Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fish cakes with crème fraiche tartare sauce

300ml/10oz milk
250g/8oz smoked or fresh or a mixture of haddock fillets
250g/8oz potatoes, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
salt, black pepper, grated nutmeg, cayenne
2tbsp flour
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk
125g fine breadcrumbs
2tbsp sunflower oil

For the sauce
1tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
1tbsp cornichons, drained and finely chopped
a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves stripped and finely chopped
1 tsp creamy Dijon mustard
150ml/5oz crème fraiche
salt, black pepper
lemon wedges and watercress to serve

Put the milk in a shallow pan, bring just to the boil, add the fish and simmer very gently about 5 minutes. Take out the fish and flake the flesh. Add the potatoes and onions to the milk and boil until the potatoes are soft. Then drain the cooked potatoes and onion and put back into the pan over a low heat to dry out before mashing. Mix the mashed potatoes, onion and garlic, with the flaked fish, chopped parsley, capers, chopped egg, and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne.

Make the tartare sauce by stirring the capers, cornichons, tarragon and mustard into the crème fraiche and adding salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the fish potato mixture into four, roll into balls with floured hands and then flatten into cakes. Dip in flour, then beaten egg milk, then breadcrumbs. Heat the sunflower oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Fry the cakes until golden crusted underneath, about 5 minutes, then turn and fry on the other side until nicely colored too. Serve at once with a large spoonful of the crème fraiche tartare sauce, lemon wedges and a cluster of watercress.

Note: It’s actually a good idea to prepare the fish cakes in advance, in fact up to a day before. Chill the fish cake mixture before forming into cakes or the cakes themselves before breadcrumbing.

I’ve been wanting to try a fishcake recipe for awhile. It just seems like such a fun thing to do with fish. I eventually settled on this one from Favourite Recipes Books For Cooks, mostly because the crème fraiche tartare sauce looked so good. Also, fish cakes can be an expensive dish to make, but these were not so bad because they are stretched a little further then usual with the addition of the boiled egg.

This worked out great. I made the fish cakes the day before, which was handy because that meant that there was really minimal work on the day of. The flavor of the cakes was really complex because of the use of smoked fish, and the capers and eggs. Cooking the fish in milk was new for me. You have to be really careful and watch the pan because the milk can start to foam up out of control if it gets too hot. Other then that it was super easy and worked really well. Also I thought the idea of cooking the potato and onion in the fish-milk was genius. It saves you an extra pan, and it gives a really nice flavor to the potatoes.

The tartare sauce was basically just chop and mix. Couldn’t be easier really. The real magic of this recipe though, is the fact that both the sauce and the fish cakes themselves have such amazingly strong and intricate flavors, and yet they still manage to compliment each other so well.

Even my older son, going through his picky eater phase finished his whole plate without any prompting.

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