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Smoked Cod Cakes with Napa Cabbage Slaw

I love fish cakes. There’s some casual thing about them, all getting sand in your shoes and an itchy¬†sunburn on your shoulders, needing Noxzema and iced tea. Their beachiness could be as literal as the fact that cod comes from the ocean (our local chilly brine, the Mighty Pacific), but I love being swept up in the meibutsu of it all, and the seasonality of it, too. Summer begs for straps and hats and big umbrellas, and for crispy-edged cod cakes with tangy-sweet slaw. This is living.

This is a few pounds of Pacific cod, kissed with smoke, heated until fork-flaky. This is handfuls of your garden’s tiny pearly potatoes, skin rubbed off between your gritty fingers and rinsed away in the garden hose, then boiled and smashed with the same fork. This is mineral parsley, sweet pickled onions, cracker crumbs and a warm egg, all married with yet the same fork. Salt and pepper, a blob of Dijon, and into small handfuls you pat-a-cake. Into a pan with a little bacon fat, this is a few aproned moments in front of the stove.

This is a head of Napa cabbage, rended to slivers with a hasty blade. This is a dressing of rice vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil and sugar; it is minced shallots, snipped chives and mint, pretty-please with cherry tomatoes on top.

This is dinner.