These fishcakes are not what you would expect traditional fishcakes to be like. Firstly, they are large fishcakes (one served per portion) that are easy to prepare and make a filling meal that looks spectacular too. Secondly, these fishcakes are ‘naked’ which means they’re gluten-free. So, all good reasons to prepare this delicious recipe for your friends and family.
For this recipe, I use a mixture of smoked and natural (unsmoked) haddock, as I personally quite like the flavour of smoked haddock but find it a little too overpowering on its own in a recipe like this. However, you don’t have to use smoked fish if you are not so keen on it. Other alternatives and combinations that would work just as well are fresh salmon mixed with smoked salmon, fresh mackerel mixed with smoked mackerel, or simply cod or even sea trout.
To make these fishcakes, firstly a small amount of fish purée is made and this forms the ‘glue’ that holds the fishcakes together. The rest of the fish is then diced and mixed with the fish purée. No breadcrumbs are used, just fish and a few other choice ingredients. It is best to make these at least 2 hours before you intend to cook them as the resting time will help the fishcake mixture stick together, firm up and holds its shape. I also like to prepare the fishcakes a day in advance (keep them in the fridge overnight), as it really helps to get ahead and allows me more time to spend with my friends and enjoy their company.
The parsley sauce is also not quite as traditional as you might expect. For this recipe, I make a parsley purée rather than a traditional white sauce with parsley running through it. The purée is strong and more condensed in flavour and therefore you do not quite need as much. It is also served chilled or at room temperature rather than hot. If you prefer watercress instead, then simply replace the parsley with watercress, and add a few mint leaves to accentuate the flavour of watercress.
Serve these fishcakes as I do with wilted spinach and charred spring onions, to create a delicious supper perfect for summer dining, ideal with a glass or two of chilled Gavi di Gavi.
Ingredients & Method
For the fishcakes
- 500g skinless boneless natural (unsmoked) haddock fillet
- 1 large egg white
- 25ml double cream
- 200g skinless boneless smoked (undyed) haddock fillet
- 1 tablespoon creamed horseradish
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed soft herbs (such as chervil, tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, for pan-frying
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the parsley sauce
- 100g fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 50ml cold water
- 50ml sunflower oil
For the vegetables
- 8 spring onions, trimmed
- a splash of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 300g (prepared weight) large leaf spinach, stalks removed and washed
First, prepare the fishcakes. Roughly dice 150g of the natural haddock and place it in a blender with the egg white. Blend until smooth, lightly season with salt and pepper and then add the cream, pulse-blending to mix (do not blend it too much as you need to keep the fish as cold as possible).
Transfer the fish purée to a mixing bowl. Dice the rest of the natural haddock and the smoked haddock fairly small (about 1cm dice), then add to the fish purée along with the creamed horseradish, herbs and lemon zest and mix well, seasoning lightly with a little more salt and pepper. Divide and shape the mixture into 4 large fishcakes – I use large metal rings to help with the shape, pressing the mixture firmly into the rings. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the parsley sauce. Place all the ingredients in a clean blender and blend until smooth and combined. Be careful not to over-blend the mixture as the heat generated from blending will turn the purée yellow. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate until needed (the sauce can be served chilled or at room temperature).
When you are ready to cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan and pan-fry the fishcakes over a high heat for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer the fishcakes to the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 6–8 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the vegetables, heat a griddle pan over a high heat until hot. Toss the spring onions in the olive oil with a little salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan and griddle until charred all over, about 7–8 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove them to a plate and keep warm.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the spinach with seasoning, then cook until wilted, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a colander and drain, gently pressing out any excess liquid.
To serve, divide the wilted spinach between serving plates, place 2 griddled spring onions on each plate, followed by a fishcake and a good helping of the parsley sauce, then serve.