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Fishcakes with Parsley Sauce

by Si King & Dave Myers from The Hairy Bikers: British Classics (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

This recipe might look a bit long but please don’t be put off. All the steps are simple, the end result is perfect and we knew we couldn’t possibly have a book on British classics without a great fishcake. We like plenty of fish in our fishcakes and using three different types really is worth it – the salmon adds a touch of luxury and a different texture to the white fish, while the smoked haddock brings a special flavour. Parsley sauce is an essential accompaniment we reckon, and it’s a handy recipe to know, as it goes with many types of fish.

Prep time approximately 30 mins

Cooking time approximately 30 mins


600g potatoes preferably Maris Pipers, peeled and cut into chunks

250g cod fillet thick, unskinned (Nigel used hake)

250g salmon fillet thick, unskinned

100g smoked haddock fillet unskinned

500ml whole milk (you can use semi-skimmed if necessary)

1 bay leaf

½ lemon zest, grated

6 spring onions trimmed and finely sliced

25g plain flour for dusting

2 eggs

100g breadcrumbs fresh white (you can use dried if necessary)

75ml vegetable oil

lemon wedges for serving

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Parsley Sauce

25g butter

25g plain flour

reserved milk from cooking the fish

25g curly leaf parsley finely chopped (or flat leaf if necessary)


1. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes and mash until smooth, then season well. Spread the mash out on a cold plate and leave to cool.

2. Place the fish in a large saucepan, with the thicker fillets at the bottom of the pan. Pour the milk into the pan, add the bay leaf and season with a little salt and some pepper.

3. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately, take the pan off the heat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes. This will finish cooking the fish and infuse the milk with flavour.

4. Remove the fish from the milk and transfer the fillets to a plate. Set the milk aside to make the parsley sauce. Break the fish into large chunks, discarding the skin as you go. Leave the fish to cool completely.

5. Place the cooled mash in a large bowl and stir in the lemon zest and spring onions.

6. Tip the cooled fish into the mash and use a wooden spoon to mix it into the mash, without breaking up the fish too much.

7. Divide the mixture into 6 balls. Flatten each ball until it is about 3cm thick and place the flattened balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put the tray in the freezer for about 20 minutes or in the fridge for 45 minutes to firm up the fishcakes.

8. To coat the fishcakes, sprinkle the flour for dusting over a plate. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and spread half the breadcrumbs over a large plate.

9. Dip a fishcake into the flour, coating it well on all sides. Gently pat off any excess flour, then dip the fishcake into the egg, coating it on all sides.

10. Allow any excess egg to drip off of the fishcake and then place it in the breadcrumbs. Turn the fishcake in the crumbs and press them firmly and evenly on to all the sides.

11. Place the fishcake on a tray lined with baking paper and repeat until you’ve coated all the fishcakes, replacing the used crumbs with the reserved breadcrumbs for the final 3.

12. You can then leave the fishcakes in the fridge until you’re ready to cook, but use them within 24 hours.

13. To cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

14. Place 3 of the fishcakes in the pan and fry them over a medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side. Put them on a baking tray while you fry the rest, adding a little more oil to the pan if necessary.

15. Place the tray of fishcakes in the oven for 8–10 minutes to finish cooking. They should be hot throughout.

16. While the fishcakes are in the oven, make the parsley sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan.

17. Gradually add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Slowly add the reserved milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to get rid of any lumps.

18. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.

19. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the fishcakes with the parsley sauce and some lemon wedges for squeezing.

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