Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fish Cakes

Happy Easter!  I hope yours was more fun than mine - I've been laid up since Saturday night with an infection of the stomach lining (not the same as an upset stomach or food poisoning and very painful) and have only really started feeling better today!  4 days of misery was not a nice way to spend Easter and it's also why I haven't blogged in a little while.

Good nutritious food is always important when you aren't very well - if you are able to eat - and these fish cakes pack a health punch as well as being low calorie, inexpensive and easy on a sensitive tummy.  
The homemade tartar sauce is a nice accompaniment - the vinegar from the capers is good for a delicate stomach weirdly (I was drinking apple cider vinegar diluted with water and mixed with honey.  It worked for me and relieved pain.  Please don't do this just because you read it here though!) while the lemon also gives a vitamin C kick.  Having a iron rich side salad (like romaine lettuce, spinach and green peas) will also help give your immune system some additional backup while fighting the powers of darkness.

This is an Angela Nilson recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website.  I was ill, I was not about to make one up on the spot.

For the tartare sauce:

7 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon capers (roughly chopped)
1 teaspoon creamed horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot (finely chopped)
1 tsp flat leaf parsley

For the fish cakes

450 g white fish (sustainably farmed).  I used haddock in this instance as it was on offer.  Smoked fish is also good.
350g white potatoes suitable for mashing (like maris pipers)
150ml milk
150ml water
2 large or 3 small bay leaves (dried are fine)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 egg
Flour (for dusting)
85g breadcrumbs (preferable from white bread 2-3 days old)
Vegetable or Sunflower oil (for shallow frying)
Lemon wedges


Make the tartare sauce  - mix all the ingredients together, taste it and adjust according to your personal preference and set to one side.
Make sure the fish is completely de-boned (my fishmonger had done most of it, but I removed the spines as well to be positive - there was not one bone in my fishcakes as a result!  Appropriate gloating noises here)

Lay the fish and bay leaves in a wide frying pan, cover with milk and water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Turn the heat off, cover with a lid and allow to continue cooking for a further 10 minutes.

The smell from the bay and milk is so comforting - it's like being wrapped in a big hot milk blanket!
While the fish is cooking, peel and chop the potatoes into small, even sized chunks and par boil in salted water until tender but not broken up.

Whip the fish out of the milk and bay mixture with a slotted spoon carefully so it doesn't break up too much and set to one side to cool.
Drain the potatoes and leave to cool for a minute or two.  Return them to their cooking pan, put the heat on the lowest setting and mash them up with a fork, stirring so they don't stick together.  You should end up with a dry, fluffy mash.

Take off the heat and mash in 1 tbsp of the tartare sauce and the parsely, chives and lemon zest.
Taste and adjust seasoning - you may need more salt and pepper here.

Drain any excess liquid off the fish and grind pepper over it.  Flake it into the potato mixture.  Using your hands if the mixture is not too hot, gently combine the fish and potatoes.  Don't overwork it or the fish will flake up too small!  Put to one side to cool.
Flour your surface, beat your egg in a bowl and pour your breadcrumbs onto a plate.

Flour your hands and then form your potato and fish mixture into cakes.  Making them quite small (smaller than mine!) will mean that they go crispier and it's easier to reheat the centre when you fry them.

Dip each cake into the egg, making sure all the sides are covered, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.  Put them into the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up; they are fine up to a day ahead of frying, or you can freeze them now ready for use at a later stage.
When you are ready, heat your oil in a shallow frying pan.  You can test if it is hot enough by dropping a breadcrumb in.  If it crisps up and turns golden your oil is ready.

Carefully fry your fishcakes in the oil, turning every couple of minutes to get all the sides golden brown.
Serve with the sauce and wedges of lemon.

I know it's childish but I really like these with a portion of baked beans.  Proper nursery supper!

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