This is a useful recipe to have up your sleeve. Fish cakes are a versatile dish: they can be made with leftovers but also from scratch, and can be seasoned with whatever herbs you have. They can also be padded out with spring onions or vegetables (peas or leeks, for example). Salmon looks pretty but any flaky white fish will work. With appropriate substitutions for the butter, flour and breadcrumbs, the recipe can easily be turned into something gluten- and/or dairy-free. Serve with tartare sauce and green vegetables or a salad to make a complete, balanced meal.
Makes 6 large fish cakes
Splash of white wine or 1 tbsp lemon juice
2 large baking potatoes
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley + some whole sprigs
1-2 tbsp chopped dill + some whole sprigs
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
50g seasoned flour
2 eggs, beaten.
100ml vegetable / sunflower / groundnut oil
Preheat the oven to 200 / 180 fan. Lay the salmon on a sheet of foil large enough to enclose it. Sprinkle on some white wine or lemon juice, dot with half the butter, lay some sprigs of parsley and dill on top, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the foil around the fish, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks – no larger than 2cm square. Put in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil and, once boiling, cook for 15-18 minutes, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Drain, return to the pan and then put back over the heat for 30 seconds, so as much water as possible evaporates – you want quite a dry mash for this. Add the rest of the butter, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and mash. (I follow Delia’s method here, using a hand whisk; it seems like a travesty but does actually work very well.) Leave to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes, the flaked salmon (try to keep some decent-sized chunks), lemon zest, herbs and seasoning. Get your breadcrumbing station ready: flour, beaten egg, breadcrumbs in a line with a platter at the end to receive the breaded fishcakes. Once the mixture is not too hot to handle (you may need to chill it for a bit first), shape it, a handful at a time, into large fishcakes and coat in flour, egg and breadcrumbs in turn. You might run out of breadcrumbs – the quantities specified here are a guess. Chill the fishcakes until you’re ready to cook them. (You can also freeze them at this stage.)
Heat the oven again to 180/160 fan. To cook the fishcakes, heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the fishcakes, then lower the heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Once golden brown on both sides, transfer to kitchen paper and then to an oven tray. Bake in the oven for a further 10 minutes until piping hot all the way through.