I had a game of Luck Dip this weekend. In my local deli I spotted some home made fishcakes and decided they were perfect for The Month Of Solitude. It was only when I got them home that the questions started to emerge.
I thought that the lady described them as smoked haddock but I couldn’t be sure. I really should have established this before buying. I also didn’t get any cooking instructions. I was more focussed on whether they would freeze or not. There are some clues. They were quite heavy and thick. Whatever I do is going to need a longer cook. I wanted a crust on the outside but the breadcrumbing on the outside was quite floury rather than crunchy breadcrumbs. I don’t particularly like frying food and if I do I tend to use as little oil as possible which can result in charring more than browning. I settled for baking them and sprayed some olive oil on each side (probably a mistake as this just seemed to soak into the flouriness).
The weight also started to make me wonder about the flavour. Fishcakes can be incredibly insipid when they are made with too much potato and not enough fish. I have had some salmon fishcakes in particular which must have been made by some form of homeopath who only applied trace elements of fish. In this case I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and went for serving it with faux crispy Chinese seaweed made from kale and used up some carrots too.
I like kale and after stripping the leaves from the stalks roughly I shredded and washed them and left them to drain for a while. I gave them a good shake too because I wanted as little water as possible. I put it in a bowl and added a sprinkle of sugar and salt and a little olive oil. I tossed it all together. Meanwhile I started the fishcake off on a low-medium temperature on a baking tray with a non-stick sheet. After twenty minutes there was no browning to speak of but at least I assumed it was cooking through. I turned up the heat to maximum and turned it every five minutes until I got what I was looking for. The best brown came from the side ‘frying’ on the baking sheet with the upper surface just going golden.
It turned the temperature back down, spread the kale mix over the baking sheet like a green sea around a desert island and cooked it for around ten minutes checking regularly and turning the kale over until it was dry and crispy but not burnt. You need to check this regularly as a minute can make all the difference.
The end result? The fishcake was delicious. It was smoked haddock and it was a lovely strong flavour. With the mashed potato it tasted cheesy too like a good fish pie and the crust added nice texture. The crispy kale was tasty too. The combination was terrible – the price to be paid for working with ingredients you don’t know and focusing on using up the ingredients you have to hand rather than the resulting dish. The biggest missing element was moisture. I would have been better off steaming the kale and putting a poached egg on top.
Surely I’d learnt my lesson and I still had one fishcake to go.