For my upcoming baby & toddler course at River Cottage I'll be teaching that old staple - fishcakes. Many children (and many parents for that matter!) find fish unpalatable, or even downright scary. Some parents were never shown how to cook fish and retain a fear of the unknown that they unwittingly (and unwillingly) pass on to their children. So it is my absolute pleasure to be able to show anyone how simple it is to bake a fillet of fish and flake it for use in a fish pie or fish cakes.
We also learn how to add a lovely crisp breadcrumb coating (using spelt flour or gluten free) that can transform strips of raw fish into delectable fish fingers, or fish cakes into crispy delights.
The best bit? You can use sustainable, seasonal fish, leave out the salt for little ones and have complete control over what goes into your food.
Whilst I'm quite happy to serve up those scrumptious potato fishcakes for Nick and Fin - I got to thinking about a grain free & potato free version that I might like to eat myself. As we often eat mashed celeriac in place of potatoes, and anything with a fennelly, aniseedy flavour loves fish - it seemed right that I should try some with celeriac.
I used ground almonds to absorb moisture from the celeriac and found that the finished cake had a very pleasingly crisp exterior that gave way to a soft, moist, light interior. For anyone following SCD or GAPS, these are a welcome reminder of comfort foods you knew and loved. I'd actually rather have a few of these than a potato laden version - but don't tell any of my Irish family about that or they'll never speak to me again for being unpatriotic!
I used tinned wild salmon for these (bones and all - a very good source of calcium for the dairy free), but you could use whatever fresh fish is sustainable in your part of the world. In the UK at this time of year it's coley, pollock, mackerel & crab - or some expensive fish such as brill and turbot that would be a crime to mash up in a fishcake!
They would also be fantastic spiced up with some fresh chili, garlic and chopped coriander leaf - eaten dipped in some cool yogurt.
Celeriac & Salmon Fishcakes
(makes about 14 - enough for 3 hungry or 4 less so)
30g unsalted organic butter (coconut oil/ghee/goosefat/shmaltz etc for dairy free)
1 large stick of celery finely diced(or 1/2 stick celery and 1/2 a red onion)
1/2 large celeriac (350g peeled weight)
85g ground almonds (almond flour)
1 large free range egg
squeeze fresh lemon juice
2 pinches sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp grated unwaxed lemon zest
2 x 213g tins wild red salmon or 400g of baked and flaked sustainable fish
Melt butter (or coconut oil etc) in a small saucepan and saute the diced celery (or celery and onion) for 10 minutes, until it looks translucent. set aside to cool.
While celery cooks, chop celeriac into inch (2.5cm) dice and steam until tender. Don't boil or it will be waterlogged. set aside to cool until lukewarm.
Place cooled celeriac in a food processor bowl with ground almonds, egg, salt, lemon zest and a good few twists of black pepper. Process until smoothish. Leave out salt for any child under two as there is salt in the tinned fish - for a baby of under a year use fresh fish and leave out salt.
Scrape into a mixing bowl, add cooked celery and drained or baked & flaked fish. Mash everything with a fork until it comes together. If it looks too wet at this stage then add some more ground almonds. It should just hold together enough for you to make cakes out of - not as stiff as a potato mixture. If you leave it to sit for half an hour it will be easier to work as the almond will have absorbed more moisture from the mix.
Scoop smallish satsuma lumps out of the bowl with clean hands, press into a ball using your cupped hands and flatten slightly to make a cake. set on a plate while you make the rest. You can refridgerate these for up to 24 hours now, or freeze for later (defrost before cooking - or bake from frozen).
When you're ready to eat, heat up some goosefat/coconut oil/ghee/shmaltz/lard in a heavy bottomed frying pan (skillet) and fry each side for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat - or until a deep golden brown crust forms.
Serve with home made tartar sauce, or cool yogurt and a big helping of steamed, buttered veg.