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Smoked Fish Johnnycake Stacks

With Natasha MacAller  


Smoked Fish Johnnycake stacks with vanilla citrus sauce

Johnnycake photograph taken by Manja Wachsmuth


Johnnycakes, originally known as journeycakes, are a cornmeal flatbread credited to the American tribes of 1800s New England. Additional native ingredients—black beans and wild rice—layered with plentiful trout transform these crusty-outside, moist-inside cakes into a substantial course. If trout is unavailable, use another delicate smoked fish, such as gurnard or tarakihi. By substituting oil and water for the butter and milk, these Johnnycakes taste just as delicious and are gluten- and dairy-free.


Serves 4


Vanilla citrus sauce

egg yolk, large                                                                   1                                      30 ml

garlic clove, minced                                                            1

lime juice                                                                           1 Tbsp                               15 ml

lime zest                                                                            ½ tsp

orange zest                                                                        1 tsp

vanilla paste                                                                       ½ tsp

agave syrup or honey                                                          2 tsp                                  10 ml

grapeseed oil                                                                      ½ fl cup                              120 ml


Johnnycake batter

fine cornmeal or masa harina                                             ¾ cup                                   115 g

fine sea salt                                                                      ½ tsp

brown sugar                                                                      1 Tbsp                                  15 g

milk or water                                                                     1¼ fl cups                            300 ml

butter or vegetable oil                                                        2 Tbsp                                  30 g

black beans, cooked, drained                                              ¾ cup                                   100 g

wild rice, cooked, drained ¾ cup                                         90 g

red onion, minced

(reserve a sprinkling for the garnish)                                    ½                                        90 g

hot sauce                                                                           1 tsp

lime zest                                                                            1 tsp

butter or vegetable oil, melted (for skillet)                             ¼ fl cup                               60 ml


to serve

smoked fish, such as terakihi, in pieces                                  200 g

microgreens such as

micro coriander/cilantro or watercress                                   small handful

red onion, diced                                                                   garnish



Vanilla citrus sauce

In a small bowl, whisk yolk with a pinch of sea salt, garlic, lime juice, citrus zests, vanilla paste and agave until well blended.

Using a whisk or stick-blender, whisk egg mixture continuously, then drizzle oil in a slow, steady stream until sauce begins to come together and thicken. If too thick, whisk in an additional teaspoon of water until well combined. Cover and chill until ready to use.


Johnnycake batter

In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal, salt and sugar.

In a small pot, heat milk and butter (or water and vegetable oil) to a simmer. Slowly pour milk mixture into the cornmeal, whisking to prevent lumps.

Combine beans, wild rice, onion, hot sauce and zest and gently fold into the batter. Cover and chill the batter for at least 1 hour (or up to a day), until just before serving.

Heat a heavy or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and wait for the sizzle.

Using a tablespoon, spoon batter into the sizzling butter and cook until crisp and golden brown on one side. Gently turn over and repeat. Place Johnnycakes on baking tray in oven to keep warm while cooking the rest. Add additional butter or oil to pan as needed, making sure the pan doesn’t get too hot or the fat will burn.


To serve

Place a Johnnycake on the plate, top with sauce then smoked fish and a sprinkling of microgreens. Stack layers 1 or 2 more times. Top the stack with more sauce and garnish with micro coriander and diced red onion.