A new way to make fishcakes that is quick, easy and delicious
Lilly Higgins: This dish is a simple way to introduce more fish into your family’s meals
Lilly Higgins’s tuna fishcakes
I love a good store cupboard dinner. At the end of a busy week, when it seems like there is an echo coming from the fridge, I always check the back of the cupboard. There I usually discover my saving grace – tinned tuna.
I’m always trying to introduce more fish into my family’s meals and tinned tuna is a really convenient way to do that. One of my favourite Sunday night suppers is warm toasted pita breads stuffed with salad leaves and tuna. Niçoise salad is another quick dinner fix. While the eggs are boiling, I mix some Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and lemon juice together for a dressing and serve it with the eggs, salad leaves, tinned tuna and olives. It’s fast food that tastes delicious and will leave you feeling nourished.
For years I saw fishcakes as a way to use up leftover mashed potato. But now that my eldest son is eight, there is never any leftover potato. His appetite has increased so massively in the past few months that I can’t seem to cook fast enough. So I have yet another reason for needing a quick and easy dinner.
In 2018, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey and Co, the Middle Eastern restaurants in London, released a new book, At Home, that has all of the recipes that they cook in their own kitchen, for one another. It’s practical home cooking for lovers of really great food. I’ve cooked many dishes from it since its release, but one I keep returning to is their tinned tuna fish cakes. They adapted the original recipe from one by Israeli food writer Sherry Ansky. Their recipe uses harissa paste for a spicy kick, along with capers and parsley. I’ve kept it simpler with some wholegrain mustard and dill.
But it’s the method that intrigues me and that leads to what I think is the perfect fish cake. It involves boiling a whole potato and onion in a little pan then dicing them both up. The frying method too is unusual, yet leads to a most delicious mouthful of battered fishcake. Simply toss each little cake in flour then dip in egg and pop straight into hot oil.
Use a really good quality tuna brand such as Shines wild Irish tuna, or use tinned salmon as an alternative. I love that there is grated carrot in this recipe, its melts into the tuna mix entirely while helping to keep each little cake together. These are lovely in lunchboxes too.
1 large potato, about 180g
1 small onion, about 100g
1 carrot, 140g, peeled and grated
1 tin tuna in oil, 160g, drained
1 tbsp dried or fresh dill
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
½ tsp salt
70g flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, whisked
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 Place the potato and onion, both whole and unpeeled, into a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, until both are just done. Drain and leave both to cool a little. This can be done ahead of time. Peel the onion and dice both finely once cool enough to handle.
2 Mix the potato, onion, carrot, tuna, dill, mustard and salt together in a bowl till combined well. Shape into small little cakes, about 50g each. If they are too soft, place in the fridge for 20 minutes, but if they are firm then you can cook them right away.
3 Heat about 2cm deep of oil in a wide frying pan.
4 Place the flour and egg in separate bowls. Toss each cake into the flour then dip into the egg and then fry for two minutes each side till golden. Serve hot.