The Crooked Billet

Smoked Trout & Eel Cakes

Smoked Trout & Eel Cakes

Salmon & trout – sea trout, rainbow & the elusive brown trout are at their beautiful best right now; catch local freshwater crayfish & trout at the farmers market on Brookleas Fisheries stall – their own smoke trout is outstanding (they do free tasters!)

Also get smoked trout & eel from Falise Square butchers – Gabriel Machin, who smoke both fish on the premises.

Eels were once virtually the only fresh fish available to those in the country; in the tenth century live eels were used as currency to pay rents to the Abbots of Ely. Wonder if Brakspear would take a few eels as rent from their pub tenants!

350g large floury potatoes

50g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon hot horseradish sauce OR 1 good teaspoon freshly grated horseradish root

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

300g smoked trout fillet

200g smoked eel fillets

1 tablespoon chopped chives

A little flour for dusting

Olive oil for shallow frying

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Make the mash (mashed potatoes have been around for ages – used to be served with eels from street stalls, so appropriate in my fishcakes). Peel & quarter 450g large floury potatoes (I favour Maris Piper which by the time they’ve been peeled & cooked will yield 350g). Plunge into salted boiling water with 4 peeled garlic cloves & cook for 20 minutes. Drain off all the water, discarding the garlic & leave the potatoes to steam-dry for 10 minutes. Mash them by hand with the butter, horseradish & mustard.

Peel the skin from the trout fillets – the eel will already be skinless. Flake the fish into the mashed potato, watching out for any bones. Add the chives & fold the whole lot together – leave the fish in big chunks. Season to taste, but consider the saltiness of the smoked fish. Dust your hands with flour & shape the mixture into little scones.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a gentle heat & add a thin layer of olive oil. Add the fishcakes & fry gently over a moderate heat for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove, pat dry on kitchen paper & enjoy.

In the photo the fishcake is accompanied with steamed summer vegetables & hollandaise.


For a Quick Hollandaise

Chefs muck about making reductions of vinegar for this classic sauce. Here’s a quicker, nicer & simpler recipe. Makes about 150ml.

100g unsalted butter

1 egg yolk

½ tablespoon warm water

squeeze of lemon juice

salt & cayenne pepper

Make clarified butter – melt the butter in a pan, leave to cool so just warm when added to the egg. The butter will separate; add only the clear butter, not the buttermilk that collects at the bottom of the pan. Add egg yolk to water in a bowl & whisk over a pan of hot water until lighter in colour & thickened. Remove from heat, slowly whisk in the clarified butter until all the butter is used & the sauce is think. Add the lemon juice, season & serve.