While on holidays last week I allowed husband to buy some frozen meat pies for dinner. I can only blame the raging flu I was suffering from at the time. You can’t have pies without mash & gravy so I set about making some. In my brain stupor I just kept peeling and peeling – until husband finally questioned my OCD behaviour and reminded me to stop. Which left me with a tonne of leftover mash. My usual fallback is shepherds pie but this is summer for crying out loud so I thought I’d try my hand at the humble, and dated, fish cake. Mediterranean style not asian style. And being the tightwad I have become, I opted for tinned tuna & chilli. This is real 80’s home cooking at it’s best. Turns out, it’s terrifically tasty. Did I mention it’s deep fried? Not a method I use often but it’s healthier than pan frying I guess….
300-500g potato mash (I was working with leftovers so specifics escape me) – no lumps!
3x 50g tin of flavoured tuna (I used tomato chilli) or salmon or whatever you happen to have on hand.
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
fresh coriander, finely chopped, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
Splash of milk
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
(why panko? because they are light & crunchy where I find normal breadcrumbs to be heavy)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Peanut oil, for frying (we’re going deep so you’ll need plenty)
2 spatulas/fish slices (something to move around delicate fish cakes with ease – 2 works best)
Heavy based saucepan for frying, or a deep fryer.
a small bowl, a mixing bowl, 3 small plates & 2 large plates
some kitchen paper
Make your balls: **snigger**
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fish cake ingredients
Lay some baking paper on one of your large plates.
Form the fish cake mix into golf ball sized balls and drop onto the baking paper
Cover with baking paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or so. This just firms them up a little so they are easier to work with later.
While the balls are chilling get everything ready for frying:
In a bowl, beat the egg and milk lightly.
Get your 3 small plates out and sit them side by side.
Add the flour to plate number 1.
Pour your egg mix into plate number 2. (trust me, using the bowl will be messy and frustrating – just dirty up a plate)
Add the the panko and coconut to place number 3
(well, add enough that it doesn’t overflow). Give it a mix to combine.
Grab your other large plate and cover with paper towel. Sit it next to your frying area.
It’s crumbing time:
Pull your fish cakes out of the fridge and roll one quickly in the flour then give it a gentle wobble to get rid of the excess flour
Pat your floury ball down so it’s a flatter disk shape instead of a ball
Gently place it in the egg mix and pull it out as quickly as you can. Here’s where your two spatulas will come in handy – it’s extremely delicate and can fall apart easily so be verrrrrry gentle.
Drop into the panko mix and coat all sides very well. Really pour it on. More panko = more crunch!
Drop it back onto the plate and repeat until all fish cakes are crumbed.
Let’s Fry! (can’t believe I just said that):
Add the oil to the pan and heat on medium-high till it’s hot as a bitch.
If it’s not hot enough when the cakes go in, they’ll be soggy and yuck. If it’s smoking they’ll burn. You want the oil to be shimmering, moving but only just.
Gently gently place a fish cake into the oil. You can put in a couple at a time just don’t overfill your pan because the oil will cool down too much and you won’t have space to flip
After about 30 seconds to a minute, give it a flip if it needs it
If it looks all dark golden and crunchy it’s done so gently take your two spatulas, lift it out and onto the kitchen paper
Serve with a crunchy asian salad.
Serves 2 with enough for lunch for 1 the following day.