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Recipe: Irish Salmon and Crab Fish Cakes

Salmon & Crab Fish Cakes

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.

Salmon & Crab Fish Cakes

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.

Salmon & Crab Fish Cakes

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.

Salmon & Crab Fish Cakes

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

Serves 4

Ingredients:

300g Salmon – I poached mine, not essential though, cooked salmon in any way will do
200g Crabmeat (pref mixture white & brown)
200g mashed potatoes
Fresh chives
150g oatmeal
1 egg
A little milk
S&P

Salad leaves

Dressing: 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, S&P

To serve: mayonnaise or tartare sauce and capers

Method:

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.

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Recipe: Home Cured Salmon

home cured salmon

Continuing with the fishy theme from my last post, this next post is also a recipe from the Tante Marie Seafood Cookery Course that I recently attended. This home cured salmon was swift and gratifying, the prep is super quick, and then it’s just a matter of waiting. The taste and textures tells of an altogether more complex process, but it’s the science behind the curing that does all of the work. It relies as always on high quality ingredients, so source good salmon, the best you can afford.

I think that I will be rolling this out for the summer picnic season. It would be perfect, especially with a nice cold glass of prosecco. Let’s hope it’s soon! The clocks have changed and these glimmers of sunshine tease me so.

Home Cured Salmon

Ingredients:

750g piece middle cut salmon fillet

Cure mixture for salmon:

1tbsp coriander seeds
2tbsp juniper berries
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp pink peppercorns
225g sea salt
375g granulated sugar

Method:

Place the pink peppercorns, coriander, juniper and fennel seeds, in a dry frying pan and shake over the heat to toast them. Grind them all together in a pestle & mortar or spice grinder.

Mix the ground spices with the salt and sugar.

Rub over the salmon, wrap well and leave to cure for 4-5 days.

To serve, wipe the cure mixture from the salmon with kitchen towel. Slice vertically, excluding the skin if you have left it on.

Recipe courtesy of Tante Marie Cookery School – for further info and for details on courses see http://www.tantemarie.co.uk/

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Fish pie for the soul

Fish pie

This month has been one for comfort foods, certainly not one for diets, not that I’ve ever gone beyond thinking that it might be a good idea to cut out x or y (usually x = crisps & y = cheese) and planning how I should successfully do so, usually to fall at the first hurdle, whichever shop crosses my path that sells the finest of either. I am not unhappy about that, I’ve never approached diets or the thought of them too seriously, moderation is best in all things (with the occasional lapse of course). Life is for living, might aswell just get on with it and make the most of it, eh? Especially when food gives such pleasure.

Once in school, we made a dish called fish crisp, a baked mackerel dish topped with irish tayto crisps (I kid you not). I was 13 or so, and hated fish at the time. When my mother would grill fish I would leave the house in protest and not return until I had deemed the smell gone. I virtually fainted when I had to skin the mackerel and had to be taken outside for some air but was brought back inside to complete it, much to my horror. I adored crisps but hated fish, how was I to eat the crisps without having even a scent of mackerel from them? It wasn’t to be, there was no way of rescuing them, and save the few crumbs from the bottom of the bag, I had to abandon them. I have no memory of what happened to that fish crisp after, but I do remember the build up in excruciating detail.

I’ve been thinking of that dish lately, along with quite a few others that we made in school, including one white pudding tart that I loved and would love to make again if only I had the recipe. It was one of our teacher’s own so wasn’t in the book but I do recall some carrot, white pudding and some shortcrust, but, that’s about it. I have a few ideas for potential white pudding tarts that could work, but that’s a project for the weekend.

For tonight, I had settled on fish pie – something of the calibre of that comforting and tasty tart. It had been a while since I had eaten fish so I made up for it with 3 types – salmon, prawns and smoked haddock in a smokey and fragrant bechamel with some velvety mash on top. I poached the fish first in some milk, with some peppercorns, coarsely chopped carrots, celery and onion, adding the prawns about half way through as they cook quicker. I then used the poaching milk for the sauce and it was lovely, it had some of the flavour of the veg and the peppercorns and the smokiness of the smoked haddock – very delicate and light. It would be perfect served with greens or peas, I had neither and was too lazy to leave my flat! I split the mixture into two pie dishes about 6 * 3 inches, but really there was so much fish I could have made three. You can also make one big one, of course. Serves 4.

Here’s the recipe in more detail.

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