Acadian Cod Pancakes (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Fish Cakes with Applesauce
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most easterly province, and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland portion of Labrador. In 1583 Newfoundland became England’s first North American possession when it was claimed by Sir Humphrey Gilbert for Queen Elizabeth. While Labrador was part of the Portuguese Empire (going back as far as 1500). The French formed a colony in Newfoundland in 1655, and went to war in the 1690’s, destroying nearly every English settlement on the island. The French however ceded their claims to the British and to the French possessions in Acadia (hello Acadian connection!) in 1713. For the next 150 years or so, the land goes back and forth between the French, the Spanish and the English… To be honest, it is all very confusing!

In the end however they became a part of Canada, and we are happy to have them! With all that history and culture, you know the food is going to have its roots steeped in some pretty interesting traditions! One of the biggest yields from this area though is its fish, particularly cod. Traditionally what was not sold right away was salted and preserved. Today, salt cod is still a popular ethnic ingredient. For today’s recipe though, we’re going to use the unsalted version, either fresh or frozen, to make Acadian Cod Pancakes. If you want to be a real Newfie, make sure to eat them with apple sauce! This recipe will make enough cakes for 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or frozen cod fillets
6-8 potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
2 small onions, diced
¼ cup water
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of pepper
oil, for frying
apple sauce, for serving

Directions:

Peel and boil your potatoes, until cooked through, then drain and mash the potatoes, allowing them to cool enough to handle. Thaw your fish fillets if necessary, then break them apart and chop the fish very finely. In a small pan, cook the onions with the water, so that they become translucent, but do not brown. Once the onions have cooked through, set them aside and allow them to cool enough to be handled.

Beat the eggs so that they are well blended. In a large bowl mix together the fish, mashed potatoes, cooked onions, eggs, flour, parsley, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Make sure to combine the ingredients well. If you find the mixture is too loose, you can add a bit more flour. If you find the mixture to dry or not forming cakes well, you can add another egg.

Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick pan, until very hot but not smoking. Using a ⅓ cup as a measure, form small cakes or patties. Place the cakes onto the pan in the hot oil. Do not over crowd your pan, or you will find it difficult to flip them. Fry the cakes for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. If you find your cakes browning too quickly, lower the heat. Flip the cakes over with a spatula, and then fry for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the cakes to a piece of paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve the cakes hot with apple sauce for a true Newfie treat, or with cocktail or tartar sauce.

Chicken Nanban

Chicken NanbanOur next stop in our Around the World tour takes us to Yokohama, Japan. Now the Japanese obviously have Sushi, but I felt that was too much of a “gimme” for the blog, that, and you can find sushi at every corner store these days, so I wanted something different. The Japanese have a version of fried chicken though, that was similar enough to be comfortable to Westerners, but different enough to be exotic. Enter Chicken Nanban! Originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce. One bite and you’ll never think of fried chicken the same again!

Nanban means European countries in old Japanese, and as the name suggests, it was influenced by the European settlers that came in Japan. As such, it is a Yoshoku dish, combining Western ingredients with Japanese taste. A little sweet, and a little sour, the flavors blend beautifully in each crispy bite. You might notice this recipe is a little different in that we dredge the chicken in flour and then coat with egg. No, that’s no mistake, it’s truly how the dish is made. Coating the chicken in this way evokes a tempura like texture with a light and springy bite, creating a really unusual and memorable dish. Then we briefly dip it in Nanban sauce to let it soak up all the delicious flavor! While it may look like a lot of work, the dish comes together really easily, so it’s sure to be a hit for with fried chicken lovers! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

Tartar Sauce:
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (about ½ – ¾ of a stalk)
1 ½ scallions/green onions, minced*
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Nanban Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sake (can be substituted with sweet sherry)***
6 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons rice vinegar

Chicken:
3 pounds chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
3 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
flour – all-purpose for dusting
salt and pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.
*** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

To prepare the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, celery, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

To make the nanban sauce, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and then add the vinegar. When the sauce returns to a boil, turn off the heat.

Add 2-inches of oil to heavy bottomed pot and heat to 340 degrees F (test with a kitchen thermometer). Prepare a wire cooling rack positioned over a drip pan for once the chicken has fried.

Trim any excess fat off the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Dust the chicken with flour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until uniform and then dip the chicken in the eggs to thoroughly coat.

Gently lower the egg coated chicken skin-side down into the hot oil and then drizzle a little of the remaining egg onto the tops of each piece of chicken. The drizzled egg will quickly expand and spread out. Use tongs or chopsticks to fold the egg back over the chicken. You may need to fry the chicken in batches.

Fry the chicken until its golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). You may need to flip the chicken over once halfway through to evenly brown the top.

Transfer the fried chicken, fluffy side down to the wire rack and drizzle half the nanban sauce onto the smooth side. Flip the chicken over and then drizzle the remaining sauce onto the fluffy side. Slice and serve the chicken with the tartar sauce immediately.