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Dried Cod Fishcakes (Galettes)

This recipe is made with salted and dried codfish. Many communities in Atlantic Canada have used variations of this recipe for centuries.

Dried Cod Fishcakes (Galettes)

Origin: Canso Islands National Historic Site
Region: Atlantic (Nova Scotia)
Period: Traditional
Course: Main Course

Fishermen, Canso Islands National Historic Site Drawing of cod fishermen
© Parks Canada

European fishermen and entrepreneurs arrived in the Canso Islands of Nova Scotia in the 1500s. They built temporary shelters, wharves and fish flakes, like the one shown above, along the shores to take advantage of the abundant stocks of codfish nearby. The dried and salted fish were shipped to markets in Europe, America and the Caribbean in exchange for a wide range of goods. At its peak, the Canso fishery pulled in more than five million fish in a single season, with shoreworkers, fishermen, soldiers and merchants living and working side by side. These fishcakes were most certainly a common meal in the homes of Canso at this time, fuelling the men for their days of hard work, and they remain a popular local dish.

Dried Cod Fishcakes (Galettes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp | 15-30 ml butter, lard or pork fat (can be rendered from bacon)*
  • 2 cups | 500 ml potatoes, cooked and mashed (we used Yukon gold)**
  • 1 cup | 250 ml, dried cod, cooked and broken into pieces (or frozen filets)***
  • ¾ tsp | 3.75 ml salt
  • ¾ tsp | 3.75 ml black ground pepper
  • ½ cup | 125 ml – flour for dusting

Directions:

  • Sauté the chopped onion in the butter/fat until golden brown.
  • Put the mashed potatoes in a large bowl; add the fish and the sautéed onions. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  • Roll the potato mixture into balls and flatten into flat fishcakes. Dredge the cakes with flour and fry on medium-high in butter until golden brown. Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
    • * Pork fat remaining from previous cooking usually produces the best results
    • **If mixture is too moist, add ½ cup (125 g) soft bread crumbs or extra (dry) mashed potatoes
    • ***Leftover fried/boiled fish can also be substituted for the dried fish

Credits:

Recipe tested by Chef Sean Edwards, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism