The modest fish cake sandwich has never looked so all brand-new. In fact, today's version seems light years away from the cod cakes your Aunt Edna served on Friday nights. From sea to shining sea, the redesigned fish cake is heading upscale into trend-setting restaurants. Hot or cold, served on a lettuce bed or as a sandwich on crusty bread or soft bun, these creations, devised by Lynn Foster, an associate chef at the Tabard Inn, are a breeze to prepare. Just choose among ingredients from each of the categories below.

The best advice to keep in mind when making fish cakes for sandwiches is "anything goes." Feel free to experiment with fish and condiment combinations, aiming for maximum flavor without overwhelming the sweet taste of fresh fish. Using any leftover cooked fish is fine too.


1 pound halibut fillet (or any white fish fillet)

About 3 tablespoons corn oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound crab meat, picked over for shell

1/3 cup onions, diced

1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced

3 stalks celery, peeled and diced

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped

1/2 cup fresh fine bread crumbs, plus additional to bread the fish cakes

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch cayenne pepper, or splash of hot sauce

3/4 to 1 cup Mustard Mayonnaise (recipe below)

10 twist or sandwich rolls

10 tablespoons Relish Mayonnaise (recipe below)

Place halibut on a baking pan and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the fish for 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the fish is opaque throughout (it's also fine to use any leftover cooked fish without bones.) Let the halibut cool and flake it into a bowl. Add the crab meat.

In a saute' pan, heat 2 teaspoons corn oil and saute' onions, peppers and celery for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the chopped shrimp and cook for 1 more minute, leaving the shrimp slightly undercooked. Cool the mixture and add to the halibut and crab. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs, parsley, lemon juice, cayenne and salt to taste.

Bind the fish mixture with about 3/4 to 1 cup mustard mayonnaise, or until it holds together. Form the mixture into 10 cakes and roll in fresh bread crumbs. Lay the cakes on a plate and cover loosely with wax paper. Refrigerate at least two hours (overnight is even better).

When ready to serve, heat a saute' pan with the remaining oil and slowly brown the cakes on one side for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat. Finish cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side (if they brown too quickly and you are afraid of burning the outside, the cakes can also be finished in a 400-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes).

Slice 10 twist or sandwich rolls. Toast lightly and spread each with 1 tablespoon Relish Mayonnaise. Top with a fish cake and add lettuce or tomato, if desired.

Per serving (includes 1 tablespoon of Relish Mayonnaise per serving): 554 calories, 32 gm protein, 34 gm carbohydrates, 32 gm fat, 5 gm saturated fat, 128 mg cholesterol, 695 mg sodium.

MUSTARD MAYONNAISE (Makes 2 1/4 cups)

1 egg*

1 egg yolk*

2 tablespoons grainy or Dijon-style mustard

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 scallions, cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups olive oil

In a food processor or blender put the egg, egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, scallions, salt and pepper. Turn machine on and with machine running, pour in olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Use about 1 cup of the mayonnaise, or to taste, to bind the fish cakes and use the rest to make relish mayonnaise.

* Uncooked egg yolks may be contaminated with salmonella and should be avoided by young children, the elderly and anyone with immune system deficiencies.

Per tablespoon: 111 calories, .3 gm protein, .2 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 73 mg sodium.

RELISH MAYONNAISE (Makes about 1 3/4 cups)

2 tablespoons capers, minced

3 tablespoons cornichons, minced

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

1 1/4 cups Mustard Mayonnaise

Mix all these ingredients together. Unused portion may be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.

Per tablespoon: 84 calories, .3 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium.


4 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shell

1/4 pound che`vre cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 small flour tortillas


1 chili pepper, seeded

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 mango or papaya, peeled and pitted

Juice of 3 limes

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute' pan and cook the red onion until soft. Add garlic and cumin seed and cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in crab, che`vre, salt and pepper. Spread this mixture on top of 4 tortillas and cover each with the remaining tortillas.

Make the mango pure'e by pure'eing chili pepper, garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Add mangos and continue to pure'e, then add lime juice. Thin the mixture with water if it is too thick.

Just before serving, heat a skillet and brown quesadillas in remaining olive oil on both sides. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve warm with mango pure'e.

Per serving: 566 calories, 31 gm protein, 53 gm carbohydrates, 27 gm fat, 8 gm saturated fat, 113 mg cholesterol, 601 mg sodium.


1 1/2 pounds rockfish or red snapper or grouper fillet

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup cornmeal

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons corn oil or clarified butter

4 hard rolls

Mom's Ketchup (see recipe below)

Trim the rockfish and rinse. Divide the fish into 4 portions, each no more than 1/2-inch thick. Soak the fish in buttermilk for up to 2 hours.

Mix cornmeal, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, mustard and parsley. Dredge fish in the cornmeal mixture. Heat the corn oil or clarified butter in a skillet and brown the coated fish on both sides, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes.

Slice open the hard rolls and toast lightly in the oven. Place cooked fish in the rolls and top with ketchup. Serve with your favorite coleslaw on the side.

Per serving (includes 1 tablespoon Mom's Ketchup): 530 calories, 48 gm protein, 45 gm carbohydrates, 17 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 76 mg cholesterol, 642 mg sodium.

MOM'S KETCHUP (Makes 3 generous cups)

32 ounces canned tomatoes with their juice

1/2 cup onions, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 allspice berries

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 cinnamon stick

Put the tomatoes, onion and red pepper in a stainless steel or enameled sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes. Pure'e the tomato sauce in a food processor, strain, and then put the mixture back in the saucepan. Add the allspice berries, mustard seeds, celery seeds and cinnamon stick, and simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the allspice berries and cinnamon stick and refrigerate. The ketchup will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 9 calories, .2 gm protein, 2 gm carbohydrates, .1 gm fat, 0 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 124 mg sodium.


1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

12 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

1 jalapenåo pepper, seeded and minced

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red or sherry vinegar

10 Calamata or brine-cured black olives, pitted and sliced

4 3-ounce pieces grilled fresh tuna or 2 6 1/2-ounce cans water-packed tuna

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 loaf French bread or 4 French bread rolls

8 small romaine leaves

Roast the red pepper in a pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil under a broiler until the skin is charred, up to 20 minutes. Turn the pepper a few times so it chars evenly. Place in a paper bag and close to allow the pepper to steam, and when the pepper is cool, peel, discard seeds and dice.

In a bowl, combine the diced pepper with basil, jalapenåo, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, vinegars and olives. Toss to combine and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Drain the tuna and place in a bowl, and dress with salt, pepper, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Cut the French bread into four portions and slit lengthwise or split open the rolls. Place tuna on bread, and top with salsa and romaine leaves.

Per serving: 576 calories, 34 gm protein, 60 gm carbohydrates, 22 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 1242 mg sodium.


8 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

8 slices pumpernickel bread

8 slices smoked salmon

1/4 cup watercress leaves

Mix together the cream cheese and sour cream. Add in the shallot, mustard, dill, parsley, salt and pepper. When the mixture has softened, stir in the heavy cream. This can be done in a food processor, and will keep refrigerated for one week.

Toast the pumpernickel bread. Spread with the softened cheese mixture, put on a layer of smoked salmon, then watercress and top with a second piece of toast.

Per serving: 479 calories, 14 gm protein, 35 gm carbohydrates, 32 gm fat, 19 gm saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 1205 mg sodium.

Lynn Foster is an associate chef at the Tabard Inn restaurant and teaches a class on New American cooking at L'Academie de Cuisine.