I love making all things seafood into cakes. While it may take a little more time than just throwing some fish on the grill (a great meal in its own right), a cake is the perfect vehicle for creating the nice, crispy texture that is often lacking in more simple fish preparations. Peppered with bits of crunchy scallions, ginger, and bright cilantro, these cakes are pan-fried so as to become lightly crisped on the outside while remaining tender and moist inside.
These delicious and light halibut cakes are bound with a quick, homemade, coconut oil mayonnaise rather than a store-bought vegetable oil mayo high in Omega-6 fatty acids (should you be concerned about Omega-6s? Find out more here or here). I think these make a perfect meal served with baked sweet potatoes and a simple side of sauteed spinach or steamed broccoli.
For the Coconut-Lime Mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. lime zest (from about half a lime)
2 tsp. fresh lime juice (from about half a lime)
a scant 1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 C. coconut oil, melted
Whiz the egg yolks, lime zest and juice, and salt together in a food processor or blender for just a few seconds. With the machine running, slowly add in the coconut oil. Start by adding the oil at a level somewhere in between a drip and a very thin drizzle. Once about half of the oil has been incorporated, you can pour more quickly, in a constant, thin stream. This should take no more than 3 minutes total. Refrigerate the mayonnaise until ready to use, or for up to one week.
For the Halibut Cakes:
1.25 # halibut (black cod or salmon would be nice alternatives)
3 Tbsp. coconut oil mayonnaise (see above)
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. fresh lime juice (perhaps from the other half of the lime?)
1 – 2 tsp. grated ginger, according to your tastes
1/4 C. chopped scallions, green parts only
a handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. almond flour
coconut oil for frying cakes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the fish onto a foil-lined baking sheet skin-side down. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the fish is just barely cooked through (thinner, tail pieces will take less time, thicker pieces, longer). Allow the fish to cool slightly and then lift it away from the skin (which will stick to the foil) and place into a large bowl. Refrigerate until firm, for at least 2 hours. This step can be done up to one day in advance.
Once cold, gently break the fish into bite-sized chunks in the bowl, about 1/2” – 1” each, removing any bones you encounter. Add the mayonnaise, egg, lime juice, ginger, scallions, cilantro, salt, and pepper and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Lastly, sprinkle in the almond flour and just barely mix to distribute. Return the mixture to the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes or up to several hours. This is a great time to tidy up and get set up for pan-frying the cakes.
When you’re ready to finish the cakes, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat a wide saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Melt enough coconut oil in the pan to thoroughly coat.
Form the cakes with moist hands to prevent sticking. A medium handful (roughly 3 Tbsp.) of the fish mixture makes for a good-sized cake. Gently place the cakes into the hot oil at least 1” apart. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly golden brown, adjusting the burner’s temperature if necessary. Transfer the finished cakes to an oven-proof dish and into the oven to stay warm until all of the cakes are finished. This recipe should make between 8 and 12 cakes, depending on their size.
Serve with additional coconut-lime mayonnaise to compliment.