Fish Cakes with friends Chia & Camelina Oil

IMG_1468 These fish cakes use chia instead of bread crumbs.  Chia is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fibre and antioxidants.  Because chia absorbs many times it's volume in liquid and creates a gel like texture when wet, it works exceptionally well as an alternative to bread crumbs.  Not to dis the bread crumb, but if you want to incorporate more whole foods in your diet, what a great way to take out the "filler", aka bread crumb.

Another star ingredient alternative is camelina oil.  Three Farmers camelina oil is grown and processed in Saskatchewan, contains twice as much  omega 3 fatty acid as omega 6 and is highly heat stable (due to lots of naturally occurring vitamin E) with a smoking point of 475 degrees.  The point?  You can use this oil at a higher temperature and it is a less processed option over canola oil (which, unless organic is almost always genetically modified).  It has a pleasant, almost grassy taste.

A sustainable basic white fish such as Alaskan or Pacific halibut, Alaskan or BC sablefish or Pacific cod is a great way to enjoy a protein alternative to the "go to" chicken, beef or pork.  This fish cake has a great texture where it is crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside.  Fish also cooks so quickly.  Bonus.

Saffron, like many spices and seasonings, has multiple effects on health, most noted, its effect on eyesight (especially related to cataract reduction).   Its deep red colouring contains substances correlated with its health effects and of course saffron imparts a special flavour not easily substituted.  If saffron cuts into the budget too much, you can use turmeric to add colour and therapeutic benefits (throw in some paprika too) but just don't expect it to be the same taste as saffron.


Mini Saffron Fish Cakes - makes about 12 small patties

1 tsp saffron threads, ground into a powder (use a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon and a plate), dissolved in a teaspoon of water

1lb flakey white fish, boned and prepared as below

1 onion finely chopped

1/4 of a red pepper finely chopped or for a kick, substitute a red chili or red "bomb" pepper

zest and juice from half of a lemon

about 3/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (or try basil and mint!)

2 large eggs, beaten

1/4 cup ground chia seeds (you can use whole chia seeds, but you will have to let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes longer before you can form them into patties)

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to your liking)

camelina oil for pan frying


Rinse fish, remove any bones, lightly salt,  and steam or poach in a bit of water for 5 minutes on medium.  Only cook until it just flakes with a fork. Remove from water, pat with a paper towel to remove excess water and separate into flakes.

Combine the flaked fish and saffron and mix well.  While the fish is absorbing the saffron, combine the chia, onion, red pepper, lemon rind and juice, cilantro, eggs and salt and pepper.  Add to the fish and mix well.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes for chia to absorb extra liquid (add about 15 mins of sitting time if you used whole chia).

Form the fish mixture into small patties (think crab cakes).

Heat your pan (preferably a well seasoned cast iron pan rather than a coated non stick - for your health!).  Add enough camelina oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan and distribute around.  You want your oil to be hot, but never smoke. Smoking oil is burning oil.  Burnt oil causes inflammation in the body and also leaves a rancid smell on the food and in your house.

Put your fish cakes in the pan with a couple inches between each so you have room to flip.  Let them brown without moving them (about 3 minutes).  Now you are going to turn them over, however, flip them into a spot on the pan that didn't have a fish cake directly on it.  This part of the pan will be hotter and give you a nice sear.  Brown this second side for another 3 minutes.  Take out of the pan onto a clean paper towel to absorb any extra oil.

These are delicious just on their own or could be served with a mint or mango chutney.  Brassica Mustard would also be delicious as a local favourite!  Serve with a variety of raw or steamed vegetables (steamed cauliflower would be nice), with a pureed soup or just on their own sweet own.


Remember, you can switch ingredients in and out to create a whole new flavour.  Think  dill, mint or tarragon instead of the saffron - cilantro combination.  What about different types of fish?  Shrimp during spot prawn season?  You could also crust them with a bit of organic polenta, cornmeal or ground nuts to add an extra crunch.  Endless.  Enjoy creating!

Posted by Amy Buckman at Amaranth