Cauliflower – the best vegetable? It’s a very real possibility. I’ll eat it pretty much any way it comes, including roasted, boiled, pureed, and smothered in cheese sauce. I mean, that last one isn’t particular to cauliflower; I’ll eat anything smothered in cheese sauce. Even kidney beans, probably*.
The only thing I’m not really sold on is cauliflower as an alternative to potato. I have a deep and unbreakable bond with the humble potato (we are both kind of lumpy but ultimately good at heart) and I find it hard to understand how you could ever mash a cauliflower and pretend it was a lovely bowl o’ spuds.
Saying that, I wanted to make some lower-calorie fishcakes as part of my Batch Cooking Sunday**, and I had the thought that I could do exactly that: replace the potato element with cauliflower. The worst that could happen is that I’d end up with a few sub-par fishcakes.
In fact, they turned out to be pretty delicious, which is good because I made a lot of them.
(I have to confess that I did absentmindedly eat some of the roasted cauliflower once it was done, which I maintain is a good thing because I’m taste-testing the goods.)
This makes 12 small fishcakes, but you can easily make them larger if you fancy. I’m here to inspire you to greater things – don’t let me drag you down. Make one GIANT fishcake if you want! I mean it would be impossible to flip but I believe in your creativity and tenacity. What do you have to lose, besides your dignity and the non-stick coating on your favourite frying pan?
These can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge covered with clingfilm for a day or two until you’re ready to make them.
Cauliflower Fishcakes (Pescatarian, Gluten-free)
Makes 12 fishcakes (1sp each)
Prep/cooking time: 40 minutes
2 x roasting tins (1 larger), lined with greaseproof paper; medium mixing bowl; a sturdy chopping board and knife; paper towels; 1/4 cup measure (or a sizeable serving spoon); frying pan; potato masher; fish slice/spatula for flipping (fun fact: my stepdad calls this a ‘fish flap’ and I hate it).
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 340g fish pie mix (I like a combination, but you can use what you like. I used 1/3 salmon, 1/3 cod and 1/3 smoked haddock)
- 1 fillet smoked mackerel (or smoked mackerel flakes – 80g)
- 30g panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
- 1 egg
- 2 spring onions
- 2 tbsp fresh chives (roughly 5g)
- Salt & pepper
- Cooking spray
- Get your oven on at 200 and prep your roasting tins, lining them with greaseproof paper to make your life easier. If using a pre-made fish pie mix you just need to load the fish into the smaller tin (the larger one is for your cauliflower) – otherwise, cut the fish into manageable chunks for quicker cooking. Snap the leaves off the outside of the cauliflower and cut off the base. Break into florets and give them a rinse before dumping them in the larger pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and add a little salt & pepper, then bung both of the tins in the oven. The fish will only need 10 minutes, but the cauliflower will need around 25.
- Prep the rest of the ingredients while your fish cooks. Top and tail your spring onions and finely slice them, and finely chop your chives. Add these to the mixing bowl along with the breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper. Flake in the mackerel and wash your hands thoroughly because mackerel sticks around guys.
- Once the fish is cooked, take it out the oven and leave to cool for at least 5 minutes. Once it’s about cool enough to touch, flake this into the mixing bowl alongside the other ingredients and give it a quick mix. Potter around and do a bit of cleaning up (fishy packaging in the outside bin, friends) while the cauliflower finishes up.
- When the cauliflower is tender and you can easily slide a knife through the thickest piece, take it out of the oven (turn it off unless you want to cook your fishcakes in the oven – see step 6). Give your chopping board a wipe down (if you’ve cut your fish on this, please use another board!!!) then cover it with a couple of pieces of kitchen paper. Get the cauliflower onto your board and put another couple of pieces of paper on top. Leave to stand for around 5 minutes – until it’s cool enough to touch – then start to press down on the cauliflower, squeezing out some of the excess moisture. Take off the paper towels and wiggle out the layer underneath, then mash the cauliflower on the board. This is incredibly therapeutic actually – I’d recommend you make this recipe if you’ve got some anger to work through. Scrape the roughly mashed cauliflower into the mixing bowl.
- Add the egg and mix everything together thoroughly. Using a spoon or a 1/4 cup measure, grab chunks of your fishcake mix and form it into a ball with your hands – this is going to get messy but I promise you it’s the best way to get the right shape. Once you have a nice firm ball, flatten it slightly and set aside. Do this until all the mix is used up.
- At this stage you can bake them, but I have to tell you that I only fried mine so I have no clear idea of how well this would work. I like mine nice and browned on both sides, so pan frying is my method of choice. Put your pan on a medium heat and spray liberally with cooking spray. Once hot, add the fishcakes to the pan, cooking for a few minutes on either side to ensure that they’re heated through completely and you’ve started to get a nice brown colour on the outside of each patty (you may need to do this in batches). Once cooked, serve with salad, veggies, chips, or whatever else you fancy.
These fishcakes are light, flaky, and packed with flavour. They’re also – as ever- easy to customise, so feel free to add whatever fish you like. Or spices! Thai fishcakes, am I right??? So good.
I always love to know if you’ve made anything from the blog — seriously, it makes me fan myself. I’m like a corseted maiden faced with a cavalcade of wealthy (but earnest) gentlemen, all holding their hats nervously in their hands and promising to show me their vast estates.
(Literally no points at all for guessing my favourite Jane Austen novel.)
Anyway, let me know if you make these, and show me what they look like! I’m a truly terrible photographer, so it might be nice to see my stuff looking decent.
*Okay, that actually caused me mental anguish to type. What a vile concept.
**This only came into existence this weekend but I’m absolutely keeping it going. I’ve got 6 portions of parsnip & apple soup (a riff on this Hairy Bikers recipe), a batch of these fishcakes, and a freezer full of breakfast muffins. I also started infusing some cranberry and orange vodka, but that’s not really meal prep…