Fish and potatoes are such a match that we almost take it for granted but no matter the exact recipe, these two are favourite combination for lots of people. And we must admit it’s not a rare paring in our kitchen, too. Fried baked or poached, the combination works just perfectly.
We were thinking about a satisfying but not too complicated dish and found something we can describe as our current favourite winter weeknight dinner – crisp fish cakes. We used salmon, but one of the advantages of the fish cakes is their flexibility – once you’ve bespoken the basics to your satisfaction it’s easy to play around with different mixes of fish, herbs, or even other vegetables or mustard, horseradish and gherkins.
To keep things simple and as light as possible we poached the salmon for our fish cakes. Of course, as wise and canny family cooks, we can’t ignore the fact fish cakes is the perfect way to use leftover mash potatoes and fish, either fried, baked, steamed or poached.
Another thing we particularly love about fish cakes is the fact you can prepare a big batch and freeze for later use.
We wanted our fish cakes to have more texture and look homey, so we roughly mashed potatoes with a fork, leaving some large lumps. The fish is also in rather big chunks, so you really feel the taste of different ingredients before they combine into irresistible savour in your mouth.
Makes 10 medium sized fish cakes
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
600g starchy potatoes 300g fish* 2-3 tbsp capers 5-6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped 1 tbsp chopped dill** freshly ground black pepper
2 egg, beaten
4-5 tbsp flour, for coating
50g crushed corn flakes for coating
3 tbsp clarified butter or ghee
*We prefer to use salmon, and the good thing about fish cakes is you don’t need expensive cuts, like fillets. Even trimmings can work, if you are patient enough to take of all the skin and bones. The recipe can work quite well with any firm white fish too, or even with a mix of fish, including smoked, such as haddock.
**Chives are also suitable, if you prefer it.
Cut the peeled potatoes into evenly sized chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until just tender, but not mushy. Drain and put back into the hot pan for a minute or so to dry off, while constantly stirring the mix so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Don’t skip this step if you want to make sure your fish cakes are firm and hold together in the pan. Crush roughly with a fork or a potato masher, leaving some lumps.
Meanwhile, poach the salmon – in a medium sauté pan put some water, the black pepper and a pinch of chopped dill. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Place salmon – if there is skin, put it skin-side down on the pan. Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Don’t overcook – you only need it to begin to flake. Drain and set aside to cool, then skin and carefully debone if necessary. Break into large flakes and add to the mashed potatoes.
Stir in the dill and finely chopped capers and anchovies. Mix all together gently. Form 10 medium cakes, using your hands.
Beat the eggs and place them in a shallow bowl. Crush the corn flakes with a rolling pin in a sealed plastic bag or using a mortar and pestle. With both ways you can choose how fine you want them – we prefer our fish cakes to be very crunchy from the outside, so we leave the corn flakes with some big particles. Put them and the flour in separate shallow plates. Dip each fishcake in turn into the flour, the egg, and finally the corn flakes until thoroughly coated. If your mixture turned out a bit too soft (it shouldn’t if you followed the recipe), you can put the fish cakes into the fridge for half an hour to firm up after coating.
At that point you can also freeze them and fry later.
In a big frying pan heat the clarified butter on medium to high heat. Add the fishcakes and fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden and well crusted. If necessary divide in batches, but do not overload the pan. Otherwise it is almost impossible to make them crunchy, and to turn them on the other side in one peace will be quite a task.