Friday, 10 February 2012

A Pub Grub I Love - Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Dill and Crème Fraiche Sauce and Watercress Salad

Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Dill and Crème Fraiche Sauce
and Watercress Salad
Making the dill and crème fraiche sauce
Flake the poached haddock fillet
Shape into cakes
Clockwise from bottom left : seasoned flour, beaten eggs and
Japanese panko 
Fishcakes ready to be deep fry
Deep frying the fishcakes 
Smoked Haddock Fishcakes

Everyone has their favourite pub food and this is one of mine. The composition of a traditional fishcake is rather simple. Cooked Fish, mashed potatoes and parsley and that is all to it. Yet this union of all these humble ingredients in a crispy shell produces one of the most delectable treat known to the food world. Well, that might have been a slight exaggeration but it is precisely modest food like these fishcakes that make me fall in love with british cooking.

For a luxurious modern touch, I have used smoked haddock which I think give it a scrumptious and smoky flavour. I have also used Japanese panko to coat the cakes rather than a normal breadcrumbs as this give the finished dish a much lighter and crispier crust.

(Serves 4)


For the Dill and Créme Fraiche Sauce:
200ml créme fraiche
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
50g chopped fresh dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

400g large floury potatoes, preferably Maris Piper, peeled and cut into large chunks
600g smoked haddock
300ml milk, you might need more depending on the size of the pan for poaching the fish
25g unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 free range eggs
50g plain flour
225 Japanese Panko or fresh breadcrumbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep frying
100g watercress
1 lemon, quartered, for garnish


Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside to allow the flavour to develop.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes until tender, around 20-25 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a masher or a wooden spoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, lay the haddock fillets in a large pan. Add the bay leaf , butter and pour in enough milk to just cover the fish. Poach over a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the fish had turn opaque and is just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. When cold enough to handle, peel off the skin and flake the fillet into a large bowl, removing any bones. Keep the chunks as large as possible. Carefully fold in the now cool mashed potatoes and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dived the mixture into 4 and shape into cakes.  Wash your hands in between shaping to stop the mixture from sticking to your hands. 

Lay out 3 bowls. In one, mix the flour with salt and pepper. In the second, lightly whisk the eggs. Put the Japanese panko or breadcrumbs in the third. Dredge each fishcake in the seasoned flour, then dip into the beaten eggs and then roll in the brad crumbs to coat. Place on a clean plate, cover with cling film and chill for one hour, or until set.

Half-filled a deep, heavy based pan with the sunflower or vegetable oil and heat until a breadcrumb dropped in sizzled and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds. Deep dry the fishcakes in hot oil for 3-4 minutes, turning them over halfway, until golden brown and cooked through. Do this in batches if necessary, do not overcrowd the pan. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm in a low oven while you continue with the rest. 

Serve the cakes alongside with the dill sauce and some watercress that are lightly dressed with olive oil. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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