These fresh, flavorful citrus fish cakes are easy to make, yet elegant enough to serve for brunch. The bright salad makes it a meal!
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again): citrus fruits are the one thing that get me through winter every year. There’s no ice-cold day that peeling a clementine can’t brighten, no snowstorm that eating a slice of lemon meringue pie can’t make cozier.
When the first signs of spring start to show up in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, usually in early March, people start sharing appealing, super fresh spring dishes that feature freshly grown veggies such as asparagus and sweet peas. Alas, in early March, winter is still firmly entrenched in my hometown. We receive so much snow every year that it takes two full months from when temperatures start to climb for tree buds to swell and tulips come out of their winter sleep. This is the time of the year when I need citrus fruits the most to lift my mood and keep me patient as I wait for spring to finally arrive where I am, too.
While in frigid January I’ll gladly indulge in rich, bold desserts such as Lemon and Olive Oil Cake with Toasted Meringue—my favorite!—and Orange Chocolate Pots de Crème, when March rolls around, I like to move on to lighter, fresh sweet and savory citrus dishes. Around this time of year, I keep these aromatic Citrus Fish Cakes continuously stashed in the fridge and freezer: they’re so flavorful and nutritious, they make the brightest weekday lunch. They’re super quick and easy to make, too, so I usually double or even triple the batch, then bake and freeze them in airtight containers. All the citrus fish cakes need to be transformed into a scrumptious lunch is an overnight stay in the refrigerator, if you want to eat them cold, or a few minutes in a warm oven, to make them crunchy again.
The perfect side dish to turn these citrus fish cakes into a complete meal is a broiled fennel and orange salad. Roasting the fennel makes it sweeter and crisp-tender, in a delightful contrast to the juicy oranges and crunchy nuts. It’s a riot of a salad, one you’ll find yourself craving, with or without the accompanying citrus fish cakes.
Yes! You can cook the citrus fish cakes, let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
You can also meal prep these citrus fish cakes and the broiled fennel and orange salad, too. See my tips below to learn how to do it breezily.
Yes! Once the citrus fish cakes have cooled to room temperature, spread them over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until hard, then transfer the frozen citrus fish cakes to an airtight container: they’ll keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
The citrus fish cakes can be frozen (see tips above) and the broiled fennel and orange salad is sturdy, so you can meal prep it ahead of time. Here’s how to meal prep this recipe with ease:
Yes! You can substitute any type of flaky fish, such as cod, haddock, or pollock, or use a pink fish variety such as salmon or trout. Simply make sure to use an equivalent quantity (weight), cook it, then swap it into the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the fish fillets side by side on the baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake tilapia for 10 to 12 minutes, or until you can easily flake the fish with a fork. Let the fish fillets cool completely before crumbling them and using them to make the citrus fish cakes.
You can cook any other fish variety the same way; just make sure to adjust the baking time according to the size and thickness of the fillets.
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