This recipe came to me almost immediately when I was jotting down ideas for dishes for a chapter of my book. Convinced that I had enjoyed these fishcakes when I still lived in Russia, I asked my mum and gran for our family recipe. Turns out they had never heard of the dish. Yet I could easily recall the wonderfully juicy, tender and crunchy texture of the fishcakes. Having no idea where I got the memory of that taste from, I have searched the Russian internet for clues. My research hasn’t returned any satisfying results, instead releasing myriad different fishcake recipes, some called “Monastery Fishcakes”, while others bear the more appropriate name of “Tenderness”. Taking the best from all versions, I’ve conjured up my own recipe, which, when tested, has succeeded in bringing back that wonderful taste that I mysteriously remember so well. This wonderfully refreshing, juicy and crunchy dish would work really well as part of an al fresco feast and can be enjoyed alongside a simple cucumber and radish salad.
1/3 white cabbage
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
bunch of dill, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
½ tbsp salt
250-260g skinless cod loin from a sustainable source
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbsp cornflour
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sunflower oil, for shallow-frying
pinch of sea salt flakes
Finely shred the cabbage. You can do that by quickly pulsing it in a food processor, or by using a mandolin first and then roughly chopping it with a knife. Mix the cabbage with the spring onions, dill, carrot and salt in a bowl for a few minutes so that the cabbage releases its juices. Those are essential to make the fishcakes stick together and also to give you a lovely juicy crunch when you are consuming them.
Chop the cod into small cubes and add it to the bowl, along with the eggs, cornflour and lemon zest and juice. Work the ingredients thoroughly with your hands to obtain a mixture that sticks together.
Heat up enough sunflower oil in a frying pan to shallow-fry the fishcakes – the exact amount depends on the size of your pan, but usually around 4 tbsp for a medium-small pan will suffice.
Use a heaped tablespoon of the mixture to form each fishcake and fry for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy.
Place the cakes on kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes for an added salty bite.
Extracted from Salt & Time by Alissa Timoshkina (Mitchell Beazley, approx €29). Photography by Lizzie Mayson.