Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brazilian Fishcakes for #CookedinTranslation

If you have been following along for a while, you have heard me say at least once or twice how much I love the food bloggers I have gotten to know over the past year.  Not just discovering their wonderful food blogs but getting to know them personally, albeit from afar, through Facebook groups like Food Bloggers Netbook, The Cookbook Junkies and The Fun in Being a Foodie.   Through the Food Bloggers Network, I met Sofie Dittman, who writes The German Foodie.   Sofie has a sharp wit and will tell it like it is!  I admire that.  She also takes amazing photographs and is generous with her knowledge of photography and the program Lightbox.   Cooked in Translation is one of her inventions as well.  The concept is simple:  Once a month on the third Wednesday we interpret a classic international dish through the lens of our own or another culinary tradition.  Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what all of the other participants have done!

This is my first time to take part in Cooked in Translation and our host for this month is the lovely Soni Sinha (which means she gets to choose the international dish we will interpret) from Soni’s Food for Thought.  She has chosen fishcakes!  But you probably guessed that from my title.  My mind went immediately to the bolinhos de bacalau or cod balls  (Doesn’t it sound better in Portguese?  Most things do.) we loved when we lived in Brazil.  Salted cod is soaked until it is tender again, then flaked and mixed with mashed potatoes and seasonings.  Little balls of this mixture are deep-fried to a golden crust.  I am not a fan of deep-frying, at least at home, so I decided to make the mixture, form it into patties and pan-fry, adding the typical Brazilian molho or sauce to finish.  Fishcakes are a wonderful use of leftover fish so, instead of salted cod, I used grilled Grouper, but you could use any flakey fish.  Gotta say, these got good reviews at home and I would make this again! 

For the fishcakes:
About 2 cups or 225g cooked fish, deboned
7 oz or 200g potatoes
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 fresh chilies
Small bunch cilantro or coriander leaves
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 egg

For the molho:
1 medium tomato
1 small green bell pepper
1 small onion
1 medium lime (or two tablespoons juice)
1/8 – 1/4 cup or 30-60ml Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Using a couple of forks, pull your fish into small pieces.  This particular Grouper was a big guy and needed a knife to cut him up.  It was the weirdest thing because he was definitely not overcooked but even his skin was tough.  His flavor, though, was outstanding.

Peel and cube your potatoes and put them to boil in lightly salted water.

Finely minced your onions, fresh chilies and garlic cloves.

Rinse the cilantro and remove any thick and woody stems. Gather it up in a small ball.  Finely mince it as well, soft stems and all.

Meanwhile, your potatoes are probably cooked.  Make sure a fork goes into the cubes very easily.  Yes?  Okay, then drain out the water and mash the potatoes until very smooth.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.  I removed mine from the hot pot after mashing so that they would cool faster.

Mix together the fish and vegetables, including the cooled potatoes, and add a light sprinkle of salt and a couple of good grinds of black pepper.   Stir well.

Add in your one egg and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture evenly into four patties.

Dampen your hands and use them to form patties with the mixture.  Rest them on a plate covered with cling film.  The cling film helps them not stick to the plate and also gives you a way to get under them without mashing the beautiful patty when removing to fry.

Cover the patties with cling film and chill for 30 minutes (or until you are ready to eat.)

To make the molho, cut your tomato in half and remove the seeds.  Do the same with your bell pepper.  Cut them both into small pieces.

 Peel and dice the onion.

Mix all three together and add a good sprinkle of sea salt and a generous few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Squeeze your lime into the bowl – or if your lime has a lot of seeds, into another bowl so you can remove the seeds before adding.

Drizzle in olive oil and stir, tasting occasionally to see if more is needed.   Set aside.

When you are ready to eat, drizzle a little olive oil into a non-stick pan and gently place the fish cakes in the oil.  Cook over a medium heat and put on a lid so that the insides of the patties will warm as well.

Allow to brown on the first side before trying to turn them over.

Turn a couple of times until both sides are nicely browned and the patties are heated through.

Serve topped with a couple of spoonsful of the molho.

If you want to go completely Brazilian, the full meal could include black beans, rice and farofa, which is manioc flour, toasted with butter and seasoned with garlic.   It can sometimes be found online or in Latin American shops.  Or if you are in Cairo, in my freezer.


And to take the Cooked in Translation one step farther, the next day,  I made a sandwich, spreading homemade hummus and fresh habanero pepper sauce inside half of a pita bread and filling it with crumbled fishcake topped with molho, adding a little Middle Eastern flair to the spicy Brazilian fish.  Good food has no borders!  (And isn't that the point?)

If you would like to know more about Cooked in Translation, here are the rules.


  1. Love this recipe... Might it be because it is so close to the Italian version?

  2. Soni/Soni's Food for ThoughtAugust 15, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Oh our techniques are pretty similar except for some spices and the egg :) Love the moho ingredients as well.Sounds and looks delish!Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Yours is way more crispy! I love all things fried so that's why I try just to order them when we go out to eat. Special treat! Thanks for hosting this month's Cooked in Translation.

  4. Lovely tastes, lime and coriander, always a great combination! Your pics are fantastic!

  5. Thanks, Lin! They are too of my favorites as well. I think that's why the molho with lime works so well on these coriander-flavored fishcakes.

  6. Your Brazilian fish cakes look absolutely delish! I like the spice from the chiles too. I'm a big fan of spicy foods and seafood.

  7. Me too, Renee! I put pepper sauce on just about everything. And thank you!


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