Although most of us have a tin of tuna, pilchards or salmon in our kitchen, fresh fish, especially white fish, really does make a better fish cake. For really fresh fish cakes, you can use haddock, Cape Salmon, fresh tuna, salmon or even crabmeat. You could use hake, yellowtail, kob and red roman and you could even try using freshwater fish like trout or bass.
Canned fish is mostly packed in some kind of liquid (be it oil, brine or
a tomato-based sauce) which makes the meat soggy. Although brimming
with deep flavour, fish cakes made from canned fish also tend to be
heavier and difficult to flip over during pan-frying. If you do use the
tinned variety, be sure to drain the can properly first.
What else makes the perfect fish cake? Chopped fresh parsley, a handful of fresh white breadcrumbs, one or two eggs (depending on their size and how much fish you have), a finely chopped onion, a dash of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, all mixed together. If you want to give your fish cakes more body (or make your fish go further), you could add a few mashed potatoes to the mix - we would recommend this as it gives the fishcake a lighter feel.
These are the basics, but feel free to funk up your fish cake by adding a variety of ingredients such as a dollop of mayonnaise, tomato sauce or Worcester sauce; finely chopped chilli, dill or fresh coriander leaves; lime juice or chopped lime leaves; curry or crushed garlic.
For a quick Asian twist add sesame seeds and a dash of oyster or soy sauce. For more intense flavour add 5 or 6 mashed anchovies or a sprinkling of anchovy sauce, chopped tarragon leaves or chopped leaks cooked in butter till soft.
A simple sauce made from melted butter, smooth apricot jam and lemon juice will make your fish cakes come alive, but there's nothing wrong with a classic tomato and onion sauce or relish or a herby yoghurt sauce.
Into the frying pan
Once you've shaped your fish cakes, you could (but certainly don't have
to) roll each in flour, then beaten egg and finally coat evenly in
breadcrumbs. Or you could simply juggle them between floury hands and
skip the egg and crumbs. Both processes will result in a crispier cake.
cakes can be pan-fried in cooking oil, butter or margarine. Although
butter and margarine are more flavourful, they tend to burn faster and
your fish cakes may turn out an unappetizing dark or burnt brown. Fry
the cakes for 5 to 8 minutes, until light brown and crispy around the
edges, turning once only.
6 things to try with fishcakes:
Curried fish cakes with apricot sauce
Thai fish cakes
Salmon and wasabi fishcakes
Sweet potato fish cakes with beetroot salsa
Smoked snoek fish cakes
Salmon and bean fishcakes