You may already be aware that I am quite partial to fresh mackerel. I eat this very rarely though because, when I say fresh, I really mean fresh. I like my mackerel to be caught and eaten on the same day. Preferably by myself. And this usually happens only once or twice a year. In between times, I usually get my mackerel fix with the odd bit of smoked mackerel paté, of which I am also a huge fan.
This week though, I decided to be a tiny bit more imaginative with my smoked mackerel and make some comforting fish cakes. Fish cakes, along with fish pie are, to me, the ultimate in fishy comfort (...if there exists such a thing). I think both are all the better when made with smoked fish for extra oomph. The strong flavour means you can get all excited and add a few other strongly flavoured ingredients into the mix - I used horseradish and capers but had I had them, I probably would have thrown in a few spring onions and even (dare I say it) a smattering of chopped red chilli. This is definately one of those recipes that invites tampering and forbids the use of careful measuring. A little of this, a smidge of that until the flavour is just how you like it.
I enjoyed mine served with a salad of peppery salad leaves and a little balsamicy /mustardy/honeyish dressing. Bold flavours all round!
Smoked mackerel fishcakes
serves two very hungry people as a main course or four as a starter
300g of smoked mackerel (this is a standard pack size)
2 good sized potatoes
1 heaped tablespoon horseradish sauce (or more or less to taste)
1 handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped small
squeeze of lemon juice
knob or two of butter
plain flour for dusting
1. Peel and chop potatoes and then boil or steam. Mash with a little butter, but no milk or cream. You want a fairly solid mash.
2. Flake the fish into a bowl and mix thoroghly with the potato, horseradish, capers, lemon juice and parsley. Taste the mixture and adjust to taste - more horseradish? more lemon juice? Season with pepper and salt if needed (remember both fish and capers are pretty salty).
3. Crack the egg into a little dish and whisk briefly with a fork to combine white and yolk. Add egg to fishy mixture to help combine*.
4. Shape into fishcakes and coat with flour**. If you have time, place the cakes in the fridge for half and hour or so - they will hold their shape better upon cooking.
5. Heat a little oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the fishcakes until crisp and golden on the outside and hot in the middle - around 7 minutes per side (longer if they are really cold from the fridge). Take care as you turn them over half way through cooking time!
*the addition of egg is not strictly necessary. I didn't add egg for these ones. You can see that they didn't hold together that well - this didn't bother me in the slightest as they tasted superb, but if you want a firmer fishcake, then do add the egg.
**I coated my cakes in a light dusting of flour. Sometimes I coat them in egg first and then flour. And sometimes, for a really crispy coating, I dip them in egg and then breadcrumbs.