smoked salmon fishcakes with pea tartar dip
These easy little smoked salmon fishcakes can be made ahead. I love them to soak up drinks at parties, or to serve a quick hit of omega 3s to my kids for dinner (tip – don’t tell your kids they’re having ‘cakes for dinner’ as they may be disappointed). They’re great on top of a salad for a light dinner. If you think your party will need people to double-carb to soak up drinks, or if you want them for a more substantial dinner, you could serve them as sliders on warmed bread rolls with rocket (arugula), tartar sauce, guacamole, mayo or ketchup along with some of my oven roasted fries.
For a less fishy cake you can use leftover cooked cod or salmon, or even canned salmon or tuna, but be sure to add extra salt to the mixture.
The pea tartar dip is a spin on the classic English fish and chip accompaniment and allows me to share my oh-so-easy homemade mayo recipe. I also love these fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce, guacamole, mayonnaise or garlic and lemon mayo. Leftover pea dip is lovely stirred through pasta or used as a sauce for roast chicken, veggies or fish.
If you want to prep ahead you can:
- Cook and mash the potatoes 2 days ahead
- Make the mayo 3 days ahead
- Make the pea dip 2 days ahead
- Assemble the fishcakes the morning of your party and bake or fry at the last minute
Smoked Salmon Fishcake ingredients (makes 25 bite sized or 10 dinner sized fishcakes)
900g (2lb) floury potatoes such as Russets, King Edwards or Maris Piper
140g (5oz) smoked wild salmon, roughly chopped into fingernail sized pieces
4 spring onions (green onions), green and white parts thinly sliced into rings
half a red chilli, chopped, seeds and all (use less if you’d like it less hot)
1 tablespoon drained capers, roughly chopped
juice and zest of a lemon
2 tablespoons gluten-free, spelt or plain (all purpose) flour
½ a teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges to serve
Pea tartar sauce ingredients:
Homemade mayo base (if raw eggs bother you or your guests replace this with a half cup of shop-bought mayonnaise)
1 large egg
180ml (¾ cup) light flavoured olive oil, rapeseed oil or avocado oil
3 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
a pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g (1 cup) defrosted frozen peas
10 chopped cornichons
Active prep time: 20 minutes plus 20-30 minutes resting time. Cooking time: 20 minutes
To make the fishcakes:
- Either microwave or boil your potatoes, whole in their skins. To microwave, prick the skins and cook them for around 10-12 minutes, turning once halfway. To boil, put them whole and unpeeled in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for around 25 minutes depending on their size. They are ready when you can easily pierce them with a knife. Cooking them in the skins retains their flavour and stops them becoming too watery.
- Once cooked, cut the potatoes in half and set them aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped salmon, spring onions, capers, chilli, lemon juice and zest, flour and egg. Scoop the potato flesh out of the skins and straight into the bowl. Discard the skins or bake them in a hot oven for around 10 minutes before eating them sprinkled with sea salt and vinegar (cooks treat).
- Use a fork to gently mash the potato and flavourings together, taste then season with salt and pepper, adjusting the flavor until you are happy.
- Take spoonfuls or handfuls of the mixture and gently squeeze them between your hands into balls – any size from walnut size for bite size cakes to handfuls for hamburger size cakes.
- Place the balls onto a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet/baking tray and gently flatten them to around an inch high.
- Pop the finished tray into the fridge for around half an hour, or up to a day, to firm up. You’ll want to cover the tray so that the smells don’t travel to other foods in your fridge. I usually use this time to make my sauce and clean up (see below).
- If you are cooking a big batch for a party you can fry them as per the instructions below and then pop them in the oven to keep warm at 120c (250F) for 20-30 minutes. Any longer and they will dry out.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed (canola) oil in a large frying pan, I use my Scanpan frying pan, until the oil quivers. Then carefully use a spatula to lift each cake into the pan and cook them without moving them on a medium heat for 4 minutes. Use your nose to smell and check they aren’t burning rather than moving them to check. The crust they will develop by being left undisturbed is what helps hold them together, move them around and they will fall apart.
- After 4 minutes, check one of the cakes and if the bottom is nicely golden and crusty, carefully turn the cake using a spatula and a fork and cook it for 2 minutes on the other side. Serve, sprinkled with sea salt with a cute bowl of the sauce and lemon wedges.
To make the sauce:
- This works best when you use an immersion blender and a tall, wide necked glass jar such as a 500ml (one pint) mason jar.
- Put your egg into the jar along with the lemon juice or vinegar and the salt and pepper. You could also add a quarter of a clove of garlic, minced to make aioli and/or a teaspoon of Dijon at this stage.
- Pour all of the oil into the jar on top of the egg, give it a few seconds for the egg to float back down to the bottom of the jar then put your immersion blender right down into the jar so that the blade end it is sitting on the very bottom.
- Without moving the blender at all, blend for 20 seconds. You’ll see your oil and egg start to emulsify, increase in volume, turn a pale creamy color and start to climb up the side of the jar.
- At this point, start to carefully tilt your blender upwards, power still on. Don’t remove it from the jar yet. Blend for a few more seconds and move the blender up and down a little to make sure everything is incorporated. That’s it. You just made your own mayo! You can pop the lid on the jar and keep it in the fridge for 3 days, or up to a week if you used vinegar in place of lemon juice.
- To make the pea tartar sauce, put your peas in a bowl or jug with the chopped cornichons and half a cup of the mayo and either blend with the immersion blender or mix with a fork for a chunkier finish. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon until you are happy that the flavours are balanced but still punchy.
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