The philosophers amongst us may start to waffle on about the unattainability of perfection. They may rub their chins (in a sage-like fashion) and let us know that it is what is removed and what is tolerated that brings us close to attaining this Nirvana. Yet, when I decided to wrap a simple fish cake in smoked salmon, I came as they say, pretty damn close.
When I was younger, I did a lot of fishing. There is something wonderful about standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic and anticipating a catch. The time spent anticipating gave plenty of opportunity for philosophical thought too. It also gave time to pick and chew a bit of samphire. It is a salty plant that grows in some abundance on Ireland’s West coast.
It’s an unusual ingredient. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting it, it’s like eating a little bit of the sea (without all those pieces of plastic). It added a lovely fresh, philosophical note to the dish.
- 200 gms fresh salmon
- 200 gms cod
- A few slices of smoked salmon
- A handful of samphire
- A small amount of chopped chives
- A half teaspoon of black pepper
- A half teaspoon of dried seaweed
- An egg
- A handful of breadcrumbs
You will need a pastry ring or the patience of Job to form the cakes. I recommend the pastry ring.
As with so many of my recipes, this is pretty straightforward. Firstly, sharpen a good knife and skin the fish.
Side note on salmon: There is plenty of poor quality farmed Atlantic salmon available. To avoid it, I buy organic. We are lucky in Ireland as we have some great organic salmon producers. For these cakes, I also chose the tail. It gets more exercise than other parts of the fish and is tastier as a result.
Slice the raw fish into small pieces. Do likewise with the samphire and chives.
Place the fish, breadcrumbs, samphire, chives, seaweed and pepper in a bowl. Break in the egg. Stir to combine.
Line the pastry cutter with smoked salmon, allowing for overlap. Fill the parcel, overlap and turn it over before removing the ring.
Repeat the process until you run out of smoked salmon or filling.
Place the parcels in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 20 minutes. Let them rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
The flavours brought me right back to the times in my youth, with ozone in the air and sea salt on my lips, fishing on the rocky Galway shore. I need to get the rods out of the attic. They were truly perfect days.
The parcels look great, they taste better and I do think that they move us just one step closer to perfection.