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Blue Catfish Cakes - From Chef Zack Trabbold

Recipe Overview

This is the recipe with which Chef Zack Trabbold won the Maryland stage in the 2021 World Food Championship -- advancing to the national finals representing his home state. He also included it in the menu he designed for us when he cooked a pasture-side dinner hosted by Near Country Provisions at Grand View Farm in Fall 2021.  

It's a brilliant recipe that not only produces mouth-watering fishcakes, but also takes a stand for our region's ecology. The Blue Catfish is invasive in the Chesapeake Bay, harming our region's legendary Blue Crab stocks. By using the invasive fish in lieu of making the more commonly produced and consumed Maryland Crabcake, Chef Zack is encouraging us to think about the fragile Chesapeake ecosystem, and for this meal, at least, make a choice to restore some balance to it.  

Blue Catfish Cakes

Making the Recipe

For a smaller batch, simply choose your Blue Catfish amount, and scale down all ingredients proportionately.  


  • 5 lb local blue catfish

  • 4 cup mayo

  • 2oz lemon juice

  • 2oz old bay

  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire

  • 4 cup ground brioche bread

  • 4oz minced fresh Italian parsley

  • Fresh bay leaf- 4 each

  • 2oz evoo

  • 4oz Sweet chili sauce

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions - In Chef Zack's Words

  1. In large stock pot start boiling 6-quart water, once boiling turn to a high simmer and add bay leaf and 1 lemon cut in half once removed zest and set aside. Then add fish and poach until fish is cooked through about 6 minutes. Once fish is cooked take out of pot using a hand strainer and place fish in a slotted pan to let excess water drain off and place in fridge to cool off.

  2. In large mixing bowl mix mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, Worcestershire, condensed milk, parsley, sweet chili sauce and old bay with a wire whisk. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning sometimes might need a touch more lemon juice or old bay, depending on taste buds.

  3. In a separate bowl pull cooled fish apart in to small chunks with hands. Once fish is pulled apart add your dressing and toss lightly until fish is incorporated together. Next add your ground bread and fold all ingredients together. After everything is together make sure consistency is correct, should be able to form in to 5oz cakes. Start to portion cakes until mix is all finished, and everything is portioned.

  4. In a large sauté pan add evoo and a tab of butter and bring to med high heat. Once pan is hot add cakes and sear for about 3 minutes each side until cakes become a beautiful golden brown. Served with your favorite dipping sauce. Any would work cocktail, tartar, lemon old bay aioli.


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