Salmon takes little cooking and, when properly prepared, bursts with flavour.
It is also a great candidate for comfort food.
Consistent with the philosophy of healthy and economic food, this recipe contains a minimum variety of ingredients: inexpensively sourced, with no added salt or artificial additives, and no hydrogenated or otherwise adulterated items.
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Mise en place
This recipe requires boiled potatoes, and a lot of time can be saved by preparing them in advance. When preparing boiled potatoes I usually prepare a lot more than I need for immediate use, drain and cool, and keep sealed in the ‘fridge for ready use in recipes such as this (and others you will find on this site) over several days.
Before starting, make sure you have everything you need ready, as listed below. That includes: the ingredients, utensils, clean surfaces and chopping board, and clean hands. The quantities of ingredients are not critical, so you can adapt to suit your preference, diet or what you have handy.
- Salmon fillet. A good portion (2-3 fishcakes) requires about 100g. Alternative fish can be used.
- Boiled potatoes, drained and cooled. See above comment.
- Cooking oil. I prefer olive oil but ordinary cooking oil will do fine.
- I like to use a little paprika to impart some “bite” (about a pea in the above quantity), but please don’t be tempted to look clever with herbs and spices because they destroy the stylish simplicity and clean flavours of this dish.
- A clean worktop.
- Sharp knife and chopping board to cut the fish and potatoes.
- Clean hands.
- Big spoon to help form balls.
- Skillet to use with the frying pan.
- Frying pan large enough to hold the fish patties for frying.
Part 1 – prepare the fish patties
- Cut up the fish and potato into fine pieces. Some may use a blender but this makes the mixture too homogenous and spoils the coarse simplicity that give this dish it’s character.
- Remove any bones, fish is not always perfectly filleted.
- Add paprika and/or other herbs and spices (if you really must!).
- Mix it well on the board or in a bowl.
- Use the spoon to portion the mixture into balls a bit bigger than golf balls. The exact size is unimportant but it’s good to make them all similar size.
- Form the mixture in the cupped palms of your hands to squeeze out the air amd make them firm.
- You can flatten the balls into patties on the chopping board, or squeeze them flatter in the frying pan later.
Part 2 – fry the patties
- Pre-heat the frying pan with a little oil. I prefer olive oil but plain cooking oil is fine. You don’t need a lot, and I don’t even cover the bottom of the pan.
- When you place the first fish ball into the hot oil it should immediately sizzle. If not, carefully lift it out and wait for the oil to get hotter.
- Place all the fish balls carefully into the hot oil and very gently squeeze them slightly flat using the back of the skillet. Don’t press too hard as that will break them up.
- Leave for a few minutes, testing occasionally by lifting one to check for browning on the underside.
- When the undersides are lightly browned as you like them, carefully turn them over using the skillet and perhaps a clean finger.
- Leave for a similar time as before.
- I should point out that I prefer fish to be lightly cooked on the inside, and lightly browned on the outside because it keeps the flavour better, but you may prefer to cook them for longer. It’s up to you.
- Remove the patties onto pre-warmed plates.
This is comfort food. The coarse but soft texture is interesting on the palate, and the full flavour of the fish comes through.
It should not be necessary to use any dressing or sauce, as this would detract from the pure flavours of the fish.
Note on preserving
The short answer is don’t! The prep is so quick and easy the fishcakes should be fried immediately before serving.
For convenience (when catering for a party) the mixture can be prepared in advance and kept sealed in the fridge.