Okay, there is a salad in the photo at end of post. It’s just not the salad I’d like with these tuna fish cakes. A large bowl of: rocket/arugula leaves, artichoke hearts in oil, ripe avocado, pumpkin seeds, bacon crumbs, chopped capers, half a boiled egg with a simple dressing of white balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and, maybe a little Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese freshly grated on top. A purple olive or 2? Hmm…dream on. Trying to get that list together would be almost impossible, here. One of the downsides of living outside of Central London. Of course, I could pop up to a superstore only 4 miles away. Yet, I can’t stand those places. Especially as I’m usually the only person with a basket holding a handful of items whilst others frenetically whiz past with huge trolleys loaded up to the hilt like there’s going to be a food shortage.
The potatoes couldn’t be simpler. They’re salad potatoes (a large floury potato would be more suitable as mine were quite crisp) sliced crossways into circles, about 4mm (0.15 “) in thickness, and pan-fried until golden on both sides. My rather meagre salad was vine tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Not quite the feast I’d hoped for.
Fish were nice, though. Crunchy on their outside, moist and flavoursome in. Again, I’m not using an egg to bind the mixture. Instead, I’ve used 2 heaped dessertspoons of full fat cream cheese. If on a diet, and I never am, use low fat instead. Or, try using mascarpone or crème fraîche. The cakes do need to be coated in breadcrumbs (the cakes in the photos above and below this text were coated with ground almonds instead) rather than floured to prevent them from sticking to a heavy-based pan, as I found out last night. Oops! And it’s a quick home-made parsley sauce in the photos above and below.
Tuna Fish Cakes
- rapeseed and olive oil
- If caramelising onions: 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, top sliced off, peeled, cut in half and chopped
- If not caramelising onions: 100g x onions, top sliced off, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 2 x medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed/minced
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper, less or more to personal taste
- 1 x 185g or 130g drained weight (6.52 or 4.58 oz drained) can tuna flakes, well drained
- 200g (7.05 oz) x white potatoes or floury potatoes, scrubbed (if using waxy potatoes use 300g (10.58 oz) as the mixture will be too wet)
- 1 – 2 x tablespoons fresh curly parsley (or more to personal taste), washed and either finely snipped or finely chopped, including stems (if serving these with parsley sauce use 1 tbs in the burger mixture and the other within the sauce)
- large pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 x heaped tablespoons full fat cream cheese with garlic and herbs AND/OR
- 1 x medium egg, whisked lightly for binding
- 1/2 x teaspoon finely grated lemon zest – optional
- ground almonds, to coat cakes OR
- 1 x slice wholemeal brown bread (or your favourite type, especially if gluten free is needed), toasted and finely crumbed
- thin wedges of lemon or lime, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- This step isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if short of time. However, I’m not keen on onions and garlic that haven’t been thoroughly cooked. Yes, if the onions and garlic are left raw they will cook whilst the fish cakes are in the pan. But, chances are the flavour of both will taste slightly acerbic. Besides, I think pan-frying the tuna until beginning to turn golden gives an overall better taste. OK, put a heavy-based pan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6), add the onions with a glug of olive oil and leave them for about 10 minutes, stirring through occasionally. Reduce heat to No 1 and add a splash of water to prevent them from drying out. Continue to cook until nicely golden. Remove them and place in a suitable large bowl. Up the heat to No 3 and add the tuna to the same pan with a little more oil. Stir through until the flakes take on a slight golden colour. Push the tuna to one side, reduce heat to No 1 and add the garlic and allow to settle for 3 – 5 minutes. Any sign of the garlic scorching, take off heat. When cooked sprinkle over the cayenne pepper and take off heat. Allow to cool, then follow the instructions below.
- Don’t pan-fry the grated onion and garlic together as the garlic has turned my onions blue on several occasions. I’ve no idea why that should happen. If anyone knows let me know!
- If not using the above step: add the potatoes to a saucepan with just enough lightly salted water to cover. Put on electric heat No 4 and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2, add a lid, and simmer until cooked. Drain and allow to cool.
- Add all ingredients including the grated onion and crushed garlic (if not caramelising them – I don’t know how they will taste!), except the ground almonds or breadcrumbs, to a suitable large bowl. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Mine was the right consistency to start shaping into burgers, about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick and 5.1cm (2 inches) in diameter. I didn’t need to chill mine. The consistency should feel almost dry to the touch. If too wet either add more potato or a little plain flour. Second time around I used baby new potatoes called Nicola and didn’t achieve the right consistency. Third time I used white potatoes and they were perfect.
- Sprinkle either the ground almonds or breadcrumbs on a plate or suitable chopping board. Gently press the cakes into the crumbs on both sides.
- In the meantime, put a heavy-based pan on heat No 4 initially. When pan is hot, but not smoking, add a glug or 2 of rapeseed oil (it’s better to use on fairly high heat, apparently) and reduce heat to No 3. Add the fish cakes. If there’s any sign of scorching reduce heat even more. Carefully turn them over and cook for about 5 minutes each side.
- Serve with your favourite salad.
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