A Cornish girl's food adventures

Tag: fish

Summer squash pancakes

Summer squash pancakes

How does this look for a summer brunch!? Golden fluffy pancakes that will help you on your way to your five-a-day? Yes please! I’m a sucker for anything that involves dill so these are a winner for me. They make a pretty hearty breakfast but […]

Baked smoked salmon parcels

Baked smoked salmon parcels

I’m not really a fan of smoked salmon. I’m not really a fan of anything smoked (except maybe chili) and I’ve made these a couple of times but I think that the salmon I used the first time I made them was a little milder […]

Dinky crab & chili pasties

Dinky crab & chili pasties

Crab was a particular speciality where we were living in the USA. Hauled out of the Chesapeake and boiled up with Old Bay seasoning or turned into delicious crab cakes.
It’s a delicacy back home in Cornwall too, freshly picked and eaten in sandwiches. I’ve gone super-Cornish with this recipe, which I made for St Piran’s day, and wrapped up the delicious sweet white crab meat into little pasties using a wonderful all butter pastry.
Using strong flour in the pastry dough makes it much stretchier and easier to work with when you’re shaping your pasties.

Ingredients
225g strong white flour
100g butter
85ml (ish) cold water
120g white crab meat (tinned works fine)
1 shallot
1 small red chili
small bunch of fresh coriander
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper

To make the pastry sift the flour and gently rub the cold butter into it until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture. Slowly add enough water to bring this all together to form a ball of dough. You can do all this in a food processor if you prefer. It’s a good idea at this point to wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge whilst you prep the filling. Pre-heat the oven now to 200°c.
Thinly slice the shallot and finely chop the chili. Combine this with the crab meat, black pepper and the lemon zest. Roughly chop the coriander and stir this through the mixture.
Unwrap the dough and gently roll it out to about 3-4mm. Using a small plate or saucer as a guide cut out 4 discs from the dough, re-rolling as necessary. Divide the filling evenly between the pastry discs, heaping it in the centre. Brush the edge of the dough with beaten egg, fold the pastry over the filling and firmly press down the edges.
Now time to crimp! Not nearly as hard to do as it is to describe I promise. Place your index finger on the edge of the pastry at one end of the pasty. Now take the pastry just in front of it and pull it over your finger. Pull out your finger and repeat the process all around the edge and then simply tuck in the end. If that all sounds a bit too challenging them simply press around the edge with a fork.
Cut a couple of steam holes in the top of each pasty and brush with egg wash. Arrange on a greased baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes until they’re beautifully golden. Enjoy hot or cold!

Spicy prawns and parmesan polenta

Spicy prawns and parmesan polenta

Just because a meal is quick and easy doesn’t mean that it can’t be packed with flavour. Soft, creamy cheesy polenta and sweet plump prawns in a rich smoky tomato sauce. What could be better on a chilly evening? I never tried shrimp and grits […]

Apple and horseradish fishcakes

It might be my Cornish bias but I really think that when it comes to fish its hard to beat really fresh mackerel. In the UK it’s readily available and generally reasonably priced plus it’s really good for you. The oily ‘meatiness’ of mackerel makes […]

Harissa, apricot and pistachio mackerel fishcakes

Harissa, apricot and pistachio mackerel fishcakes

Harissa fishcakes

Spicy fishcakes with sweet apricots coated in fragrant pistachios. Good fresh mackerel has very rich, almost creamy, meaty flesh and it pairs well with slightly tart fruit (and I don’t just mean a quick squeeze of lemon juice). I once had mackerel fillets with rhubarb, which was delicious, even if it does sound like something a pregnant woman would be craving. I’ve used dried apricots in these, obviously to help keep the mixture dry, but also because I think they have the right balance of tart and sweet. Trust me, it works.

Adding pistachios to the breadcrumbs for coating adds a tiny touch more sweetness and also a really nice crunch (don’t grind them too finely).
I’ve been a big fan of harissa since I travelled to Tunisia (blimey, about 15 years ago now I think about it!) as it brings more than just heat to a dish. Although mackerel can take the heat it’s nice to add a bit more depth than just a chili smack in the mouth.

It’s a good idea to keep the mash for fishcakes as dry as possible so I use mayonnaise rather than milk to provide a little moisture and flavour.

spicy mackerel fishcakes

Makes 6-8
600g potatoes
350g cooked skinless mackerel fillets
75g dried apricots
2-3 tbsp harissa (depending on how spicy you like things)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 onion
salt and pepper
1 egg (beaten)
3 tbsp flour
6-8 tbsp panko bread crumbs
40g pistachios (ground in a food processor)
oil for frying

Bring a large pan of water to boil and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Add them to the pan and boil them until they are tender but not breaking up, about 10 minutes. Drain them and then return them to the hot pan to allow them to dry out a little. Add the mayonnaise, harissa and the salt and pepper and mash them with a fork until they’re smooth and fluffy. Leave the potato to cool.

Harissa fishcakes
Finely dice the onion and fry it in a little oil or butter until it is tender and just starting to brown.
Finely chop the apricots and mix these and the onion into the potato. Flake the cooked mackerel, leaving it quite chunky and fold this into the cooled potato mixture.
Use 3 shallow dishes and add the flour to one, the beaten egg to another and the breadcrumbs and pistachios to another.
Divide and shape the fishcake mixture into even sized patties. Coat each one in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs and then place them on a baking sheet and chill them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the fishcakes over a moderate heat for a few minutes on each side, until they are crisp and golden and warmed through to the centre.

I submitted this recipe to one of The Guardians weekly reader recipe swaps (and it won) and they suggested serving them with a sauce made of tahini, mayo, harissa and lemon juice.

Harissa fishcakes