After the indulgences of the festive season it is time to think a little more frugally. I'm sure most of us have good intentions for the new year ahead with regards to our food intake but its always a question of 'how long will it last'? Im afraid I have to admit to having decided to go out for a run today but the trainers are still hiding behind the door ! It wont take me long to think of an excuse !
This recipe is a family stalwart. I have been eating these delicious fish cakes since I was a small child and they are so versatile they are ridiculous. You can change up the contents as much as you wish, they are always an absolute hit with the kids, you can freeze them and even cook them from frozen. They are healthy, light and delicious and you can change up the accompaniments and condiments as much as you like. You can have them as a bog standard TV supper or pretty then up and serve them as a lovely little first course when you have friends stop by. In short, they're a winner.
Ever since my sister and I had our own children our mother has simply been known as Grandma Ada. She will be 92 in March and still fending perfectly well for herself. She is a remarkable woman and is loved by all. She made these fish cakes often when we were children and we would scoff them down readily after we came home from school and we would have them with some simple bread and butter and baked beans. It was always hard not to have just one more !
My mother informed me in the last few days that in fact she in turn was given them as a child by Grandma Perrigaux. So goodness knows how far back in our family these little things go. For the purposes of the blog I have actually 'tuned' them up a bit with the addition of fresh salmon, lemon and capers because that's the way I love them. Back in the mists of time however they were simply made with tinned pink salmon and the other simple ingredients. Now before you throw your hands up in horror at tinned salmon just bear with me !! It works and in my opinion is not quite so tasty without. You can of course make them entirely out of fresh fish as I often do but there is something about the tinned salmon that is nostalgic and authentic. You can be the judge.
Grandma Ada's Fish Cakes
600g mashed potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edwards or other fluffy variety)
220g tinned pink salmon
120g fresh salmon
1 small onion, finely diced plus butter for softening.
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
heaped tablespoon of capers in brine
zest of half a lemon
30g grated cheddar cheese or similar
salt and pepper
plain flour for dusting
tablespoon each of olive oil and unsalted butter
Firstly it is important to note that all of the above is non-critical. The weights are approximate and there is no need to be precise. To make them go further for instance just use more potato.
Firstly peel and boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water. Drain and let them steam for a couple of minutes when they yield to a knife point. Mash them roughly adding nothing to them. Let the mash cool to room temperature.
Chop the raw fresh salmon into approximate half centimetre cubes. Chop up the tinned pink salmon into similar sizes but don't be precise as it will sort of mash up at the same time. Dice the onion into small pieces and soften for a couple of minutes in a little butter. Do not let it colour and let it cool for 5 minutes. Chop the parsley, I like to keep it fairly rough and not too small. Apart from the flour and cooking oil and butter combine everything in one large bowl and stir thoroughly.
Now shape the cakes on a board with the palms of your hands, rotating them and flipping them over to make the right shape. These are exactly 100g each in weight although you can make them more dainty if you wish. Liberally coat them with plain flour on both sides and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until they are needed. You can also freeze them at this point.
To fry them put in the plain olive oil and unsalted butter into a medium hot pan. Cook them for about 3 or 4 minutes on the higher heat and then turn the heat down so that they cook all the way through. Repeat on the other side.
Here I have served them with a mixed beet salad that is dressed with a dressing of honey, olive oil, light soy sauce, fish sauce and rice wine vinegar.
You can serve them with mayonnaise, lemon mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce, tartare sauce, baked beans, sweetcorn, bread and butter, any salad and the list goes on.
If you are cooking them from frozen cook them in the same way but for much longer and more slowly so the outside doesn't burn.
If you are going to use all fresh fish I suggest you use one oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna and combine it with a flaky white fish such as hake or plaice. Lightly steam the white fish first but use the oily fish raw and cut into small dice.