Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fish Cakes a la Bittman

My friend Kate sent me a recipe a few weeks ago for Broiled Fish Cakes with Ginger and Cilantro, with a glowing recommendation. Apparently her dad had written about them on his blog, and Kate made them and thought they were swell. With a double Bittman two thumbs up, I figured this was something I had to try.

I'd never made fish cakes, but had recently enjoyed some very delicious ones at Arbutus in London, made with mackerel and squid (they called it a burger, but it was essentially a fish cake with a more hip name). This recipe suggested using cod or another mild, delicate white fish, and I went with tilapia. As Mark writes, a mild fish lets you go crazy with the seasonings. In this case, he uses ginger, cilantro and hot pepper, which results in a nice and "zingy" burger that needs only a squirt of lime juice. It's a perfectly tasty preparation that would also probably work with mint and oregano, and maybe a little feta-cucumber mixture on top; or basil and parsley, with a chopped tomato salad on the side. The possibilities are, um... endless!

Anyway. The important thing to note when preparing this dish is to really mash the potatoes. They're the binder--there's not much else holding the fish together--so a starchy mash is key. I left my potatoes a little lumpy, and some of the cakes fell apart (which made them no less delicious, just a little messy). Mark likes to broil his fish cakes instead of frying them (less mess! my dad will love this recipe!) which gives you the added bonus of less fat.

This recipe is definitely going into the regular rotation. Thank you Bittmans!--S

Broiled Fish Cakes With Ginger and Cilantro

Yield 4 servings

1 baking potato weighing about 1/2 lb.
Salt to taste
1 1/2 lbs. fillet of cod or other mild, delicate white fish
1 T peeled and minced ginger
1/2 c minced cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 fresh or dried hot red chile, minced, or 1/4 t cayenne, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T peanut or other oil [I used grapeseed]
Lime wedges

1. Boil potato in salted water to cover until it is tender but not mushy, 30 to 40 min.
2. Meanwhile, place the fish in a skillet that can later be covered. Add water to cover, salt the water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, turn off heat, and set a timer for 10 min. After that time, use a slotted spoon to remove the fish to a bowl.
3. When potato is done, peel it and mash it with the fish. Add the seasonings along with some salt and pepper, and work the mixture with your hands until it is well blended. Shape into 8 equal burger-shaped patties.
4. Preheat the broiler, and set the rack about 4 in. from heat source. Brush the patties on both sides with oil, then place on a non-stick baking sheet. Broil carefully, until nicely browned on top, then turn and brown on the other side. Sprinkle with more cilantro, and serve hot, with lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy of Bitten


Laura said...

I'm making me some fish cakes a la bittman this week!!! mmmm!!!!

Kate said...

I love that you mentioned the R-Man's preference for neat things. What are splatter screens for?!