What is it about a fried fish cake? Is it the crunchy texture of the outside, or the mellow fishy herby softness of the inside, or a combination of the two? I don’t know, but what I do know is that some fish cakes are good, some are average and some transcend the mundane world to flit briefly across the higher echelons of life and leave you sated, and yet eager for more.
The best of the best for me is the Crab Cake, no potatoes here, it’s crab meat, set with herbs and butter and then bread crumbed, chilled and later fried, in butter, and though they are decadent they are also well worth the extra expense in time and money to make.
Makes 6 nice sized crab cakes
250g cooked white crab meat
250g brown crab meat
175g butter + more for frying
A few baby capers
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A sprig of parsley chopped
A sprig of thyme chopped
A little lemon zest and a good squeeze of the juice
A dash of tobacco sauce
Melt the 175g of butter in a large pan and sweat the shallot, thyme and garlic for a minute or two. Add the thyme and then stir in the brown meat, allow to cook for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat and add the white meat, parsley, tobacco, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and the capers, stir well and then use an oiled pastry cutter as a mould to form the cakes and then transfer them onto a lightly oiled non stick tray. Chill them in the fridge until well set and easy to handle. I sometimes give them half an hour in the freezer to help them be properly firm and easy to handle.
Take care when pressing into the ring to make sure you have even amounts for each moulding, and that they are pressed together well. If you do not take some time to properly press them down into the mould before carefully removing the ring and starting on the next one, they will be very difficult to handle and ultimately fall apart during cooking.
To coat :
2 eggs, a dash of water
200g fine breadcrumbs
A handful of plain seasoned flour
Once very well chilled, simply dust them well with flower and immerse in egg wash – beaten egg diluted with a splash of water and then drain them lightly before placing. Turn them in breadcrumbs to coat. They need a good coating on them to trap the moisture and butter inside when frying later.
Once coated return them to the fridge to rest.
To cook :
50g vegetable oil
A frying pan you trust
An oven pre heated to 180 C
In a frying pan over a moderate heat allow the butter and oil to get hot, but not start to smoke.
Place 3 of the crab cakes in the pan and fry on both sides until golden, try not to move them around too much, and spoon some oil and butter over them and up the sides. Once golden on both sides, place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining thee – you may need a little extra butter and oil.
Once all are golden, pop them in the hot oven for around 8 mins, wating them carefully, if they start puffing up, take them out and allow them to rest. For a minute or two.
Serve them up with peas, new potatoes and perhaps a tartar sauce.