I have eaten lots of Caribbean Salt Fish Cakes but my friend Hyacinth, originally from Jamaica, definitely makes the very best Salt Fish Cakes in E17! They always ‘go like hot (fish) cakes’ when she brings them to church shared lunches. One thing that makes them particularly good are that they are crispy outside, soft inside and most importantly, unlike some I have tried, they are never ever greasy! I managed to get her recipe and I share it with you here…
The quantities given on the original recipe were approximate, so could be slightly increased to feed another person by adding a little more flour and another egg. The original recipe called for 8ozs flour and 2 eggs. I misread the original hand written recipe and I added finely chopped green pepper, but we liked the flavour and colour so I decided to keep it in. I also decided to slightly pre-cook and cool the onion and pepper, so it is properly cooked, as the eventual cooking time for the dish is not long. A squeeze of lemon juice, if you wish, helps enhance the flavour. Do not be tempted to add any more salt!
Hyacinth’s Salt Fish Cakes
(Serves 2-3 or 4+ as a starter)
5ozs/150g pack of boneless, skinless salt fish pieces (usually Pollack or Cod)
4ozs/125g Self Raising Flour
1 small onion, very finely chopped
½ green pepper, very finely chopped (optional)
1tbsp tomato purée
1tsp lemon juice (optional)
Oil for frying
1. At least 1hour before you are going to make the fish cakes, place the salt fish in a bowl and cover with cold water. Change the water immediately and cover fish again with water. Leave for about one hour, changing the water once more.
2. If you have a microwave oven then place the finely chopped onion and green pepper together in a small bowl and cook, covered, for 1minute. Alternatively, cook together in a small saucepan with a little water over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Do not let the onion and pepper start to colour. Put to one side and do not use until it has cooled – it can go in the fridge once it is no longer hot.
3. Drain the fish in a colander or sieve. As much water as possible should be squeezed out before the fish is used. Chop the fish as finely as possible, checking that there are no bones and removing them if necessary.
4. Break the egg into a large bowl and whip. Mix in the flour. Stir in the fish, tomato purée, onion, pepper, plus lemon juice if using, until well mixed. Draw the mixture together into a ball. If it is a little sticky then add some more flour if needed.
5. Form the mixture into 8 or 9 equal sized flattened cakes: 2 or 3 per person – depends on how many people you are feeding. If serving as a starter then divide mixture into smaller cakes.
6. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes or until ready to cook.
7. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes very gently until golden brown on both sides. Each cake will stick slightly but once it is set it can be turned easily. Allow the cakes to seal on one side before you turn them to avoid them breaking up. Keep warm under a gentle grill until needed.