HADDOCK FISH CAKES WITH LIME AND PARSLEY SAUCE
Best of Modern British Cookery
by Sarah Freeman
These are light, fresh-tasting, and suitably sparing of the fish: 12 oz will serve 4. The sauce, which includes garlic, is very sharp, adding zest in much the same way as a hot chutney.
Buy haddock from the seas around Iceland and the Faroe Islands; avoid small fish (8 inches long) and the spawning season, which lasts from February to June.
You will need stale bread to make breadcrumbs for the coating: fresh bread tends to form sticky lumps (if, like my family, you never have any stale bread, fresh bread can be dried out in a very low oven).
As baking always tends to concentrate flavour, and you want the potato to be as dry as possible, I suggest baking rather than boiling both the fish and the potato. It is important, however, to bake the fish until it is only just cooked and to mash it into the potato lightly.
The flavour of the cakes improves very perceptibly if you mix them a day in advance.
Serve alone or with new potatoes and peas, broccoli, asparagus, and/or courgettes.
Allow 60-70 minutes for baking the potato and 7-8 minutes for grilling the cakes.
Makes 8-9 Cakes
• 10 oz (1 medium) floury potato
• 8 oz smoked haddock fillets
• 4 oz filleted fresh haddock or cod
• Bunch parsley (enough for 2 tablespoonsful when chopped)
• 3 oz onion
• 1/2 teaspoonful black peppercorns
• 1/2 lime
• generous 2 oz stale white or brown bread (not stone-ground), weighed without crust
• 3 tablespoonsful oil
• 3/4 oz plain white flour
• 1 large egg
Set the oven to 400°F. Wash the potato and bake it for 60- 70 minutes, until soft; leave it until it is cool enough to skin and peel it, taking care to remove not only the skin but the layer of hard flesh directly underneath. Mash it thoroughly. If necessary, skin the fish: starting at the thickest corner, pull the skin gently and ease it off with a sharp knife. Season the smoked haddock fairly generously with pepper and the fresh haddock or cod lightly with salt and moderately with pepper. Wrap both the smoked and unsmoked fish together in a parcel of cooking foil and bake 10-12 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork and is just, but only just, pale and opaque all the way through.
Trim the ends of bought parsley stems; wash, very thoroughly blot the parsley dry, and chop it as finely as you can. Peel and chop the onion as finely as you can; coarsely crush the peppercorns. Squeeze 2 teaspoons of lime juice.
Mix the parsley, onion, crushed pepper, and a moderate seasoning of salt with the potato. Drain the fish very thoroughly Flake it gently and add it to the potato with the lime juice. Mash it in thoroughly but with a light hand. Form the mixture into flat cakes; if you are making them ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and keep them until needed in the refrigerator.
Finely grate the bread, discarding any outsize crumbs. Set the grill to medium/high, line a shallow baking tray with cooking foil, and spread with the oil. Sprinkle the flour over a plate; season moderately with salt and pepper. Break the egg into a bowl or saucer, beat until it is homogenous, and season similarly. Spread the breadcrumbs over another plate. Coat the cakes first with flour, then with egg, then breadcrumbs, making sure that each is completely covered and shaking off any surplus. Place them on the baking tray, turn so that both sides are coated with oil, and grill for 5-6 minutes or until the upper side is pale brown; turn and grill for another 2 minutes or until the second side is brown. Serve at once.