I love a fish cake. I don't make them often as they can be a little faffy, but they are so delicious. I had some tail pieces of smoked haddock left over from dinner the other night, and so used these up with some prawns from the freezer.
Fish cakes are really easy to make, they just take a little more time and planning than my usual dinners.
First of all, make your mashed potatoes. A bit less than you would usually do for dinner. Mash them up and let them cool down. I added a little parsley sauce left over from the other day, but it isn't necessary. The fish also you want only about half the amount you would normally use, leftover cooked fish is fine too, this makes a little go a long way.
Poach your fish if it is fresh - smoked haddock is excellent, salmon also, even smoked mackerel is good - in water with a bayleaf and some pepper corns (no salt for smoked haddock, but you would want a little salt for other unsmoked fish) until nearly cooked but not quite so it will flake in large pieces not little shreds. Remove any skin and bone and flake it in large pieces and let it cool down.
If you are using frozen prawns as I did, then you don't need to let them thaw out, if they are jumbos let them thaw just until you can chop them up a bit, but for ordinary small prawns just use them frozen, about a handful for two people.
Mix all up gently adding some chopped parsley and check the seasoning. Spread the mix out on a plate and chill for about 15 mins. Then form your little patties (about 2.5 ins or 6-7 cms across is about right) flour them and chill again.
Mix an egg with a little salt in a dish, and have a plate alongside with panko crumbs. You can get Japanese panko crumbs in all the supermarkets now as well as online, and they really make a lovely crunchy coating. Of course, you can use homemade breadcrumbs if you like, if you have any bread to spare. Dip the patties in the egg and coat with the crumbs attempting to not glue most of the crumbs to your fingers. I found a fork and a palette knife worked fine to keep me fairly clean.
Back in the fridge for a short while.
When you are ready to fry them, put the oven on a moderate heat and in a large frying pan heat about 2-3cm depth of oil - I use organic rapeseed, you can use whichever you usually use of course - until shimmering.
Pop your fish cakes in (3 each is more than plenty - you may find two are enough for you, depending on how fat you make them) and fry on each side until golden brown, turning 2 or 3 times. When they are nicely brown, move to a baking tray in the oven whilst you make the tartare sauce and cook some green veg to go with it all.
Tartare sauce is lovely made at home, you can put in anything sharp you like. I like capers, chopped shallots and gherkins in a sauce made of equal parts mayonnaise and Total Greek Yoghurt, maybe with a squirt of lemon at the end.
This is a cheapish meal ,but expensive in time. They do freeze nicely though, so would be a good thing to have tucked away. I had two left over so froze them unfried. I will see if they will cook happily from frozen and let you know.
What a luxury, eh!