Cod and Potato Cakes Provençal

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I love the delicate flavor of cod; because it’s a little plain, it marries well with strong flavors such as garlic, thyme, basil, and ratatouille. These old-fashioned savory cakes are chunky with potatoes and fish and juicy under a crisp golden crust. Once the potatoes have been cooked, it’s important to dry them out a little bit. Then mash with a fork until the big lumps are gone, leaving a coarse texture. Don’t use a ricer or electric mixer, because you want little chunks of potato and cod, not a puree. Mashing the potatoes, flaking the cod, and mixing them to just the right consistency is a great example of the tactile side of cooking.


Order of preparation:

• Prepare the Basil Oil.

• Prepare the Ratatouille.

• While it cooks, boil and dry the potatoes; simmer the codfish.

• Form the cakes and refrigerate.

• Pan-fry the cakes.

Make-ahead notes:

• The Basil Oil can be refrigerated up to 2 days.

• The Ratatouille can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Reheat in a 275°F. Oven or over low heat, or microwave.

• The panfried cod and potato cakes can be kept at room temperature to 1 hour. Reheat on a lightly oiled pan in a 375°F. oven.

Makes4 main-course or 8 appetizer servings

Cooking Methodpan-frying


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free

Mealbrunch, dinner


Taste and Texturecreamy, crisp, garlicky, herby, juicy, savory, winey


  • 3 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into about 8 chunks each
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves raw garlic
  • 2 pounds cod fillet
  • 4 cloves Oven-Roasted Garlic
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging (I prefer Wondra)
  • Vegetable oil to a depth of ¼ inch in the sauté pan
  • 2 2/3 cups Ratatouille
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons Basil Oil


  1. Place the diced potatoes in a saucepan of cold, salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drain the potatoes, spread them out in one layer on a baking sheet, and place in the oven until dry, 5 to 6 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, place the wine, water, thyme, and raw garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cod, and simmer until opaque, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the fish on a cloth towel and, using your fingers, flake it into a bowl.

  4. Mash the roasted garlic and combine with the olive oil and milk. In a mixing bowl, mash the dried potatoes with a fork, slowly adding the garlic mixture and mixing until it is incorporated. The potatoes should be slightly lumpy. Add the flaked cod and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 8 cakes, dredge in flour, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  5. When ready to serve, heat the oil until shimmering in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the cakes until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

  6. To serve:

  7. Divide the ratatouille among 4 (or 8) warm plates. Place 2 (or 1) cod and potato cakes on top and drizzle the basil oil around.

  8. Variations:

  9. For cod, substitute halibut, snapper, or bass.

  10. For Ratatouille, substitute Confit Bayaldi, Caponata, green and Yellow Squash Ribbons, or any green salad.

  11. For Basil Oil, substitute Chive Oil, Roasted Garlic-Black Olive.


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