There are some things that call themselves a cake when they really have no right to at all.
I like liquorice but still remember the disappointment of my first ever Pontefract cake. I think I thought it would be Eccles-y.
And I have a softspot for Kendal Mint Cake so never mention the obvious when it's around, but we all know its not-a-real-cake status is the elephant on the hiking trail.
Fishcakes however, I’m fine with. I think because it’s become one word and therefore one concept: a fishcake, rather than a "fish cake”. Which would be disgusting. Although doubtless "anchovy baba" one will appear as on some ambitious chef's tasting menu before too long.
Anyway. I made this for dinner last night with a pleasingly seasonal ("pleasonal"?) warm salad: Samphire, asparagus and tomatoes dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar. Also a spoonful of mayonnaise mixed with a teaspoon of chopped capers to make a sort of tartare sauce.
It was nice. Not as nice as a real cake, but I hear they are frowned on as a main course option.
- 300g fresh mackerel fillets
- 1 large floury baking potato (eg King Edward, Deriree or Maris Piper)
- 1 tbsp grated creamed horseradish
- small bunch chives
- handful of flour
- 1 egg
- splash of milk
- 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
- Grill or fry the mackerel for a few minutes on both sides until just opaque and cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Chop the potato into even pieces and boil until tender. Drain and let it sit in the colander for a few minutes so it dries out a bit.
- Remove the skin from the mackerel fillets (it should come away easily when scraped with a sharp knife) and flake the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes and add them to the bowl along with the horseradish, finely chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the fish and potatoes together. Be gentle so the pieces of mackerel don’t get too mushed up. Shape the mixture into four round, flat cakes.
- Put the flour on one plate, the breadcrumbs on another and beat the egg with the milk in a small bowl.
- Dip each “cake” into the flour so it is very thinly but evenly coated. Then into the egg - again a thin but even coat, just to moisten it slightly. Lastly into the breadcrumbs which should form a more generous layer.
- Either fry over a medium heat in a tablespoon of sunflower oil until golden brown (approximately five minutes each side) or bake in a 200C/gas mark 6 oven for 20 minutes, turning once.
- Serve with salad or peas and tartare sauce.
Ifs And Ands
- Use smoked, peppered mackerel in place of fresh with a spoonful of Dijon mustard instead of horseradish.
- Salmon fillets would also work well with dill instead of chives.
- If using a strongly-flavoured, smoked fish, try sweet potato as the mash component and a spicy salsa instead of tartare.
- The breadcrumb coating can be livened up with seeds, oats or or grated parmesan cheese.
- Mix cooked peas and shredded fresh mint into the fish and potato mixture.