I have had RockSalt’s fish cake sandwich more times than I can count. I think general manager Jessica Opperman has become so accustomed to seeing my face on her patio, she couldn’t say no when I asked her for the recipe.
Every time I order it, the sandwich is always delicious but rarely the same as the time before. Why? Because the menu is always changing. Executive chef John Critchley uses locally sourced ingredients from farms in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties and the freshest fish from fisherman Tim Griner of Charlotte Fish Company.
“RockSalt takes advantage of many different types of fish depending on what we catch,” Griner says. “They will incorporate even lesser known fish like white grunts, red porgy and almaco jacks. They are big believers in extremely fresh and locally harvested fish, regardless of how popular a particular species may be.”
Sous chef Ram Gibson said they generally use mild, white fillets (think black bass, flounder, blue fish or grouper) and sometimes they combine more than one type of fish to create the cakes. Experiment with your own variety of fish and see what mouthwatering variations you can come up with.
Gibson says to make sure your skillet is up to temperature and the oil is hot before adding the patties. This will give a you a crispy, golden-brown sear on the outside without absorbing too much oil. He is currently topping the cakes with celeriac slaw, but feel free to use your own favorite recipe. I added some thinly sliced apples into mine and it was fantastic with the fish. The cakes are also great served atop a bed of salad greens.
What’s your favorite dish from a Charlotte-area restaurant? Send your request to Jennifer Lover, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram (@jenniferlover). Please include your name, why you like the recipe, the area where you live and the restaurant’s location. Lover is a creative director, stylist and cook who lives in Charlotte.
512 Brandywine Road (in the back court of Park Road Shopping Center); 704-503-9945.
Charlotte Fish Co.: www.charlottefishco.com.
RockSalt Fish Cake Sandwich
From executive chef John Critchley, RockSalt.
1 cup mayonnaise (RockSalt uses Duke’s)
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 pounds poached fish (see recipe)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Combine mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, hot sauce and Old Bay in a small bowl and mix well.
Place the poached, flaked fish in a bowl. Stir in enough of the mayonnaise blend (start with 1/2 cup and add more as needed) so that the fish pieces start to hold together. Form into 6- to 8-ounce cakes. Refrigerate until firm.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in an oven-safe skillet. Sear fish cakes on both sides until deep golden brown.
Place the pan pan into the oven for 8 minutes until the cakes are warmed through.
Serve on a brioche roll topped with your favorite slaw.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
RockSalt Poached Fish
3 quarts water
1 (750ml) bottle white wine
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 lime, halved
A few fresh thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds fish (use scraps or cut into pieces)
In a large stock pot, bring the water, wine, fruit, onion, thyme and bay leaves to a boil.
Add fish and simmer, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes, until fish is opaque and cooked through. Time will vary depending on the variety of fish.
Strain liquid from fish and discard. Place fish onto a sheet tray or platter and refrigerate until cool, then lightly flake fish pieces.