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1 kg haddock fillets , from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, skin on, scaled and pinboned
140 ml milk
2 bay leaves
1 kg potatoes , peeled and diced
1 big bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley , finely chopped
1 handful fresh mint , finely chopped
2 lemons , zest of
2 limes , zest of
1 teaspoon fennel seeds , bashed
2 large free-range eggs
1 fresh red chilli , finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
115 g plain flour
sunflower oil , for deep-frying
lemons , to serve
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I learnt this recipe from my friend Santos, who comes from Brazil where they make little fritters of this recipe and deep-fry them – more like glorified canapés than fishcakes really. I’ve adapted his recipe slightly to make actual fishcakes – probably the nicest I’ve tasted!
In Brazil they’re called ‘bolinho de bacalau’ and are made with salt cod, which is a wonderful fish to use if you can get hold of it. However, for this recipe I’ve simply used flaked white fish.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Place the haddock in a deep baking tray with the milk and bay leaves, then cover the tray with foil and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 15 minutes, until soft. Drain them in a colander to get rid of any excess water, then return to the pan on a low heat and mash.
Flake the cooked fish into a large bowl, picking out any bones and removing the skin. Add the mashed potato, parsley, mint, lemon and lime zest, fennels seeds, eggs and chilli and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well, taste and add more salt if necessary.
Flour your work surface, then take 1 tablespoon of the mix in your hands with a little flour and pat it into a flattened circle, rolling it in the flour. Rough and ready is good, so don’t worry about having them all exactly the same!
Pour enough oil into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan to fill the pan about a third of the way up. Heat over a medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 185°C/360°F. (If you don’t have a thermometer, heat the oil until a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.) Deep-fry the fishcakes for about 5 minutes until brown and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with sea salt and serve on a large plate with lots of lemon halves.