Back in Ireland for a few weeks, to celebrate a friends wedding, my nieces first birthday, and a fairly significant one of my own (quietly for a change), I felt inspired to cook something Irish, something that reminded me of my roots and drew from the surrounding area. I decided on fish cakes.
Not something that I would ever eat as a child being the fussiest creature crawling the face of the earth, I discovered them later on, preferring those packed with fish, with crispy exteriors and fresh salads with creamy dressings and sharp capers and cornichons. Maybe some lovely tartare sauce or simply homemade mayonnaise. Irish fish cakes should have potato too though, so I always add a little bit.
I haven’t made them in a while, in fact I grew to hate them. It’s the most popular recipe on this blog, but not one of my favourites, and I resented that poor little post from the early days when my photos came from a battered old camera. It’s time to embrace fish cakes one more and in light of the occasions this week, a little luxury was required in the form of some crab meat.
As I was home, in an Irish seaside town, I had the luxury and convenience of a local fish shop with fresh locally caught crab and delicious salmon. My home is not very far from Flahavan’s Mills, where they produce lovely porridge oatlets which I love and eat all the time in London. I substituted their pinhead oats for breadcrumbs to coat the salmon. It worked beautifully giving lovely crunch and texture. A little bit healthier too perhaps.
I poached my salmon first with fresh bay leaves and parsley and thyme from the garden with a dozen or so black peppercorns in milk. I poached it gently for 15 – 20 mins, let it cool and discarded the skin, gently flaking the salmon and combining it with a couple of spoonfuls of the poaching milk, the mashed potatoes, fresh chopped chives, the crab and it was good to go. Easy! And perfect too with leftover salmon or other fish you might have to hand.
I served these with a simple salad (again picked fresh from the garden – such luxury for a Londoner!), french dressing, capers and mayonnaise. A homemade tartare sauce goes very well too.
I baked and fried these. Baked is healthier and takes about 35 minites at 200 degrees celsius. Frying gives a much better texture, and takes about 5 minutes on each side at a moderate heat.
Recipe: Irish Salmon and Crab Fish Cakes
300g Salmon – I poached mine, not essential though, cooked salmon in any way will do
200g Crabmeat (pref mixture white & brown)
200g mashed potatoes
A little milk
Dressing: 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, S&P
To serve: mayonnaise or tartare sauce and capers
If you are poaching the salmon, cover the salmon with milk, and add some bay leaves, parsley and what ever other herbs you have to hand, some peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and leave to poach gently over a very low heat for 15 – 20 minutes.
Leave to cool and peel the skin off. Flake and mix with the crab, mashed potato and a handful of fresh chives. Season to taste. Depending on your potatoes, you may like to add a couple of tasblespoons of milk (from the poaching liquor if you poached). You may not need this, judge by tying to shape a fish cake, and if it needs more moisture add the milk.
Season the oats. Divide the fish cake mixture into 8 and shape into flattened balls. Dip these in the beaten egg and coat in the seasoned oats. Fry at a moderate heat for about 5 minutes on each side until crisp and heated through.
Dress the salad leaves and serve the fish cakes on top with a sprinkling of capers and some mayonnaise or tartare sauce on the side.