My trips home of late have been hurried and frantic, but when I can, I will visit Cork’s English Market to indulge. I love to pop to the Farmgate Café for a toastie (either our famed Irish toasted special or sometimes something unusual like Ardrahan Goat’s Cheese & Beetroot), a coffee, or a rich and nostalgic Irish Stew for lunch. After that I will wander about picking up bits and pieces. This deserves a post on its own and it is way overdue.
One of the things I always do, is pop to Frank Hederman’s stall and buy my fix. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Frank’s produce. I used to get it at his stall at Midleton Farmer’s Market,and have previously called to his Belvelly Smokehouse to buy some for my market stall in Covent Garden. It’s wonderfully convenient now at the English Market. Better still, he has expanded his range.
For these fish cakes, I used his Beech Smoked Haddock. It is very gentle and rich, I haven’t tasted any other smoked haddock quite like it. Undyed (of course) it is a gentle pinky white with tones of beige, and imparts delicious smokey flavours, almost memories of their time at the smokehouse. It feels personal. It is.
I poached it gently in milk with 3 fresh bay leaves from the garden, and one medium onion, halved and studded with 6 cloves. I brought it to just below a simmer, and let it lull gently, careful not to scorch the milk. I wanted to leave the flavour shine, so added only mashed potatoes, fluffy local ones that tumbled over the flakes of fish. 3 spring onions from the garden lifted it, some of the poaching milk added some needed liquid and helped pull it all together. Parsley (again from my sister’s garden) added some gentle herbal notes – not too much, just background).
I shaped them into burger sized cakes and tried two ways, one just floured and fried and one with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs always win for me. I used stale sourdough, panko work too. Shallow fried and served with some mayonnaise that has some chopped parsley and spring onion stirred in, it’s a lovely light supper or lunch. Also lovely with a soft poached egg on top with the yolk begging to join in.
This recipe serves 4.
Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes
400g smoked haddock (undyed preferably)
900g peeled mashed potatoes – (weight before cooking)
1 litre of milk
3 bay leaves
3 spring onions/scallions
50g butter (optional – adds to the flavour but not essential)
a handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 eggs, beaten and seasoned
200g breadcrumbs (rough estimate – I just blitzed a large chunk of bread)
Half the onion, peel and stud with coves.
Add to the milk in a pan that can take the fish lying flat with the bay leaves.
Bring to just below a simmer, reduce the heat and add the haddock, ensuring it is covered with milk.
Leave to poach gently for 15 minutes of so, ensuring the milk never boils.
Allow the fish to cool and flake gently.
Add to the mash with the parsley, butter (if you are using it), spring onions with some of the poaching milk if required (you will need to do this if your mixture/mash is too dry to form a ball that will hold it together – you don’t want it sloppy though).
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Shape into 8 large or 12 smaller balls and flatten until they are no more than 2 cm thick.
Have the eggs in a bowl big enough to dip each fish cake in, and have a plate of the seasoned flour and another plate of the breadcrumbs.
Start by covering each fishcake in flour, then coat in the egg, and then breadcrumbs. If you want more breadcrumbs on the cake, egg and crumb again.
Shallow fry in a mixture of olive oil and butter over a medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, taking care they don’t burn.