Mega Omega-3s: Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes with Oatmeal Crust

herbs for smoked mackerel fish cakes

It’s only been in the past year that I’ve started to eat much fish. Before then, I rarely ate it except for the occasional can of tuna. However, when I became ill with CFS/ME, I started seeing a naturopath, and part of my treatment was a complete overhaul of my diet. Cutting gluten out was the biggest change I had to make, but having to eat fish a couple times a week was a pretty big step for me too. Luckily, Gary learned a lot about cooking fish while he worked at Fifteen, and he’s helping me learn to love fish. (I have since realized that part of the reason I never liked it was because I only ate canned tuna or fish & chips – hardly gourmet!)

Smoked Mackerel

At first, I started eating white fish, but finally have ventured into the world of oily fish and discovered that I love mackerel! Not only is it delicious and really cheap for a fish, but it’s also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are a type of good fat found in oily fish, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, and offer a whole spectrum of health benefits. Our bodies are unable to produce them, yet they are still vital for our health (hence the keyword “essential!”) Omega-3s are particularly good for people struggling with CFS because they can help relieve numerous symptoms, like improving memory and concentration, relieving muscle aches and helping to regulate hormones. (Flaxseeds are also a great vegetarian source of Omega 3 fatty acids; I’m taking flaxseed oil as a daily supplement.)

Fish Cakes before cooking

Recently, I only had £5 to spend at our local fishmongers, which wasn’t going to buy me enough fresh fish for two people – until I spotted the smoked mackerel. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it or what I could do with it, but I decided to give it a go. Turns out, smoked mackerel is absolutely delicious and I had to stop myself from eating all of it while I was making dinner!

This recipe for gluten free fish cakes is a tasty way to add some oily fish to your diet; even if you don’t typically like stronger tasting fish, I recommend you try this recipe – I think you’ll be surprised at how good fish smoked mackerel is! These fish cakes are cooked by shallow frying them in olive oil, but you could bake them in the oven if you have more time.

Cooking Gluten Free Fish Cakes

Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes with Oatmeal Crust (Gluten Free)

Gluten Free Fish Cakes

If you buy a whole smoked mackerel, you can get your fishmonger to remove the meat for you, or you can do it yourself at home – it’s really easy! Open up the fish along its belly, and scoop out the meat – just make sure to pick through it carefully and remove any bones.

Makes: 8-10 Fish Cakes (enough for 2-3 people)


  • 450g / 1 lb  potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 300g / 10.5 oz smoked mackerel fillets, broken into chunky flakes, and bones removed (yield from approximately one 400g / 14 oz whole smoked mackerel)
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, for frying

Oatmeal Crust:

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour,  seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2  eggs, beaten
  • 75g / ¾ cup  gluten free jumbo oats, whizzed in a food processor until coarsely crumbled (can be substituted with polenta)

Horseradish Crème Fraiche:

  • ¼ cup crème fraiche (can substitute with sour cream)
  • ½ tablespoon horseradish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot of water, boil potatoes until tender. Drain the water, and then mash the potatoes with a knob of butter, creating a fairly dry mash.

Add the flaked fish to the potatoes, along with the horseradish, spring onions, herbs and lemon juice and zest. Mix everything together, and season (remember the smoked fish is pretty salty, so you won’t need to add much salt). Taste the mixture and add more lemon, herbs or horseradish if necessary.

Shape the mixture into fish cakes, approximately 2.5 in/7cm across. Arrange cakes on a plate and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, prepare 3 small dishes with the crust ingredients: one dish with gluten free flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper, one with the eggs, and one with the oat crumbs. Once the fish cakes have chilled, it’s time to coat them in the crust: dip each cake in the flour, then the egg wash, and finally the oat crumbs.

Heat approximately ½ cm oil and in a large non-stick frying pan and shallow-fry the fish cakes for about 4 minutes on each side, until crisp, golden and heated through. Place the cooked fish cakes on a plate lined with paper towels, and let sit for a few minutes so excess oil is absorbed.  For the horseradish crème fraiche, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Serve the fish cakes with a wedge of lemon, some greens, and a dollop of horseradish crème fraiche.

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