I love this time between Christmas and new years eve, it’s the only time of year when everyone is relaxed, nothing matters and anything is possible. Melbourne is a ghost town, it’s so quiet, there’s no traffic, there are kids playing in the streets. It’s a skeleton of a city. Everyone has left town for the beach. I haven’t ever spent this time in Melbourne before, I’ve always been north, but this year I’m walking these hot empty streets and day tripping to the beach. Because it’s so hot, I want everything to be easy, especially dinner. I don’t want to make something complex because it might throw me from my happy heat haze.
These fish cakes are so summery. They are perfectly refreshing and light. They hold together perfectly, so they can be flipped and prodded without fear, and this effect is achieved without starchy binding agents. Don’t overcook, just give them a quick flash in the pan until just cooked through. They should be a little crunchy on the outside and very moist when bitten into. Because the recipe is so simple the flavour of the fish makes a difference, so get a big beautiful piece of salmon from the market.
Sarah and our excellent friend Nadia made the most gorgeous selection of canapés for a garden themed Christmas party for Nadia’s work. I donned a red fifties linen dress and a Christmas red and green leather gumnut necklace (styled by Sarah of course) and carried trays and trays of the delicious nibbles out onto the deck. For hours bite sized delicious treats emerged from the kitchen one after another.
These dill and salmon fish cakes were my favourite. The tiny fennel and pomegranate salads on goat cheese crackers coming a close second, and the lamb cutlets with salsa verde` a very close third.
For the party we made little bite sized fish cakes, each with a dob of homemade mayonnaise or creme fraiche, but we’ve also made them bigger, still to be eaten with your hands though, served with lemon wedges and a bowl of mayonnaise.
It’s going to be 34 degrees today and it’s not getting dark until late late late. I think fish cakes will be perfect for an electric blue, dusk dinner after a day at the beach. With the carload of us a little sunburnt, sand still on our feet, tired and happy from the heat.
Fresh Salmon Cakes (adapted from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries)
500g salmon, finely diced
1 large free-range egg white
small bunch of fresh dill, chopped roughly (stalks removed)
1 tbsp flour
juice of half a large lemon
olive oil to fry
Remove the skin from the salmon then chop the flesh finely. Put salmon in a bowl with the egg white, a couple of tablespoons of dill, the flour and lemon juice, then mush together with a generous grinding of salt and black pepper. Squash spoonfuls of the mixture gently together with your hands to make 10 small balls. Flatten each one slightly, then set aside for a few minutes. Get a little oil hot in a shallow pan. Place the patties in the hot oil (not over crowding the pan) and leave them for two or three minutes until they have coloured on the underside. Turn them over and colour the other side. Cut one in half to check it for done-ness. The fish should be lightly cooked within and golden and crisp on the outside. Eat them with wedges of lemon and home made mayonnaise or creme fraiche.