I am a dyed-in-the-wool fish lover, it’s true, but I have a fish recipe today that is as popular with non-fish eaters as it is with my fellow fish aficionados. Crispy Cod Burgers are perhaps a little outside the norm for a burger, but they are big on wow. A crisp exterior surrounds tender, flaky cod patties studded generously with minced chives and parsley and redolent of Old Bay Seasoning -that great old friend to all things seafood related- that are perched on lavishly buttered and toasted brioche buns and topped with cool, crunchy coleslaw just before serving. The hot buttery buns and crisp outside/tender inside cod patties, and cold coleslaw combine for the perfect interplay of temperature and texture.
Making fish burgers is quite a simple process. It consists of placing boneless, skinless filets of a good, firm fresh or thawed cod in a food processor and pureeing the fish with half of an onion. Right. I know, pureed fish and onion doesn’t sound super appealing, but what you do with that puree yields the perfect Crispy Cod Burger, so stick with me. We add fresh bread crumbs, large amounts of minced chives and parsley, a couple of eggs, and seafood’s best friend; Old Bay Seasoning. That’s all there really is to it, except for frying it in a cast-iron skillet or another heavy-bottomed frying pan until deep golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender and flavourful on the inside. Bonus points are given when the roll is slathered with butter and toasted on the pan, too. I crave these burgers all the time.
- I don’t know about you, but I want to wash as few dishes as possible when I’m cooking, so let me clue you in on the way to avoid washing your food processor between steps. Begin by processing the bread into fresh bread crumbs. Transfer the bread crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the onions to the food processor and process until finely minced. Add the fish pieces to the food processor process until the largest pieces in the workbowl are pea sized.
- Don’t be shy about processing the fish down to a puree. If you have good cod, it will look more shredded than anything else. You can get a good idea of the texture by looking at the fish in this photo.
- In the spirit of the traditional fish fry, I love to serve the Crispy Cod Burgers topped with a generous amount of cool, crunchy coleslaw. Whichever coleslaw you like best will do the job. I prefer this one or this one.
Crispy Cod Burgers
- 1/2 a cooking onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 pounds boneless skinless filets of cod
- 2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs or 6 slices of bread processed into crumbs
- 1/2 cup minced chives one full bundle
- 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 stick salted butter softened
- 8 brioche or kaiser sandwich rolls split
- sunflower or canola oil
- 2 cups of your favourite coleslaw
- Add the chopped onion to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the onion is pulverized and almost liquified. Add the cod to the food processor with the onion and pulse until the fish is broken down into a puree with some small pieces in it. No pieces should be larger than pea-sized. Scrape the contents into a mixing bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, chives, parsley, eggs, and Old Bay until it is evenly combined and homogenous.
- Place a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lavishly butter the cut sides of all of the sandwich rolls. Toast them, as many as you can comfortably fit in a pan, until deep golden brown. Transfer the rolls to a plate and repeat with the remaining roll halves.
- Add 1/8-inch of oil to the pan. Swirl the oil to coat the pan. Allow the oil to heat until it is shimmery and hot (this can be tested by dropping a small torn piece of bread into the oil. If the oil bubbles around the bread immediately, it is ready.)
- Don’t pre-form all your fish cakes, because the patties tend to fall apart if left to rest on a plate It’s best just to form right before adding them to the pan. To do this most easily, divide the fish mixture into 8 evenly sized amounts. Only form as many of those into patties as you can fit into the pan without crowding. Don’t squash them mercilessly! A light end texture relies on a gentle hand.
- Once your first batch of patties are in the pan, raise the heat to high and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bottoms are a deep brown. Slide a wide spatula under the fish burgers and lay an additional rubber spatula on top of the burgers. Use both spatulas to flip the patties one at a time. Take care to control how your flip them so you’re not splattered with any hot oil in the pan. Transfer that batch of burgers onto a plate, lightly tent with foil to retain heat, and repeat with the remaining fish burger mixture. Transfer each burger to a toasted bun. Top with coleslaw and serve immediately.