Luxury smoked haddock fishcakes with potato in crispy breadcrumbs, served with the best homemade tartare sauce with gherkins and capers.
Sniffing out Smoked Fishcakes with Captain Haddock
Tintin may still make the odd appearance in French shop windows following Spielberg’s film, but I’m frankly fascinated by Captain Haddock’s nose. It reminds me of a one-liner by Steve Martin in the film, Roxanne (based on the French story of Cyrano de Bergérac by Rostand) referring to ze nose:
“Do you have a license for that?”
My handsome French teacher at school back in the 80s was also embellished with a nose – or nez, or even pif to be familiar – that was so spectacular that a group of us in class wrote a piece entitled, “Why do Frenchmen have big noses?” We could not have been serious. I was eventually punished for that one when I broke my nose 4 years ago, falling with my complete weight on the hooter. Now I’m constantly reminded of my lesson in this freezing weather when my nose lights up à la Rudolf with its license to glow in the cold.
Do you remember Gérard Depardieu’s legendary nose in Cyrano de Bergerac? As Depardieu’s name suggests, he is a dieu on stage. I saw him larger than life in person recently at the première in Paris of his new Telefilm, Rasputin (in French and Russian). Hang on to your seats, folks. This film is spine-tingling. I can’t think of anyone who could play the part of Rasputin as well as Gérard. You can smell it will be a hit.
I wonder if Captain Archibald Haddock could sniff out these Scottish fishcakes from The Black Island? Although it’s more of a weekday family supper, serving mini portions as a Scottish starter has been a surprising hit with French friends at weekends.
Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Breadcrumbs
Use any smoked fish or a combination of smoked and plain fish for these fishcakes. I personally love making it all with smoked haddock. It took me a while to get the tongue around the French word for haddock: églefin; but did you know that églefin fumé can result in funny looks at the poissonerie? I stand corrected as they say that smoked haddock is just known as…
‘Haddock’ (with a French accent – don’t pronounce the ‘H’)
What Is Best Served with Fishcakes?
I love the smokiness of the fishcakes but what really makes it? Being served with simple, homemade tartare sauce. Making your own fishcakes is fabulous but with your own tartare sauce made from scratch, it takes them to another level and nothing like the tartare sauce you buy ready-made in jars. See the recipe below.
What’s more, it’s also another handy recipe to use up your egg yolks for making macarons!
How to Make Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Tartare Sauce
1. Poach the smoked haddock in milk (just enough to cover up to 1/3 of the fish) with the bay leaves for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Strain, skin and flake the fish to ensure there are no bones.
2. Mash the potatoes, mixing in the mustard, lemon zest, capers and herbs. Season well then add the flaked fish.
3. Divide the fish mixture into small patty cakes (about 2.5 cm thick for starter/hors d’oeuvres size). Form into a shape then roll into the flour. How do you keep the fishcakes from falling apart? The wet ingredients make the fishcakes easy to shape and won’t fall apart. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, dip the patties into it, then cover in the breadcrumbs (or panko).
4. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge until needed – this is when I make the tartare sauce. You could freeze the fishcakes at this point, placing them openly on a baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
5. Fry in batches in hot olive oil for 5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Keep them warm until serving with the tartare sauce and squeeze on the remaining lemon when ready to serve.
I wonder how on earth the Tartare sauce formed the map of Corsica? It wasn’t the Black Island but the ‘Island of Beauty’, as my Corsican husband calls it.
Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Tartare Sauce
Smoked Haddock Fishcakes
- 300 g (11oz) smoked haddock or other smoked fish
- 2 bay leaves
- 500 g (18oz) floury potatoes cooked
- 1 lemon (unwaxed) zest only (save the juice for sauce & serving)
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp chives finely chopped
- 1 tbsp mustard (I use Dijon)
- 1 tbsp capers chopped
- 1 organic egg
- 2 tbsp oat flour (or plain all-purpose flour) to shape
- 100 g (3.5oz) breadcrumbs or panko
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel salt
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 200 ml (7fl oz) olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp gherkins finely chopped
- 1 tbsp capers chopped
- 1 tbsp dill (or chives) chopped
- 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- Poach the fish in milk (just enough to cover up to 1/3 of the fish) with the bay leaves for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain, skin and flake the fish to ensure there are no bones.
- Mash the potatoes, mixing in the mustard, lemon zest, capers and herbs. Season then add the flaked fish.
- Divide the fish mixture into small patty cakes (about 2.5 cm thick for starter/hors d’oeuvres size). Form into a shape then roll into the flour. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, dip the patties into it, then cover in the breadcrumbs or panko.
- Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge until needed – this is when I make the tartare sauce. You could freeze the fishcakes at this point, placing them openly on a baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Fry in batches in hot olive oil for 5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Keep them warm until serving with the tartare sauce.
- Whisk the egg yolks, salt and mustard with a hand whisk in a medium bowl. Gradually add the olive oil, dribbling it finely and regularly, whisking all the time. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the white wine vinegar (use a good quality one.)Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.