Fish cakes

A bit of leftover fish goes a long way in these cakes of fish and celery root. I had to quickly bake two walleyes to rescue fish protein from unwanted fermentation – and made very good cakes the next day…

It is an excellent solution for those of us who do not respond enthusiastically to fish bones in our meal. The price, however, is not negligible – someone must pre-process the stuff by picking out all the bones before hand… Do you know one of those souls..?

If you start with the per-cooked fish, you may consider re-heating it (poaching in little water) or otherwise make sure it is soft and ready for de-boning).

You can do a lot of preparations ahead of the actual serving time (see point 15 below).

For 4 people (8 fishcakes)

  • 300-350 g of pre-cooked fish. I had two small fish to start with; I de-boned them and produced 12 not so small cakes, so…)
  • Small onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 small rib of celery (chopped finely)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 500g  Celeriac (it means lots, at least as much as the extracted fish matter)
  • 500 ml milk
  • Salt
  • Chopped parsley
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 beaten egg for panierowanie
  • Bread crumbs (1 cup or more)
  • Clarified butter of oil for frying
  1.  Cook onion and celery in butter and some salt over low heat until soft but not browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. Ruthlessly peel a celery root. Take a knife and cut away all the dirty parts, right down to the flesh.
  3. Rinse, cut into big chunks and put into a pan.
  4. Top with milk to cover (perhaps two cups) and add salt. Simmer until tender, about a quarter hour or a little more. Watch carefully; this can and will boil over if your attention wanders.
  5. Remove the celery root — do not throw away that milk yet, you may choose to make some sauce with it — and mash it with a fork — you want a few small chunks to remain, but some of it should be almost pureed.
  6. If your fish is raw, put it (defrosted, or nearly, if it’s from the freezer) into the milk, bring it to the boil, let it simmer for a minute, then turn off the heat. Otherwise move to step 8
  7. Cover the pan and let it sit for five or six minutes. Remove the fish and let it cool down slightly (must be manageable in hands)
  8. Make sure the fish carried none of the native bones – pick out every little bone you can see!
  9. Put the resulting fish matter into a big bowl with the cooked onion.
  10. Flake/mash with a fork or your fingers.
  11. Add about as much mashed celery root as you have fish (eyeballed by volume) and season well with salt, pepper and a lot of chopped parsley.
  12. It should no longer be hot, so you can add eggs, then enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture loosely together; it will still feel moist.
  13. Mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning.
  14. Let the mixture sit for five or ten minutes, then shape it into eight one-inch-thick cakes.
  15. Dip each one in beaten egg then in more crumbs, patting gently to make sure everything adheres. At this point they can be refrigerated until dinner time.
  16. Fry them golden brown in an eighth inch of (ideally) clarified butter or neutral oil, over quite low heat.

If you hadn’t thrown away that milk you could use it to make a sauce. If you did, you may find that anything more than a squeeze of lemon will interfere with the flavour and texture of the celery root.

Serve with potatoes, mashed or fried, and, perhaps, with the sorrel sauce.

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