Fast food for dinner – Bill Granger’s prepare-ahead fish cakes
There’s nothing like challenging yourself to try two new 30-minute meals a week – and then blogging about it publicly – to encourage you to pick up a cookery book.
For those who are new to my blog, I always liked cooking before having my three kids, but in the last few years, I’d somehow got out of the habit. I lost my curiosity to try out new foods somewhere between baby number two and baby number three, submerged under laundry, exhaustion and the treadmill of childcare.
Yes, the food was usually tasty, but somehow, after having my third child, the meals I served up became monotonous. (You can read more here: Do you have mealtime déjà vu? If you’re bored of your food, here are eight ways to shake up your repertoire.)
But since challenging myself in January to try two new meals a week, I’ve been leafing through cookery books, sharing ideas with friends and even beating my target by cooking new meals three to four times a week.
And do you know what? I love it. Interestingly, it feels like a part of me that became abandoned in the upheaval of becoming a mum is re-emerging. And weirdly, it’s a part that I hadn’t even realised was buried.
It feels as though I’m strengthening an underused muscle – the more I try out new recipes, the more interested I become in sourcing delicious meals to cook.
How my kitchen is changing
I’m trying more varied dishes, have a batch of new cook books, have finally got round to buying a knife sharpener, and own a shiny new slow cooker (see Tested: Slow cooker beef and ale stew with dumplings).
My store cupboard also contains new-to-me ingredients like groundnut oil, spelt flour, giant couscous and miso paste. Lemons are now regulars on my weekly shopping list, and I’ve joined a lunch club at work, which I will tell you about in a blog post soon.
Plus I’m scouting around for cooking courses to help improve my skills and boost my kitchen confidence further.
Here’s an example of how things have changed: the other day I had 10 minutes of free time when the kids were quiet, happy and didn’t need my attention. (Cough, okay, yes, they were watching TV.)
Rather than checking my emails or Facebook, I found myself pulling out a cook book and leafing through it. Just for fun.
Recipe for fish cakes
As well as searching for 30-minute meals, I’m hunting for recipes that you can prepare at the weekend – or any day that you have more time – to serve up on those frantic weekday evenings when you need a 10-minute speedy supper.
These fish cakes by Australian chef Bill Granger are perfect. Okay, there’s a bit of prep work but once it comes to the actual cooking, they make the perfect healthy fast food, as they’re on your plate in just 6 minutes.
You can either freeze them or store them for a couple of days in a plastic container in the fridge. I lined them on greaseproof paper, so they didn’t stick together.
They’re made using tinned salmon, which makes them a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. And to reduce the fat content, I swapped half-fat crème fraîche for the full-fat version in the original recipe.
I also like these fish cakes because of their Asian influence, with flavours of ginger, chilli and coriander.
300g potatoes, peeled and chopped
415g tin red salmon
40g plain flour
4 spring onions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 large green chilli, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons half fat crème fraîche
160g fresh breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
oil for shallow-frying
Boil the potato for about 25 minutes until tender. Drain and roughly mash. Put in a bowl with the salmon, flour, eggs, spring onions, parsley, coriander, chilli, ginger, crème fraiche, breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Season. Mix well and shape into 12 fish cakes, then dust with a little flour.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the fish cakes in batches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden.