Food and drink

Smoked mackerel and chilli fishcakes

Fish-cakes are a favourite in this house. Usually I just follow the recipe in Nick Nairn’s cook school book which produces excellent crisp on the outside, moist on the inside cakes. However this time I thought I’d go a little off-piste and spice them up a bit.

Basically fish-cakes follow the same theory as burgers. Once you have a basic mix that works for you then you can play around with it and add some different flavours. This time round I went for some chilli and lime along with some smoked mackerel instead of the Arbroath smokies. Smokies are fine and have a great flavour but they’re harder to find in the shops and take a bit more preparation.

It’s important not to do what I did and make the mixture too wet and sticky. It just means the cakes are difficult to handle and are likely to fall apart in the frying pan. It’s also important not to play with the cakes when they’re in the pan. Leave them alone so they develop a lovely crunchy brown crust.

Serves 4

1 pack of smoked mackerel fillets
3 small potatoes
Handful of chopped parsley
1 chilli, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 lime
Plain flour

Peel and boil the tatties for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft but not turned to mush.
Drain them and return to the heat to remove excess moisture.
Mash the tatties, add a knob of butter (about 15 grams) and some seasoning.
Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon and add a little milk. Keep adding milk and stirring until the mash has reached your desired texture (it might be wise for fish-cakes to make you mash slightly firmer than usual).
Leave the mash to one side or in a fridge to cool.
Peel the skin from the fish and flake it into the mash along with the chilli, spring onions and parsley.
Grate the zest from the lime and add that in with a couple of teaspoons of mayonnaise.
Stir it all together. If it’s not binding or it’s still a bit stiff then add some more mayonnaise but be careful not to add too much or you’ll end up with a very wet mix.
Take a handful of the mixture and shape it into a ball then flatten it out with the palm of your hand into a patty.
Repeat for the other 3 cakes.
Cover the fish-cakes and place in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours (this should help them firm up).
Heat some oil in a large frying pan and coat the fish-cakes in flour.
Place them in the frying pan on a moderate to high heat and DON’T TOUCH THEM.
After 4-5 minutes check the bottom of one of the fish-cakes. If it’s not brown and crispy leave them alone for another minute or so.
Once the bottom is golden brown carefully flip them over and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes on the other side.
Serve with homemade salsa.

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