Just like my popular salmon burgers, these mackerel cakes make it easier to get kids to eat fish on a regular basis. Although I’m a definite advocate of serving plain ingredients to children as well, these kinds of healthy fish burgers add some welcome variety to the table. And for some kids, they will make the introduction to fish much easier.
Mackerel is a very healthy and safe seafood because it’s high in omega-3 and low in mercury. On top of that, it's a good source of vitamin D, and some B-vitamins, and it’s high in the heart-protective mineral selenium.
You can serve these healthy fish cakes with any vegetable you have in the fridge, but I find it pairs particularly well with sweet corn and a fresh cucumber-mint yogurt sauce.
How often should we eat fish?
My recommendation is to put fish on the menu at least twice a week.
Why? Fish, and especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids - like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies - offer unique health benefits. In fact, an analysis of more than 2000 scientific studies has shown that 60 different health conditions can be prevented or treated by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids(1). It’s especially protective against heart diseases, but can also lower the risk of many cancers including breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer.
Should I be worried about mercury in fish?
Some people are worried about eating fish due to the levels of mercury they may contain. However, the benefits of eating fish are far higher than the potential risks. In addition, selenium protects against mercury toxicity, and most fish we eat contain more selenium than mercury (1).
Still worried? Apply these guidelines:
- Don’t eat fish more than 6 times a week (this includes breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Eat fish with low mercury toxicity: salmon (usually non-detectable levels), cod, mackerel, cold-water tuna, sardines, herring, and anchovies
- Avoid eating large predatory fish such as swordfish, shark, or warm-water tuna
(1) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods (p. 527). New York: Atria Books.
- 260 g (9.2 oz.) smoked mackerel, canned or fresh (see note below)
- 400 g (14 oz.) potatoes
- 3-4 scallions or spring onions (or 1 small onion)
- 2 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 small egg
- Pepper and fine sea salt to taste
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil, ghee or butter
- Peel the potatoes if they’re thick-skinned. Otherwise leave the skin on (less work and more vitamins!). Slice and steam or cook in salted water (I always slice them to reduce steaming/cooking time). Once cooked through (drain the water and) set the potatoes aside
- If using canned mackerel, drain and if applicable, scrape off the skin with a knife or fork and remove bones
- Mash the potatoes, finely chop the onion, parsley, and mackerel, and mix everything in a bowl with the egg, lemon, salt and pepper, using a fork or your hands (you’ll have to get them dirty anyways)
- Form about 8 balls and flatten with your hand to obtain patties
- Heat the coconut oil, ghee or butter in a pan on high and brown the patties on both sides. Lower the heat and bake for another 2-4 minutes
- Smoked mackerel: I usually buy fresh smoked mackerel from the fish shop or supermarket (see picture), but I’ve also used canned mackerel in the past. If using canned fish, make sure to buy it on water instead of oil, and to drain the fish in a colander otherwise the fish cakes will be too wet. Some canned mackerel comes with skin and bones, in which case it’s important to remove them first. Be aware that canned mackerel is often more salty than fresh smoked mackerel, so keep that in mind when seasoning with salt.
- Too wet or too dry? Depending on which kind of smoked mackerel you’re using, the moistness of the mixture can vary. If it seems too wet and sticky, add a few teaspoons of oatmeal which will absorb excess water. Should the mixture seem too dry, you could add a small egg.
- Freeze: these mackerel cakes freeze very well, so I usually double the quantities and freeze 8 patties for busy nights.