I have been somewhat barmy about any sort of fishcake ever since I travelled on my OE to North America and had my first crab cake experience. I liken fishcakes to the delights of eating a well-made fish pie. However, a fish-cake offers up an extraordinarily simple texture and a wickedly soft inside. Add any silky mayo-style sauce on the side, and watch people’s eyes roll back in their heads after the first mouthful. This recipe is from my latest book, Depot: Biography of a Restaurant, and works well with any smoked white fish (think warehou, trevally etc).
Step 1. Egg and Gherkin Mayo
Stir the mayonnaise, egg, gherkin, parsley and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then refrigerate until required.
Step 2. Smoked Kahawai Cakes
Place a skillet or sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add the oil followed by the onion, celery, and green capsicum. Sweat for 20 minutes without colouring until cooked through.
Place the diced potato in a suitable-sized saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring up to the boil on high heat and cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. When just soft but not falling apart, remove from the heat, strain and spread on a tray to cool.
Take a medium to large bowl. Pick through the smoked kahawai with your hands, loosely breaking up the fish and removing any bones. Add the cooked sweated vegetables and the potato. Now add the parsley, chives, mayo, and lemon zest and juice. With clean hands, blend the ingredients together until combined. The potato will break up a bit and help bind the cakes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Put the panko or breadcrumbs in another bowl. Mould the smoked fish mixture into 12 even-sized cakes, and liberally crumb.
Refrigerate until required.
Step 3. To Cook and Serve
Heat your barbecue flat-top or skillet to medium-low heat. Once hot, brush with a liberal amount of oil. Cook the smoked fish cakes until golden on either side and hot through the centre.
To serve, place two cakes on each plate. Add a dollop of the egg and gherkin mayo, drizzle over and around with the Lemon & Fennel oil. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.
Photography by Kieran Scott