Bajan salt cod fish cakes with chilli sauce

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Karen Burns-Booth shares her deliciously spicy Bajan salt cod fishcake recipe, inspired by her travels to the Caribbean.

First published in 2015

Some years ago, I went to Barbados for a romantic holiday. It was two weeks of sunshine, rum punch, dips in the sea and hotel pool, dancing, sightseeing and excellent food. Breakfasts were a leisurely affair, with a tropical buffet being laid out by the pool, which comprised of fresh fruit, assorted bread rolls, pancakes, boiled eggs, savoury and sweet tarts, breakfast cakes, banana bread and continental pastries.

After helping yourself the breakfast buffet, you could then order a main breakfast dish, of which locally caught flying fish was a speciality, as well as ‘bakes’ – a cross between a Scotch pancake and a doughnut that is made with cornmeal – fried plantain, assorted types of eggs and omelettes, pumpkin fritters, salt bread and fish cakes. The food was fresh and imaginative, and eating it poolside or by the ocean made it all the more enjoyable.

The breakfast fish cakes I was served are not the gentle ‘Country House’ style fish cakes of Great Britain, oh no, these fish cakes that I enjoyed as part of a ‘Full Bajan Breakfast’ were fiery little numbers and were served with Bajan pepper sauce and wedges of lime. Made with salt cod, fresh chillies, onions, a little mashed potato and Bajan seasoning, they were very spicy and yet totally addictive.

These may be too spicy for most people’s taste, for breakfast that is, so why not serve them with a glass of rum punch as part of pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, as I did! They are not the traditional fish cake shape that most of us all know – as they are dropped by spoon into hot fat to fry, they come out looking more like balls or nuggets.




Bajan fish cakes

  • 450g of salt cod fillet, soaked for 24 hours and with the water changed twice, cooked and flaked
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped and boiled with the potatoes
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 100ml of milk
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp of Bajan seasoning
  • vegetable oil, for frying

To serve


Mix all of the fish cake ingredients together until well-combined
Heat the vegetable oil on a heavy frying pan or skillet until a cube of bread fries golden brown, and then drop spoonfuls of the fish cake mixture into the hot fat; do not overcrowd the pan. Cook until dark golden brown
Drain the fish cakes as they cook on kitchen paper and continue to fry the fish cakes until the mixture is finished. Keep the cooked fish cakes warm in a hot oven as you fry the others
Serve the fish cakes hot with a fresh parsley garnish and with a bowl of extra chilli sauce, as well as toothpicks and wedges of lime when in season
These can be frozen once they are cooked, just defrost and reheat in a warm oven
First published in 2015

Karen Burns-Booth is a freelance food & travel writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a passion for local, seasonal ingredients.

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