smoked haddock fishcakes with sliced greens

I’ve chosen my second recipe idea for Mother’s Day to be these smoked haddock fishcakes with sliced greens. The brilliant thing about these fishcakes is their versatility – serve alone on a bed of greens, they are a starter; serve in threes alongside greens, tartare sauce and lemon wedges, and you have a great main course. This means you have a lot to play around with in terms of using this recipe in dinner-party-scenarios, especially if you are torn between dishes!

The main flavour of these fishcakes comes from the mashed potato – so make sure you try it throughout to ensure it is the best it can be (an excuse to nibble whilst you cook…perfect)! Starting first with the use of condiments, although horseradish sauce often divides opinion, in this recipe it serves to add creaminess alongside its perfect partner, mayonnaise. Even if you dislike the usual spiciness of horseradish, I would suggest using a creamed rather than hot variety instead of omitting it completely – the difficulties in making good fishcakes are firstly ensuring they retain their shape, and secondly in ensuring that if they do retain their shape, it is not because they are too dry to contemplate falling apart! In this recipe, the combination of these two condiments gives the mash a moistness that allows the circular shape of the fishcakes to remain a constant, whilst ensuring they are not unexciting in flavour.

The mayonnaise and the horseradish also adds to the mashed potato a creaminess that greatly enhances the texture of this dish. The introduction of the seafood taste comes not only from the fish itself, but from the milk in which the haddock is poached – the milk takes on a subtle fish flavour, which when added to the mash only contributes to its moisture. This is further improved by pairing of the lemon zest and the parsley, lending a freshness that I think should be present with most seafood dishes – the feeling of being by the seaside in your own home! Essentially, the mash makes this dish. So give it due attention and time, monitoring its flavour and the progress of its consistency; it is crucial to fishcake success!

Ingredients

  • Potatoes – one per person
  • Smoked haddock (or most other smoked fish)
  • Small red onion, diced
  • Mayonnaise
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Milk
  • Lemon zest
  • Parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into rough chunks, and boil for twenty minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes, and return them to the pan. Placing the pan back over a low heat, add butter to the potatoes and allow it to melt – mash lightly with a fork. If the potatoes become too dry, add more butter, or a splash of milk.
  2. When the mash is complete, transfer to a medium sized bowl, and season.
  3. Here the flavour of the fishcake is created – add mayonnaise and horseradish in equal measure; perhaps a dessert spoon of each. Mix into the mash, and taste. If necessary, add either more mayonnaise or horseradish to your personal preference, but avoid adding so much that the mash cannot hold its shape! If the mash lacks certain stiffness, it will be difficult for the fishcakes to retain their shape when cooking later.
  4. When a good ratio of horseradish to mayonnaise has been reached, add parsley to taste, plus the zest of quarter of a lemon. Again, sample the mash to measure its flavour!
  5. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add a small amount of oil. Fry off the onion, then add to the mash. Returning the saucepan to the heat, cover its bottom with milk.
  6. Bring the milk to the boil; reduce to a simmer. Add the fish, and season. Cover the saucepan if possible, and simmer for five to ten minutes until the fish is cooked.
  7. Remove the fish from the pan, reserving the milk, and flake the haddock in large chunks into the bowl of mash. Combine the two together – it is important to do this gently, to avoid the fish becoming a paste!
  8. Carefully add the milk from the saucepan, ensuring that the mash does not lose its shape nor become too fluid! Once the fishcake mixture is finished, take a spoonful and mould into circular patties, placing them on a plate.
  9. Beat an egg in a small bowl, and put the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Dip each fishcake patty into the beaten egg, before placing in the breadcrumbs. Shape the breadcrumbs to the shape of the fishcake, and then return to the plate. Repeat this process for all of the fishcakes, and then transfer the plate to the fridge.
  10. Refrigerate the fishcakes for a rough minimum of half an hour, to set their circular shape.
  11. Heating a large saucepan, add oil. When the oil is hot, add the fishcakes, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the fishcakes on either side until warm all the way through, and golden in colour on both sides.
  12. Whilst the fishcakes are cooking, boil sliced green vegetables in slightly salted water for five to ten minutes until tender.
  13. Drain the greens, and serve alongside the fishcakes. Season, and squeeze over fresh lemon juice.
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