Sunday, 8 November 2015

Smoked Kahawai Fish Cakes

My husband Dave is a trout fisherman; a really good trout fisherman. We love eating trout, and we eat quite a bit of it over the summer months. I will share some of the best recipes this summer for you. Ocean fish is something we also enjoy but not something we get often; when we do it is a real treat. Last weekend some friends with a big boat invited Dave to fish with them and so this week has been a feast of fresh ocean fish. Last night I smoked the last of the kahawai and used them to make some delicious fish cakes; the recipe for them is below, but first we will have a look at kahawai.

Kahawai is hands-down my most favourite ocean fish. I like it raw, crumbed, steamed, smoked, or any other way I can get it. Fresh is best with kahawai, but if you can’t use it straight away, smoke it. Smoked kahawai freezes really well and it is by far the best way to keep it long-term.

Nutritionally speaking, Kahawai is one of the best. It is a good source of Vitamin D, B12, Selenium, Iodine, B3, Vitamin A and Phosphorus. It is a low in bad fat and is a very good source of Omega 3, with over 1000mg per 100gms of fish – it gets the biggest tick from the Heart Foundation.

Kahawai is not just found in New Zealand. Our Australian neighbours also have Kahawai, but they call it a salmon; it has many names in Australia, including Eastern Australian salmon, colonial salmon and black-backed salmon. It is not at all related to the salmon family as it is from the Arripis family, and not the family Salmonidae.

At the moment Kahawai are chasing whitebait. If you live near a river mouth you will catch kahawai really easily on bait, a lure and even on a fly. One of our favourite family adventures is to go down to the wharf before first light and cast a fly; the lights on the wharf bring insects, who bring in the small fish, who bring in the kahawai, who bring us. Perfect!  Fishing is family fun.

If you have some free time on Thursday afternoon the 5th November, have a listen to the Jesse Mulligan show on the National Program, after 2pm. I am going to be a guest on the show talking about what we do with wild food and why we do it.

Kia makona,
Mawera Karetai – The Wild Cook

Smoked Kahawai Fish Cakes

450g skinned, boned smoked fish
350g potatoes (plus butter and milk to mash)
2 tsp Italian herbs
1 tbsp fresh white flatleaf parsley, chopped
2 whole spring onions
Pepper and salt to taste
2 eggs
1c milk
flour, for shaping
Bread crumbs to coat
3-4 tbsp good oil, for shallow frying

Clean and chop the potatoes into even-sized chunks (no need to peel if the outside is clean. Put them in a pot and just cover with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until tender, but not broken up.

While the potato is cooking, peel skin from smoked fish and break up into chunks. Finely slice spring onion and add to fish with pepper, salt and herbs.

Once potatoes are cooked, mash with a little butter and milk. Add into fish mixture and gently bring the mix together. Add in one beaten egg to bind.

Mix remaining egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Half fill a second shallow bowl with standard flour. Half fill a third shallow bowl with breadcrumbs.

Taking a handful of the fish mixture, gently form into a cake and dip in the flour, to coat. Remove from flour and dip in the egg/milk mixture. Remove and coat in breadcrumbs. Set aside and continue making cakes until the fish mixture is all used up.

On a medium heat add oil and then three of four fish cakes at a time; do not overcrowd your pan. Turn when golden and cook other side.


Serve with a green salad and a generous dollop of good mayonnaise (homemade is the best).

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