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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Post the Forty-fourth (in which there's something fishy going on)

Ok, so we have discussed my aversion to fish and my desire to address said aversion in previous posts.  I've decided that the best way to include more fish in my diet is to disguise it.  Fishcakes and fish pies are the friend of the reluctant pescetarian.  Hopefully, at some stage, my tastebuds will give up the fight and I'll eventually be able to enjoy fish in its own right.

The plan at the moment is to have one fishy night a week in addition to our veggie night.  I'll be the picture of health, I'm telling you.  Although I may have to revise that after a couple of weeks; my grand total of two fish recipes could well get a bit boring on constant rotation, but sure we'll see.  I should point out that for the purposes of this trial, I'm discounting tuna, cause I always ate that.

If you're lucky enough to have a fishmonger nearby, then obviously get your fish there.  I, sadly, am limited to whatever is in the supermarket.  As an aside, there's a deadly little fish shop around the corner from my mum's, which has been there for at least ten years.  I have driven/walked past it on an extremely regular basis in those ten years.  And I only copped last week that it is not, in fact, called J.J. Fitzsimons at all, but is actually J.L. Fitzsimons.  And this, friends and family, is why eyewitness testimony should never be relied upon.  Although I also thought for years that there was a pub in Newbridge called Jon Bon's.  It's Johnson's.  So maybe I'm just thick.

Anyway, the Great Fish Experiment of 2011 began last week with "Bolinho de Bacalhau", which are a Portuguese fishcake traditionally made with salted cod.  I was using smoked as well as fresh fish, so I tweaked the recipe a bit to make sure none of the ingredients clashed with the smokey flavour.  This was the end result and they were absolutely delicious.  This will give you six very large cakes, and to be honest, two per person is plenty for dinner, so we had them again the next day for lunch and they were even nicer again after a night in the fridge, so don't feel that you need to cook the entire batch at once.

Portuguese-style Fishcakes - makes 6

250g smoked coley fillets             250g fresh coley fillets (or any other white fish)
140ml milk                                  2 bay leaves
500g peeled, cubed spuds           large bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon                           1 red chili, finely chopped
1 egg                                          half tsp fennel seeds, ground up
Salt & pepper                             flour for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 190C.  Pop the fish into a deep baking tray (I find a loaf tin is perfect) with the milk and the bay leaves.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Have your potatoes cooking at the same time.

2. Remove the fish from the milk and go over it quickly to remove any bones - there should be very few if you've used fillets.  Whiz it in the blender to chop, or flake it with a fork.  Put it into a large bowl with the parsley, lemon zest, chili, ground fennel seeds, egg and salt & pepper to taste.

3. Drain your cooked potatoes, return them to the pot and mash.  Add a little of the poaching milk from the fish if they're a bit hard to mash.  Bung into the bowl with the fish and give everything a really good mix.  Have a taste and correct the seasoning, if needs be. Shape into 6 cakes and pop into the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up.

4. When you're ready to cook them, heat an inch of oil in a good, heavy bottomed pan up until a cube of bread browns in about 2 minutes.  Give each fishcake a generous dusting of flour and fry in batches for about 3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.  If you need to top up the oil between batches, give it a minute or two to come back up to heat.  Drain on kitchen towel and serve with a lovely big salad and extra lemon wedges for squazzing.

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