Growing up in Catholic Ireland was pretty strange in many ways. There were all sorts of activities that condemned those partaking to eternal damnation. One could also easily slip into the pit through sins of omission. I well remember the fear and guilt that I felt the first time I allowed more than a month to elapse between confessions. A one way ticket to the hot place. Today, for reasons best known to either God or the church the rules are a bit more relaxed. One does not attract eternal damnation of the soul for eating meat on a Friday.
Back in the day, our guilt ridden nation, cowed by Rome’s representatives, humbly ate fish every Friday. They say that eating plenty of fish is good for the memory and other cognitive functions. Unfortunately, many of those church related memories are pretty painful and difficult for us all to bear.
It is human nature to react against subjugation and so, generations of us Irish have grown up to avoid eating fish. For many decades, I was one of the oppressed who actively did likewise, despite being an enthusiastic fisherman from the age of four.
In more recent years, I have got over all of this and now enjoy cooking and eating a wide diversity of seafood. One easy and enjoyable way of preparing fish is giant fish cakes. They are popular with all ages and because they contain a good proportion of potato, they need only to be served with a generous salad to make a delicious, healthy meal.
What you will need
- Two or three different kinds of firm fleshed fish such as Cod, Haddock, Hake, Pollock, Salmon or Gurnard. About 750 grammes will do for four people.
- About the same weight of waxy potatoes, cooked, peeled and cooled.
- A generous handful of chives.
- A couple of pinches of paprika – to taste.
- Sea salt and black pepper to season. Be generous.
- An egg to bind and one for dipping.
How to put them together
- Skin and chop the fish. I like to cut it quite chunky (Chunky is a relative term. What is so in a beef stew would be outrageous in a fish cake.). About 2cm chunks should do it.
- Do likewise with the potatoes.
- Finely chop the chives. Add them and season.
- Mix by hand and form into big cakes. You should end up with six or eight.
- Beat the egg with bit of water.
- Heat a pan add some oil and butter (in that order to prevent the butter burning).
- This is the tricky bit. Because of the rough hewn nature of the cakes, they are inclined to fall apart. Gently dip them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Transfer to the pan trying to not burn yourself. If you do, it is probably worth it. fry over a medium heat. They will firm up while frying so don’t poke them around. (My grandmother used to say that food cooks itself and does not need to be poked. Good advice in this case.) Turn them.
- Prepare the salad on serving plates. If you can get Samphire, it adds greatly.
- When the cakes are cooked, drain them on newspaper / kitchen paper and serve.
- Friday is for fish: red and white quinoa fish cakes (thebigfatnoodle.com)