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Barbadian Fish Cakes

Salt cod cakes are a Barbadian specialty, and because of their popularity, if your cruise calls on that isle, you may get the chance to savor some just-made cakes at a local restaurant. With this recipe, you can bring the taste of Barbados home, along with these spicy island specialties of pickled okra and habañero mayo.

Barbadian Fish Cakes

Ingredients

Spicy Pickled Okra:

  • ⅓ C (100 ml) white vinegar
  • 1 tsp (6 g) coarse sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ habañero, cut in half; seeded
  • ½ tsp (2 g) mustard seed
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) fennel seed
  • 3 okra, rinsed and stems trimmed

Habañero Mayo:

  • 1 habañero
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil
  • 1⅓ C (300 g) mayonnaise
  • 1¼ T (18 ml) lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Fish Cakes:

  • 12 oz (340 g) dried, salted cod
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) fennel seed
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 yellow onion, cut in half
  • 1⅓ C (166 g) flour
  • 1¼ tsp (14 g) baking powder
  • 1 scallion, chopped fine
  • ¾ tsp (2 g) thyme leaves, chopped fine
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded; chopped fine
  • 1 med potato, peeled, cubed, cooked and mashed
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
  • 5 lg eggs
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Garnish:

  • Cilantro leaves
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced

Directions

Okra: Bring vinegar, salt, garlic, habañero, mustard and fennel seed to a boil over high; reduce; simmer 4 minutes. Pour over okra; cool to room temperature; cover; refrigerate 48 hours. Cut into thin slices before serving.

Mayo: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C); line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat habañero with oil; place on baking sheet; cover with foil; bake 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool; peel, seed. In a food processor, combine with mayonnaise and process until smooth; add lime juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use.

Fish: Cover fish with cold water and soak, refrigerated, about 48 hours, changing water every 6 to 8 hours. Drain; transfer fish to a large pot of cold water. Add thyme sprigs, bay, lemon, 2 garlic cloves, fennel seed, celery and onion. Bring to a simmer; cook 13 minutes; remove from heat. Remove fish from cooking liquid; pat dry and break into small pieces. Sift together flour and baking powder; in a large bowl combine scallions, thyme leaves, jalapeño and remaining garlic; add potato, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne; gently mix in fish until just blended. Beat eggs until fluffy, about 10 minutes; fold in flour mixture. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or a deep medium saucepan on medium high. Break up cod mixture into small pieces; fold into egg mixture. Drop batter by large spoonfuls into oil; do not overcrowd. Fry, turning to cook evenly, about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels; sprinkle with salt to taste.

Assembly: To plate, drizzle habañero mayo on plate; arrange fish cakes on top, dot with slices of pickled okra, and garnish with lime and cilantro.

  • Prep time: 35 minutes.
  • Soak/chill time: 48 hours.
  • Cook time: 46 minutes.
  • Makes 8 servings.