MY HOMEMADE FISHCAKES
makes 5 large
250g red cod fillets or any cheaper quality fish
1(100g) fillet smoked fish, bones removed
200g salmon fillet
5 medium-large sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup milk (optional)
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp fresh chives, parsley, fennel or dill leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 leek, washed and finely sliced (can substitute onion)
Mayonnaise to combine
3 unwaxed lemons, cut into cheeks/wedges
100g good quality rocket, watercress or any good quality mixed leaves
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp milk
salt and pepper
NB if you have polenta in your pantry i often just roll my fishcakes straight into it and cook them like that. It adds a little crunch, goes a delightful golden colour and saves a lot of time!
Put the milk, bay leaf and garlic clove into a saucepan large enough to hold the fish. Check the fish fillets for any bones and remove if necessary. Place the fish (not the prawns if using) into the milk mixture, if the liquid doesn't cover the fish, top up with a little water. Bring to a gentle simmer and poach the fish until tender, add the prawns if using and cook for about 1 minute. Strain the fish through a sieve reserving the liquid. Set the fish aside and return the liquid back to the pot along with the potatoes. Once again if the liquid is not covering the potatoes then top up with a little more water. Add a pinch of salt and cook until tender (10-15 minutes). Drain well, this time discarding the liquid.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan and sweat off the leeks or onions until soft and translucent in colour (5 minutes).
In a large bowl add the potatoes and crush them up either with your hands or with a potato masher, (i like to keep a few lumps here and there as it adds texture). Now add your fish, leeks, chopped herbs and seasoning. Combine gently (i use my hands) as you want to keep largish flakes of fish visible. Taste and feel your mixture as it is important to get a consistency that is not too dry or too wet. Add 1 generous dessertspoon of mayonnaise to your mixture, mix gently, mould a little ball in your hand to see if it will hold together well. If too dry than add the mayonnaise as required.
To crumb the fishcakes you will need three dishes, put about 1 cup of plain flour with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. In your second dish break the egg and whisk lightly with the milk, set aside. In the last dish add the panko crumbs (i sometimes add a sprinkling of chopped dill or fennel leaves). Place them on your work bench in order of flour, egg and panko crumbs.
Mould the fishcakes into 5 large cakes, i mould them high and round and serve one large per person (obviously if you have small children mould them to suit). Crumb one at a time and try to use only one hand as it gets a little messy, and if the phone rings if gets complicated!!! Place the fishcake in the flour and coat well, pat off any excess flour and dredge in egg, drain off excess and coat well in panko crumbs patting them on firmly. If they have become a little misshapen this is a good time to re-mould, place onto a tray and continue until all the fishcakes are done. You can refrigerate them until required or cook immediately.
Preheat your oven to 190C
Heat up a fry pan with enough oil to cover the bottom. Also have a baking tray with a piece of greaseproof paper on it at the ready. When the oil is medium-hot (if unsure add a little piece of bread and if it fries immediately then it is hot), place the fishcakes in the pan and cook until a lovely light golden brown colour has formed (3-5 minutes), turn over and do the same on this side. Remove carefully from the pan and place onto the baking tray and cook in the oven until hot in the centre (15-20 minutes).
Meanwhile pick over the lettuce leaves, wash and dry well and put into a bowl. Make the dressing by mixing together the extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
To assemble; Drizzle over enough dressing to moisten the leaves and toss gently to combine. Place one fishcake onto your plate along with a handful of leaves, a wedge of lemon and a large dollop of mayonnaise or aioli. Enjoy!
I often make fishcakes when i either get carried away with my order for fish or when i am cleaning out my freezer and using bits of this and bits of that. I find them great anytime of the year and the variety of fish is totally up to you. Sometimes i like a little smoked fish, sometimes i like a mixture of fish such as cod, salmon and prawns. When leeks are in season i like to sweat them off in a little butter and fold them through the mixture. They can be made ahead of time (like the day before), simple to cook, liked by young and old.