Codfish Balls

New Orleans Codfish Balls

Codfish Balls

So you’re probably looking at my picture wondering why the heck I calls these things Codfish Balls when they’re actually more like cakes or patties. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. All I know is my family and many other New Orleans families refer to them the same way. It is what it is, and I’m not about to shake up the family dynamic by changing the name to fit some textbook or cookbook definition.

Codfish Balls have always been my favorite Lenten meal. Unfortunately, many years ago the canned codfish people (Beaver and maybe Gorton) stopped making the codfish flakes my mom and grandmother used for this recipe and the dish all about disappeared from our family table. But last year, I was determined to share this special tradition with my own kids. So I dusted off the family recipe and revamped it using fresh and frozen cod fillets. Both worked well, they just require an extra step–cooking the fish–and a few more pennies since fresh and frozen fish is more expensive than its canned counterpart.

Now, my family of five likes to eat these babies right out of the frying pan with nothing more than a little ketchup or tartar sauce. And because they go so quickly, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even fuss with a side dish. But if you’re hankering for something more, potato salad, coleslaw or a light green salad would round out the meal rather nicely!

Codfish Balls Recipe

Print Recipe

Print Recipe

2 medium russet potatoes
1 pound boneless skinless cod fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil, for frying

Scrub potatoes under cold water to remove any dirt.  Place whole, unpeeled potatoes in a medium stock pot; cover with cold water.  Generously season with salt; add bay leaf.  Bring potatoes to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, until just fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Halfway through the cooking time, add cod and cook until flaky (potatoes and cod should be done at the same time); drain in a large colander.  Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins by gently rubbing them with your fingers; discard skins.  Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl, mash with a fork or potato masher and add onions, green onions, parsley, salt, peppers and egg; stir until thoroughly combined.  Fold in cod.  Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.  Divide cod mixture into 12 equal portions and roll into balls.  Flatten each ball into a 3 to 4-inch patty and dredge in flour; transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper (codfish balls can be covered and refrigerated until ready to fry).  When ready to fry, heat 1-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides.  Serves 4-6.


Category: Fish, Main Dishes, Seafood  Tags: ,
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27 Responses
  1. Terese says:

    My mom used to make these and we always had corn stew or maque choux (similar stuff) over rice as the side dish 🙂 yum

  2. Carol Vagias says:

    My mon use to make this dish with Beaver cod fish flakes in a can.. They were great . Cant find the cod fish flakes in a can any more. If any one knows where to get them let me know .. Thanks

    • Genet says:

      My mom and I have tried for years to track down those wonderful canned varieties we grew up on–no luck as of yet. Although the “fresh” cod takes a little more time to prepare, it works perfectly in bringing those wonderful flavors of my childhood full circle.

    • landa washington says:

      I wish i could find the cod fish in the can as well. I grew up in New Orleans and this was my favorit dish. If you find the can codfish let me know.

  3. David Favre says:

    My mother made these, they were delicious. We always ate fish on Fridays, we were Catholic and back then you never ate meat on Friday . She stopped making them also when she could no longer get the cod fish flakes. I think she either used Gortons or B&M cod fish flakes. Most people call them cod fish cakes, but we called them cod fish balls.

  4. Bruce & Shirley says:

    Back in the day, we would have them for lunch at school on Friday’s. Friday was meatless. Our children still ask about codfish balls. The children are 42 & 41 now. It’s been 10 years since we made them. Our daughter lives in New York City and is a caterer and she can’t find the fish flakes. We should start a petition to Gortons to bring the flakes back.

  5. Stephanie Windon says:

    Please email me if you locate the cod fish flakes. I have not eaten fish cakes in 30yrs. I remember my mom bought Gordon’s. Perhaps they will begin selling the flakes again.

    Fond regards,

    Stephanie Windon

  6. SandyT says:

    My family always used the Gorton’s codfish cakes, but they no longer make them. Today, I found some frozen cod fillets at Walmart and bought some. I’m going to give them a try. I sure hope they’re good, I’ve been missing codfish cakes. They were always “comfort food” for my family.

  7. Yes please let me know how they turn out. I am going to walmart to get the frozen cod fillet and try it. Wow I have to boil the first also, that’s a first.

  8. I sent a message to Gordons and ask about the codfish flakes in the can they used to sell. The reply i received was that they sold that part of the market to another company and they went out of business, the only suggestion they gave was the same as noteted in your recipe above. So I will make my codfish balls meal this week, either thur or friday. I will get back to you to let you know how it turned out. Let’s hope and pray it turns out ok!

    • Genet says:

      I like your tenacity Landa!! Too bad it didn’t lead us to the canned codfish. But I trust you’re gonna love and recognize that familiar Codfish Ball taste when you’re done with my recipe. Looking forward to hearing back!

  9. Well, I tried your recipe and it was great! Wow I could not believe how well it turned out. Just like home. I can not wait to share this with my family. Everybody will be excited. Thank you for sharing this receipe.

    Anyone know how to get hot sausage, I now live in Philadelphia and can not get it. Is there a company I can go on line and order it!

    • Genet says:

      Hey Landa! So happy to hear to enjoy the Codfish Balls. I’ll be making a bunch for my family in the coming months.

      On the hot sausage front, check out my list of online shopping resources under my “Makin’ Groceries” tab. I have
      several great options there including Vaucresson’s, Savoie’s and Cajun Grocer.

      Happy Holidays!

  10. I have another Question, does anyone know where to get pickle meat? My mother would boil peckle meat with potatoes. Boy that was good!

  11. Happy Holidays to you as well. You just don’s know just how much you have blessed me. i can not wait to send my family to your website. I hope you do not mind if I post your site on Face Book. Thanks again.

  12. Technically Proficient says:

    I am an 81 year old former New Orleanian living in Pensacola. My mom made codfish cakes during Lent. I cannot recall how she obtained the cod. In the back of my mind, there is salted Cod that may have been used. If so, it would have been soaked in milk for a couple of days. Darn! Wish I could recall where the cod came from. We have a large fish market in Pensacola that has the salt cod and I will start with that. I am salivating just thinking about those cod fish cakes! Thank you for the recipe; it is a simple one and I really appreciate it!

    • Genet says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. Please let me know how the salt cod works outs–and I greatly your reference to soaking the cod in milk. I was only familiar with the water-soak method, but it certainly makes better sense to use milk since it mellows out the fishy taste.

  13. dee says:

    I ha e used dried salt cod. Soak in warm water till desalted, change water. Soak in milk til tender enough to flake, then continue with recipe.

  14. bigE says:

    I went to Wal-Mart and bought some of those frozen cod fillets. I fixed those cod fish balls and I tell you they were delicious (not fishy smelling at all). Just like mama use to make..ummumm they sure were good.

  15. Barry Begault says:

    I’m gonna make some codfish balls next week. My mom made these all the time. We didn’t have it just during lent, but on Fridays when we couldn’t eat meat. I remember her receipt had Italian bread crumbs.

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