They are so tempting! The crunchy crust, the flaky texture and the flavour, especially when combined with mayonnaise and lemon. When we see them at the supermarket or at the fishmonger, we can’t always resist buying them. But we should resist the temptation because most fish cakes should be called salty potato cakes. Hardly any fish, limited herbs, the structure of mashed potato and lots of salt to disguise the lack of real flavour.
It’s not a lot of work to prepare your own fish cakes, so be brave and ignore the factory-made ones. The recipe is very flexible, you could make a Thai version (Tod Mun Pla) with lemon grass, red curry, onions and garlic, a traditional version with stockfish, or cakes with salmon, with shrimps etcetera. To be served with Tartar sauce, sweet chili sauce, dill sauce or perhaps hoisin. We prefer Jean Beddington‘s fish cakes (served with a beetroot chutney) or a more traditional version that focuses on the fish, with herbs and black pepper in a supporting role, breaded with our home-made breadcrumbs.
Let’s be flexible, a nice glass of beer or a not too complex white wine, it’s all fine. The salad, its dressing and the lemon will be rather present. Perhaps a Verdejo, Pinot Blanc or a Picpoul de Pinet?
What You Need
- For the Cakes
- 225 grams of Haddock
- 100 grams of Potato
- 1 egg yolk
- Black Pepper
- 1 Egg
- Olive Oil and Butter
- Salad with a dressing made of Olive Oil and White Wine Vinegar
What You Do
It’s best to make the mixture one day ahead. This allows for the flavours to integrate.
Gently fry the haddock in butter. You’re looking for a light golden color, just to give it some extra flavour. When nearly done, transfer to a plate and let cool. Cook the potato until soft. Let cool. Use a fish knive to make fish flakes. Use a fork to mash the potato. Chop lots of parsley and chives. Combine fish (and its juices), potato, egg yolk, herbs and a generous amount of black pepper. Let cool and store in the refrigerator until the next day.
Beat the egg, add a few drops of lemon to the mayonnaise and heat a heavy iron skillet or a non-stick pan. Make 4 fish cakes. Coat them with egg, then cover with breadcrumbs and fry in butter and/or olive oil on all sides. In total 6-10 minutes. Serve with a salad, mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon.
Making your own breadcrumbs is simple and worthwhile. The breadcrumbs at the supermarket are made of cardboard; yet another product you shouldn’t buy. Toast slices of old bread and let cool. Cut in smaller bits and then use a cutter or blender to make the crumbs. Done. They keep very well in the freezer.