Salmon Fishcakes with Cucumber and Dill Sauce

Back in fashion again after years in the wilderness, fishcakes can be found in the classiest restaurants – but taste even better if you make them yourself. This recipe combines red salmon with creamy mashed potato in a crisp coating, with a light summery sauce.

Makes 12 (serves 3-4)

This recipe is taken from The Delia Collection: Fish. It has also appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (May 1996).

Salmon Fishcakes with Cucumber and Dill Sauce
For the fishcakes:
 1 x 418 g tin red salmon
 10 oz (275 g) Desirée or King Edward potatoes (weighed before peeling), peeled and cut into large chunks
 2 level tablespoons mayonnaise (see Related Recipe below)
 2 heaped tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
 2 heaped tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
 6 cornichons (pickled gherkins), drained and chopped
 2 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped small
 1 level dessertspoon anchovy paste or 4 anchovies, mashed up
 2 tablespoons lemon juice
 ¼ level teaspoon powdered mace
 ¼ level teaspoon cayenne pepper
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the coating and frying:
 1 large egg, beaten
 3 oz (75 g) matzo meal or fresh white breadcrumbs
 2 tablespoons groundnut or grapeseed oil
 ½ oz (10 g) butter
For the cucumber and dill sauce:
 1 lb (450 g) cucumber
 1 level tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
 1 oz (25 g) butter
 2½ fl oz (65 ml) crème fraîche
 1 dessertspoon lemon juice
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
To garnish:
 sprigs of dill
 lemon wedges


First of all boil the potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until they are absolutely tender when tested with a skewer. (Be careful, though – if they are not tender you will get lumps.) Then drain the potatoes and mash them to a purée with the mayonnaise using an electric hand whisk, then add some seasoning.

Now, in a large mixing bowl simply combine all the ingredients for the fishcakes together. Mix really thoroughly, then taste and season again if it needs it. After that, cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator, giving it about 2 hours to chill and become firm.

To make the sauce: first pare off the peel of the cucumber with a potato peeler, as thinly as possible as the green bit just beneath the surface of the peel is important for the colour of the sauce. Then cut the cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds, using a teaspoon to scoop them out. Now cut the cucumber into ¼ inch (5 mm) dice.

Next, heat the butter in a smallish pan over a very low heat, add the diced cucumber and some salt and toss it around in the butter. Then put a lid on and, keeping the heat as low as possible, let the cucumber sweat gently for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time to make sure none of it catches on the base. As soon as the pieces of cucumber are just tender (but still retaining some bite), stir in the crème fraîche, dill and a little lemon juice. Season with more salt if it needs it and some freshly milled black pepper, then warm through gently.

Now tip half the sauce into a liquidiser or food processor, whiz until it's smooth, then mix together with the rest of the sauce and set aside. When you are ready to cook the fishcakes, lightly flour a working surface, then turn the fish mixture on to it and, using your hands, pat and shape it into a long roll, 2-2½ inches (5-6 cm) in diameter. 

Now cut the roll into 12 round fishcakes – pat each one into a neat, flat shape and then dip them one by one first into beaten egg and then into breadcrumbs, making sure they get a nice even coating all round.

Now, in a large frying pan heat the oil and butter over a high heat, and when it is really hot, add half the fishcakes to the pan then turn the heat down to medium and give them 4 minutes shallow frying on each side. Then repeat with the other half, draining them on crumpled greaseproof paper. 

Serve immediately on hot plates with the warm cucumber and dill sauce, a sprig of dill and lemon wedges.

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