With apologies to my Scottish husband, I’ve long held a belief that the Scots invented whisky to make haggis more palatable – or to make you forget that you’d eaten it. Yes, I know there are plenty of people out there who like haggis – my husband is one of them – but I am not. Regardless of the reason behind it, the Scots do whisky well – in fact, I consider myself just a wee bit of an expert on the subject. The Scots also do salmon – and that’s what this post is about.
These are, I think, the best salmon cakes ever. Dead easy to make and seriously good to eat. We had them with some steamed curly kale and a vegetable stock based butter sauce, but they were equally as good the next night (or lunchtime) with a leafy green salad and a dollop of aioli (as above). You could also, if you wanted, posh them up with a creamy Noilly Prat sauce. You’d definitely need something like kale to cut through the richness if you use this sauce.
Anyways, you need equal quantities of salmon fillet and mashed potato. I used 450g of each. The mashed spud is just done the usual way with a little bit of butter and milk. As for the salmon, we’ll be roasting this, so preheat the oven to 230C and grease a roasting tin that’s big enough to hold the salmon fillets. Oh, before I forget, don’t forget to pin-bone the salmon – we’ve all seen that Masterchef episode where a bone has sent someone home. Don’t bother to skin it – it’s easier to do this after it’s been cooked.
Dot about 25g butter over the salmon, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, some salt and pepper and 1 long red chilli that you’ve de-seeded and diced finely. Bake the fish for between 5-8 minutes – you want it to be a little under-cooked in the centre. Once it’s out of the oven, let it stand for 5 minutes and then flake it.
Put the mashed potato into a bowl and stir through 4 tablespoons of finely chopped spring onions (just the white part – I used the green leaves to flavour a chicken stock for the best ever cock-a-leekie soup…but that’s another post entirely), and 3 tablespoons of chopped flatleaf parsley.
Add the fish and mix it through.
Dust your hands with flour and shape the mixture into patties. If you keep them about palm size, you should get 8. I like them a tad smaller than that.
Pop them onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and freeze for an hour or so – until they are solid enough to handle.
To finish the fishcakes, do what you’d usually do to crumb something – set out some flour in a shallow bowl, a couple of eggs whisked in another, and some panko breadcrumbs in another. Dip in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. If you want, you can freeze them at this stage. To cook afterwards, you’d need to bake them in a low oven (150C) for about 45mins.
If, however, you’re cooking now, simply fry them in sunflower oil (or whatever you have – just not olive oil) for 4-5 minutes until they’re nicely golden.
Serve with green veg or salad.
Noilly Prat Sauce
I discovered this sauce in a Rick Stein cookbook and just love it. It’s rich and creamy and works amazingly well with salmon. We have it the way the recipe intended – with grilled salmon, boiled chat potatoes, and the afore-mentioned curly kale – but when it’s cold outside or you want something a little special, we also have it with these fishcakes.
Pour 600ml stock (preferably fish, but you can use vegetable), 4 tablespoons double cream and 4 tablespoons of Noilly Prat (a dry white vermouth that you should have in the house for your martinis…just saying) into a medium-sized saucepan and bring it to the boil. Let it boil rapidly until you’ve reduced it by about three-quarters. Turn off the heat and keep warm until you’re almost ready to serve. Cut 85g of unsalted butter into little cubes and put them back in the fridge for now. You can also finely chop some fresh thyme – about a teaspoon worth.
When you are almost ready, bring the sauce back to a simmer and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Stir through the thyme and season to taste.