion in the fat for 5 to 8 minutes, until softened. If the corn is fresh and uncooked add it and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. (Not necessary if it is frozen or canned). Allow to cool.
4. Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the fish (coarsely flaked), potatoes, bacon, onion–corn–bell pepper mixture, bread crumbs, cheese, red pepper, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Use a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup to form the mixture into 1/2-inch-thick cakes. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to one day. (Freeze excess uncooked cakes for another day)
5. To cook the fish cakes, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Fry the cakes in batches, for about 3 minutes per side.
Makes 8-10 cakes