I’m on a continuous quest to get more fish into my diet. When I was younger, we’d have fish at least once a week for our Sunday dinner, instead of the ubiquitous Sunday roast that other families enjoyed. Often, the fish would be served whole, so we learnt to fillet and remove bones at a very early age, the alternative being to go hungry. My dad is and was a very keen angler. I remember that on a particularly prolific day, he brought home no less than 10 trout for our dinner (and the freezer). I also remember him filleting fish on the breakfast bar, being fascinated as a child about the inner workings of the fish under the knife. But that’s a story for another time!
As an angler and the main cook in the family, my dad knew how to show off a fillet of fish to its best advantage. We enjoyed fish in so many delicious ways; baked in foil with butter, in a bouillabaisse, poached in a creamy parsley sauce, simply fried in breadcrumbs. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!
Nowadays, I don’t keep a ready stock of fish in my freezer and I don’t like buying from supermarkets because there is no variety, most of the species they stock are overfished, and everything is usually already cooked (badly). I occasionally go to the fishmongers, but that’s a luxury for me. My partner in crime is also rather fussy about seafood, as I’ve discovered most Brits are. Bones, heads and tails are the enemy! But I yearn for the flavour and simple goodness of the fish suppers of my childhood. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to cook and put more fish on our table. It is so easy to substitute chicken with it – fish curries are one of my favourite things – so there shouldn’t be any excuses!
This recipe is so easy, I wonder why more of us don’t do it. You don’t even have to do much to the fish, as it’s already been filleted and smoked. There are no breadcrumbs involved and the ingredient list is ultra-simple, cheap and adaptable. This recipe makes 4 large fishcakes.
You will need:
3 smoked mackerel fillets (I used a ready smoked packet from the supermarket)
4 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp cooked buckwheat, mashed potato or rice – use what starchy leftovers you have!
1 tbsp ground flaxseed – optional as this is for binding purposes if the mixture is a bit too runny (you could also use ground oats, ground almonds, ground psyllium husk or something similarly binding)
½ tsp pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a baking tin (you could use greaseproof paper, but I try not to for environmental reasons).
Take the skin off the mackerel and flake the fillets into a large bowl. Add the spring onions, mustard, eggs, buckwheat and pepper and combine the ingredients together. Now take a look at the mixture. Does it look quite firm and will it keep its shape when formed into a patty? If not, add some more buckwheat or the ground flaxseed (or subs) that I have suggested, and mix again until you achieve a good consistency.
Form the mixture into 4 fishcake patties and place onto the baking try. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning the fishcakes over halfway.
The fishcakes are ready when they’re brown and slightly crispy on the outside. A knife or fork inserted into the middle of a fishcake should come out hot to the touch.
Serve with mashed potato and peas for a traditional fishcake supper, or with a salad for a summer lunch.
How do you feel about eating fish? Do you cook a lot of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and favourite recipes if you have any!