Elizabeth Beard's Ginger Codcakes with Lime-Ginger Tartar Sauce

Lisa Schroeder

Mother’s Bistro & Bar - Portland, OR

When Lisa Schroeder of Mother’s Bistro & Bar cooked at the Beard House, she honored James Beard’s mother, Elizabeth, in the best way we know how: she used Mrs. Beard’s recipes. Schroeder adapted this codcake recipe from Beard's 1964 classic, Delights & Prejudices. James Beard described them as “light,” “buttery,” and “crisp”; he even titled the recipe “Mother’s Famous Codfish Cakes.” Deservedly so. They are excellent.


  • 1 1/4 pounds salt cod
  • 1 1/4 pounds mashed potatoes (see recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, for frying
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
Mashed Potatoes:
  • 1 1/4 pounds Idaho potatoes (about 2 large)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Tartar Sauce:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium dill pickle, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Soak the salt cod in fresh water overnight, changing the water at least once during soaking. Drain the fish, place it in a pot, and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the codfish is just tender, about 15 minutes. Strain the fish and let it cool.

To make the mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in lightly salted water, bring to a boil, and cook until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and put them through a food mill or potato ricer to purée. Add the butter and cream and mix until blended. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Flake the fish very fine. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fish, mashed potatoes, ginger, egg yolks, and cream. Blend using a wooden spoon. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning if necessary. Form into patties using an ice cream scoop. Dust each patty with flour on both sides.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Put one tablespoon each of butter and oil into the pan. Fry the cakes in batches in the butter and oil until browned and crisp on both sides. Continue frying until all of the cakes are browned, adding more butter and oil as needed. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a 200ºF oven.

To make the tartar sauce, place all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the codcakes.


8 servings as an appetizer