Smoked haddock fish cakes

Paul Merrett tops comforting fish cakes with a poached egg and creamy sauce of leeks and peas
By Paul Merrett
Smoked haddock fish cakes
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes plus 1 hr chilling
  • Effort: easy


For the fishcakes

  • 1 kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
  • knob butter
  • splash milk
  • 450 g natural dyed smoked haddock fillets, skin removed and reserved
  • 300 ml cold chicken stock
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • handful Japanese panko crumbs
  • vegetable oil, for shallow frying

For the sauce

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 1 leek, cut into fine rings
  • handful peas, fresh or frozen

To serve

  • 4 eggs

Tips and Suggestions

Don't overcook the fish or it will be rubbery. To ensure it is just cooked through, remove it from the stock when it starts to simmer.

Adding the warm mash to the fish makes it easy to mix together; you don't want to overwork the mixture as that will make it gloopy.

Choose natural smoked haddock rather than artificially dyed fish, which is bright yellow in colour.

Japan's feathery-looking panko breadcrumbs give a crispier result than fresh breadcrumbs or cornflake crumbs.


1. For the fish cakes: in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until tender. Drain thoroughly, then return them to the saucepan and mash well with a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk. Keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, put the haddock and stock in a small pan over a medium-high heat. When the stock begins to simmer, lift out the fish (leave the stock in the pan) and let them cool on the side.

3. For the sauce: put the reserved haddock skins into the poaching liquid and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, flake the haddock into a large mixing bowl, checking for any remaining bones. Add the warm mash, then the parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix together using your hands until just combined.

5. Shape the mixture into four cakes and coat them in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Chill for about an hour to firm them up.

6. To finish the sauce, strain the stock to remove all the solids, then return the liquid to the saucepan and add the cream. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until you have a rich, creamy sauce. Keep warm.

7. Shallow fry the fishcakes in about 1cm of vegetable oil for about 5 minutes or until golden and crisp, turning halfway through cooking. Meanwhile, poach the eggs in a large pan of simmering water. Reheat the sauce, add the leek and peas and let them cook in it for 2 minutes.

8. Briefly drain the poached eggs on kitchen paper then place one on top of each fishcake. Spoon the sauce around the sides and serve immediately.

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