Pollock fish cakes

with thrice cooked chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas
Mark Young
Prep time: 
1.5 hours plus chilling
Cook time: 
1.25 hours total
Ingredients for the pollock fish cakes:
  • 500ml/17½fl oz milk
  • 700g/1lb 8oz Pollock fillets or any white flaky fish
  • 450g/1lb floury potatoes (such as King Edward or Maris Piper), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 bunch of spring onions trimmed and finely sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 75g/3oz dried breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Ingredients for the thrice cooked chips:
  • 1 kg Potatoes for Chipping or Maris Piper, washed and peeled
  • 1 litre groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 1 litre rendered fat (optional) beef dripping is great
  1. Start by making the fish cakes (this can be done in advance). First bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy-based pan and add the fillets. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, then remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Discard the milk.
  2. Remove the skin from the fillets and flake the flesh into a bowl, discarding any bones.
  3. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pan and cook for one minute to drive off any excess moisture. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash well in a bowl. Mix the flaked fish into the mashed potatoes.
  4. In a frying pan soften the sliced spring onions in a little butter and then add to the fish and potato mix, season to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. With slightly damp hands, divide the mixture into eight equal portions and shape each portion into a small cake. Dredge each cake in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs and then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat. Place the fish cakes onto a plate, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for one hour, or until set.
  6. While the fish cakes are firming up prepare your chips, again if required the first two cooking stages of the chips can be done in advance.
  7. Peel the potatoes and then using a sharp kitchen knife, then cut them into chips about 1cm thick. The length of the pieces is not so important, but you do want to keep them the same thickness, so that they cook at the same rate. Place them straight into a bowl under cold running water and keep them there for about 10 minutes to rinse off some of the starch.
  8. Next, bring a large pan of unsalted water to the boil and plunge in the drained potatoes. Bring it back up to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the point of a knife easily penetrates the chips. Make sure the water is only just simmering - if it boils too aggressively, the potatoes will begin to break up before they are cooked sufficiently.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes carefully out of the water and place them on a tray. Allow them to cool, and then place in the fridge until cold. You will notice that the chips harden when chilled.
  10. For the next stage, heat the groundnut oil in a deep-fat fryer to 130C/250F and plunge in the chips. After about 5 minutes, the chips will take on a drier appearance before colouring (do not let them brown). They have now finished their second cooking. Drain, let them cool to room temperature, then put in the fridge with the fishcakes.
  11. To complete the dish put the oil for the chips on:  If you are using rendered fat for this, heat it to 180C/350F. Checking the temperature using a digital thermometer alternatively, reuse the groundnut oil used for the first cook heated to the same temperature. 180C/350F - CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.
  12. Half-fill a separate deep, heavy-based frying pan with vegetable oil and heat to 180C/350F, also checking the temperature using a digital thermometer - again, CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended
  13. Fry the fish cakes in small batches for 3-4 minutes, turning them over halfway, until golden-brown and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper, keep warm while you finish your chips.
  14. Plunge the chips into the hot rendered fat or ground nut oil and cook until golden brown. This may take 8-10 minutes - you need to be patient in order to obtain a really crisp chip, carefully remove and drain any excess fat by placing the cooked chips onto a kitchen paper lined plate and then season with plenty of salt.
  15. Divide the chips and fish cakes between 4 plates (making sure yours has at least  two or three extra chips compared to the others), serve with tartare sauce and mushy peas then enjoy!