Fish cakes

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Definitely, not my Mother’s pasteis de bacalhau [codfish pastries]… Still, a very good effort for half the calories and (almost) all the flavour.

On a side note – and because I don’t see myself doing codfish pastries Portuguese style anytime soon, I better say it now before I forget it for ever.  My Mother and I have kept having a surrealistic conversation every time I went back to visit my family. “So, is there anything special you want me to cook for you?”, she would ask. “Not really… unless maybe pasteis de bacalhau”, I would say. “No, no, no…. anything but that.. it is such a hassle”, would invariably be her reply, in a tone which didn’t allow any further witty remarks. If I remember well, the only time she has cooked them herself it was when I admitted I went for dinner with a friend whose Mother had graced with a batch of homemade pastries. “What!”, she said. “No no need to go out to have pastries!!! I’ll cook them for you tomorrow!!!!!!”. And she did, much to everybody’ surprise and delight. I almost feel tempted to send her this pic in case she decides to prove me wrong and cook this once again. I should probably by a roll-eyes moment, followed by some scorn over using paprika and forgetting the parsley.

Fish cakes (adapted from a Hairy Dieters’ recipe found on the GoodFoodChannel)

Ingredients 

  • 275 g potatoes  peeled and cut into rough 3cm chunks
  • 300 g cod, unskinned
  • 100 g smoked haddock, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ lemons, finely zested
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • Enough olive oil for spraying
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

 Method

Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. 

Drain the potatoes well in a colander, tip them back into the pan and mash them until smooth. Put the mash in a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper.

In the meanwhile, put the cod fish fillets in a large saucepan, placing the thicker fillets on the bottom. Cover with cold water and add the bay leaf. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately take the pan off the heat and leave the fish to stand for 5 minutes. Once the fish is poached, drain the fish really well in a colander and break it into large chunks. Be careful to discard the skin and any bones as you go.

Put the all the fish  – cod and haddock – in the same bowl as the mashed potato.  Stir in the lemon zest and spring onions with a large wooden spoon, trying not to break up the fish too much.

Divide the mixture into 4 balls and flatten each ball to about 3cm thick. If the mixture is too soft to shape into balls, cover and leave it to cool for a while.

Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika in a large bowl. Dip a fishcake into the egg, coating it on all sides. Allow any excess egg to drip off the fishcake and then place it in the breadcrumbs, turning it and pressing firmly to get an even coating of crumbs on all sides. Prepare the remaining cakes in the same way. Leave them to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Use them within 24 hours, though.

To cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 220C.  Cover a baking tray with parchment and slightly grease it with olive oil  Place the fish cakes on it and brush (or spray) them with the olive oil. Bake them for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve with vegetables or a lightly dressed salad and some lemon wedges for squeezing

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