|tartare sauce inspired fish cakes|
So in running down the freezer, I discovered a whole section of fish. Something from the back, Madam? There are several slabs of fish that I have no memory of putting there and for the life of me can't remember why . . . why didn’t I just cook them at the time?
Well, too late to worry about that now. Can I present you with exhibit A from the frozen nether regions of my Beko - the first to be defrosted was a large slab of white fish, that frankly hadn’t enjoyed it's time in icy conditions. It was looking a bit ragged - a think this is what is known as "freezer burn". But loathe to throw anything away and feeling virtuously frugal I decided to turn it (probably haddock) into fish cakes.
Fish cakes are one of the most comforting of dishes, something that can be turned into something richly unctuous and perfect for a cold autumn day, or gussied up with chilli and lime with hints of the Far East and a summer feast.
So for my comforting autumn meal I decided to combine the fish with some of my favourite ingredients, the things that go into a tartare sauce - capers, gherkins and lemon zest.
I'm not going to tell you how to mash potatoes, because in theory this is a great recipe for using leftover mash. All I would say is that many recipes for mash will use milk and I would suggest that if you are going to use leftover mash, set some aside before adding the milk. The reason for this is that otherwise your mixture will be too limp! (If you don't have any mash ready-made then bake a few potatoes beforehand and scoop out their insides).
Skill level: Easy
250g white fish (haddock, pollack or sole - try to avoid fish that are on the endangered list such as cod or halibut)
1 x garlic clove, smashed
1 x small onion, quartered
1 x celery stick, roughly chopped
2 x bay leaves
6 x black peppercorns
about 250g buttery mashed potato (floury baking potatoes such as King Edwards or Desiree are best)
olive oil and butter
2 x onions, finely chopped
a sprig of fresh thyme
2 x bay leaves
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped gherkins (about 3 or 4 small gherkins/cornichons)
1 tbsp finely chopped capers
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
1 x egg yolk (try to keep the egg white for something else . . . they do freeze well!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x egg, beaten
dried bread crumbs
- Poach the fish in the milk with the poaching ingredients for about 10 minutes, and then set aside to cool. When cool, drain. (You can keep the poaching liquid for something else, perhaps making a fishy sauce).
- Add a trickle of olive oil and a small knob of butter to a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Once this has melted add the onions salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves and cover with a lid. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes - the onion should be soft, but not brown.
- Pick the bay leaves out of the mixture.
- Mix the onion mixture with the mashed potato and leave to cool.
- Add the parsley, gherkins, capers, flaked fish and egg yolk and stir well to combine. Season with a little more salt and pepper.
- Create the fishcakes by moulding balls of the mixture (about 70g) and flattening them out. At this stage I would then put them in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.
- Dip each fishcake in flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs.
- You can either deep fry Deep fry in vegetable oil (about 180C) for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. However, I like to shallow fry mine for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side and then move to the oven (at about 160C) for another 10 to 15 minutes - as they fluff up a bit in the oven.
- Serve with a tartare sauce and peas, or with a spicy tomato sauce.
- A tartare sauce would be my favourite accompaniment. A cheat's version is to take a good store-bought mayonnaise (Hellmanns or Sainsburys French Mayonnaise are good) and add a little lemon juice, chopped gherkins and capers, salt and pepper and perhaps a little chopped red pepper.
- A tart, sorrel sauce makes a good accompaniment when in season.
- For a more peppery sauce make one using watercress.