Tuesday, 4 March 2014

tuna & potato fishcakes

I first discovered these fishcakes when I was at university. In my second and third years, I lived with three other girls, and we had a lot of fun cooking together. We made a rota each week, and cooked in pairs each night. I have very fond memories of those times spent in our tiny kitchen, with just four cupboards and a very precarious shelf over the sink, which was the home for all of our pots and pans. In that kitchen, I had my first foray with baking en mass, making approximately 300 cupcakes for a student afternoon tea, as well as coating a digital camera in molten chocolate, and eating raw flapjack mixture, because we were too impatient to let it cook first.

One of the things I loved about our times spent cooking with one another was the small insight that we gained into the homes we grew up in, and the meals that our mother's cooked for us. I had one housemate who had a love for pesto & balsamic vinegar, and another who adored cooking with red wine and cream. My love for baking grew in that home away from the home I grew up in, and those housemates brought me a bread maker for my 21st birthday. That gift changed the way I have eaten bread for the last eight years.

So, this simple recipe carries with it fond memories of my student days, when we ate frugally with a bit of lavishness thrown in every now and then, in the form of red wine and treacle tart.

ingredients (makes 8 fishcakes)
2 cans tuna (320g)
2 large potatoes
1 egg
fresh coriander (cilantro)
3 spring onions (scallions)
lemon for squeezing
sea salt & pepper
plain flour for coating
method

1) Peel and chop the potatotes, then boil for ten minutes or until cooked through. Mash potatoes and leave until cool enough to handle.
2) Drain the tuna then add to the pan with potatoes, along with the rest of the ingredients and mix.
3) Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan / skillet. You really don't need much oil at all, just enough to ensure the fishcakes don't stick to the pan as they cook.
4) Pour a little pile of flour onto a chopping board or plate (around 20g, although I've never weighed how much I use!) 
5) Take a handful of the mixture, shape into a patty, around 2cm thick, then coat each side with flour before placing in the frying pan.
6) Cook the fishcakes over a very gentle heat for about 8 minutes on the first side, or until they are turning golden brown, then flip over with a wooden spatula or fish slice, and cook the second side for around 5 minutes.
7) Serve with a hearty salad and squeeze lemon juice over the fish cakes for a nice bit of moisture and flavour. 

cooking notes
// Heat // It is important to cook the fish cakes over a low heat, otherwise you end up just cooking the surface of them, and leaving the middle cold, which is not particularly pleasant!

// Onions // I have also made these using finely chopped, raw red onion when I haven't had any spring onions, which also works nicely, providing you enjoy the slightly stronger onion flavour.

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