When I was young, my dad used to cook ‘yellow fish’ served with mash. It was smoked haddock of course, dyed a lurid bright yellow and cooked in butter. It was one of my favourite meals.
This fish cake recipe invokes all those childhood memories and gives me a lovely nostalgic feeling as well as being utterly delicious! you can use whatever fish you like, smoked or unsmoked, but I find smoked fish adds a lovely depth of flavour to this dish.
I have used Panko Breadcrumbs in this recipe, they are a japanese breadcrumb which is dried for maximum crunch when fried. You can use any breadcrumb, I’ve been known to use the bisto tubs of golden breadcrumbs (don’t tell any one) but you can use fresh if you have a stale loaf lying around.
This recipe makes 6 large fish cakes to serve 2 as a main course, but you can make them smaller for more people as a starter or light lunch.
2 fillets of fish – I usually use one undyed smoked haddock and one unsmoked haddock
3 baking potatoes
Knob of butter
1/2 pint of milk
1 red chilli – deseeded and chopped finely
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley – chopped
Salt and pepper
Flour – for dusting
Olive Oil for frying
First of all you need to cook your potatoes so they are easily mashed. There are many ways you can do this. You can peel and boil them in salted water until soft. You can steam them, again peeled until they’re soft. However, my fail safe way of getting fluffy and, most importantly, dry mash is to bake the potatoes in their skins. I will freely admit I usually do this in the microwave. You wont be using the skins so they dont need to be crisp and lets face it, its quicker! Anyway – cook your potatoes using your chosen method and when they are cooked, mash the flesh of the potato with a knob of butter until fluffy and quite dry. You don’t want to add milk or cream as this will mean the fish cake is too sloppy. Leave the mash to cool.
While your potatoes are cooking, poach the fish. Pour the milk into a wide pan, and top up with the same amount of water. Place the fish into the liquid and put on the heat, bring to the boil and then turn the heat off. The fish will cook in the residual heat. When its cooled slightly, remove from the heat and flake, into fairly large pieces and leave to cool completely.
While the potatoes and fish cool down, place the flour onto a plate, beat the egg with a little water and put into a bowl and put the breadcrumbs onto another plate. This will be your assembly line for breadcrumbing the fish cakes.
To assemble the fish cakes, mix the cooled fish with the potato, chilli and parsley. Mix well but gently to retain the flakes of the fish in the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form the cakes into balls and flatten to create cakes.
Dust each cake with flour, pat off the excess, then dip into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs to coat each cake with a good layer. Place onto a plate and continue breadcrumbing all of them. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 mins so they firm up.
To cook, heat about a cm of oil in a pan until shimmering. Cook the fish cakes for around 5 mins on each side on a medium heat until they are golden brown and crunchy.
Serve with salad leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice…and maybe some chilli jam!