Codfish Cakes

James Beard

Author and Educator

This deliciously simple dish comes from Beard’s 1974 book, Beard on Food.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless salt cod
  • Cooked potatoes as needed
  • Butter as needed
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley as needed


Soak salt cod overnight in water. The next day, change the water, then place in a pan in fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until cod is just tender and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Drain well and shred with two forks.

Combine the flaked cod with an equal quantity of cooked potatoes, freshly mashed with plenty of butter so they have a rich texture, eggs, ginger, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well and form into cakes about 3 inches across and 1 inch thick—they are very delicate, so handle them carefully. Sauté the cakes in plenty of butter in a heavy skillet until crisply brown on both sides. Garnish with a little chopped parsley and serve with freshly made toast and, if you like, with strips of bacon or salt pork, for one of the best breakfasts you’ve ever eaten.


4 servings