How To Make Delicious Fishcakes At Home

Fishcakes are a bit of a crowd-pleaser and work just as well for brunch as they do for a mid-week supper. From twists on the classic recipe to spice-packed alternatives, here some of the UK’s top chefs share their favourite ways to make them at home…

Tom Aikens, Chef/Owner of Muse by Tom Aikens

“Larger chunks of fish, with big flakes of cod and salmon are preferable – it gives you a far superior finish than the school fishcakes we've were all forced to have over the years. You can also play around with them: add spices for a curried version using mashed cauliflower instead of potato, plus grated hard-boiled eggs, coriander and spring onion, or maybe go more classic with peas, spinach, parsley and plenty of grainy mustard. They're also great with whole mussels and leeks, mustard and tarragon. Change what you like on the inside, but always use panko breadcrumbs on the outside – unbeatable!”

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Rupert Willday, Head of Food, Charlie Bigham’s 

“Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas mark 6. Prick the skins of 1kg of Maris Piper potatoes all over with a fork and bake in their skins on a tray for one hour, or until tender all the way through. Once cooked, remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Split the cooked potatoes in half and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large mixing bowl. Set aside to continue cooling. Rinse a leek thoroughly in cold water to remove any grit and drain well. Melt 50g of unsalted butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the leek when it begins to bubble and fry gently. Once tender, add the leeks directly to the mashed potatoes along with 400g of smoked haddock, 1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard, 1 tbsp of capers, the juice of one lemon and a handful of chopped parsley. Season well with black pepper and only a little salt, as both the smoked haddock and capers can be salty. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and shape into eight fish cakes. Cover and chill for 20 minutes or until needed. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Dust the fishcakes with a little semolina flour and fry for 4-5 minutes each side, until golden. Serve straight away with lemon wedges and a crispy salad.”

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Justine Murphy, Founder of MyMuyBueno Cookery School 

“Thai fishcakes are a real favourite. Use a firm white fish, like cod or haddock, and pop it into a food processor with a little Thai red paste, some fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, fresh coriander, spring onion, ginger, a bird’s eye chilli, a good squeeze of lime and some egg white to help it all bind together. Process until smooth. With lightly wet hands, shape the mixture into even small balls, place each ball on a board and flatten gently with the palm of your hand so each ball is turned into a burger-shaped patty. Pan-fry for a minute or two, either side and then finish in the oven. Enjoy with sweet chilli sauce.”

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Ligia Lugo, Co-Founder of The Daring Kitchen 

“The great thing about fishcakes is that you can use whatever leftovers you have, making them a very flexible dish. Crab cakes are a classic but depending on your budget and price you can opt for fish instead or even a mix of fish and crab meat. You can use cod, haddock or salmon, but for a juicier end result, I would recommend a combination. Be careful with the milk – too much and the cakes will come apart in the pan. Coat the cakes in flour (or polenta if you are going gluten free), then place the finished cakes on a tray and refrigerate until they are cold. This will also keep them from falling apart during the cooking process.”

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Andrei Lussmann, Founder of Lussmanns Sustainable Dining

“Panko breadcrumbs crisp up well, and aren’t as heavy as normal breadcrumbs. Make the fishcake in advance if you can, keep it in the fridge and then when you're ready to pan-fry it, re-bread it again to ensure they come up nice and crispy. Poach your fish in milk or water with a bay leaf and seasoning to release the flavour. Smoked haddock and salmon are good because they keep their flavour when cooked down and are relatively inexpensive. A good tip if you’re looking to keep the cost down is to ask the fishmonger for the cuttings: much like a burger, fishcakes were historically created to use up the cuttings.” 

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TESCO

Paul Bough, Resident Chef at Staub

"When making fishcakes, I like to use a variety of fresh fish and seafood, such as salmon, natural smoked haddock and tiger prawns. Fresh herbs can add great flavour to fish cakes – flat parsley and dill are my favourite. Try using a really thick béchamel (or white sauce) instead of potatoes – poach the fish in the milk first to maximise the flavour." 

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Cesar Fernandez, Home Economist at Miele GB

"The key for a good fishcake is to make sure everything is cooked perfectly before mixing the ingredients together. Use a floury variety of potato like Maris Piper and ideally, you should steam them – this way the spuds will not absorb too much water and will be fully cooked but on the drier side, helping to bind everything together. Once cooked, roughly mash them and add some salt and pepper. Keeping the potatoes on the chunkier side will give a nice texture at the end. Steaming is the best method for cooking fish, and, if possible, use a half-and-half combination of smoked and unsmoked varieties. When ready, allow them to cool down and flake them gently. Try adding some braised fennel with a little chili, dill and lemon zest if you are using salmon for the fishcakes. Check your fridge, and if you have capers and gherkins, finely chop about a tbsp of each and fold it through the mixture. Adding braised vegetables will make them moist and will help to prevent a dry fishcake. Make sure you chill the mixture properly before shaping and coating as it will make your life much easier. With a fishcake, always use a classic combination of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are preferable because they have a coarser texture which will make a crispier fishcake – it’s a nice contrast with the soft interior."

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Jamie Robinson, Exec Chef at Tesco

“Stick with the classics; salmon, haddock and cod cut into nice big chunks work best. As a twist, add a little diced smoked salmon, too – it adds a really nice depth to the dish. Then, make your own crumbs using leftover bread. Dry the bread out in a low oven around 80°C, then bash with a rolling pin rather than blitz so you get a really varied crumb – this gives a great textured finish. It’s also great to involve the kids, although it can get messy! For an alternative to bread you can also use porridge oats. Recently, we made some veggie cakes using roasted root vegetables and mature cheddar with lots of fresh herbs, they were super tasty and a great alternative. It’s also fun to experiment with spices. if you love Thai food try these Thai fishcakes. When it comes to serving suggestions, adopt for some baby Spinach leaves wilted with garlic and a splash of double cream, topped with a runny poached egg – heaven.”

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