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To make about 16 fish cakes (8 servings), you'll need

about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh fish, such as red snapper, grouper, halibut, or any fleshy fish, to yield about 2 cups of flaked cooked fish. Any leftover cooked fish will work (I used part of the grilled tilapia I cooked the day before, and some perch fillets). In a pinch, canned tuna would work.
1/4 cup (preferably white) bread crumbs, or cooked mashed African yam
1 egg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground dried red pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon fish spice (I used an Indian fish masala)
1/4 cup of finely grated or minced onion (optional, I omitted this)
1/4 cup of water
vegetable oil for frying (like canola), not palm oil
waxed paper (optional)
  1. Wash the fish, season it if desired and bake it in a moderate oven ( 350 F) for half an hour or until it flakes easily. Make sure to grease the bottom of the pan lightly to keep it from sticking. Remove and allow it to cool enough to handle it.
  2. Remove the skin and carefully remove all the bones and discard them. Put the fish into a bowl and flake and mash it with a fork or your fingers or a wire whisk until it looks like bread crumbs.

  3. Prepare the starch that will serve as a binder: if bread crumbs, put a couple of pieces of preferably slightly stale bread in a blender and pulse briefly. If you are using African yam (please, NOT sweet potatoes), peel and chop it and cook in boiling salted water, drain, and mash). I had the ends of some lovely San Francisco sour dough French bread that I used.

  4. Add the pepper, fish spice, salt, water, and egg (if you are using it) and mix thoroughly.

  5. I put a piece of waxed paper onto my work surface, and put on it about 2 T of the mixture (use more or less, according to the size you wish). Then, using a table knife, flatten it into a patty about a half an inch thick, and use the blade of the knife to shape the 4 sides of the patty.

  6. While these can be deep-fried, I prefer to use a large heavy frying pan to shallow fry them in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil at a medium high temperature, frying one side until brown, then gently turning them over with a slotted spoon or turner, and draining them on paper towels. If you prefer deep-frying, heat several cups of oil in a deep fryer or deep pan on the stove to about 375 F. Make sure never to fill the oil over half full since it could bubble over when adding the fish.
  7. Serving suggestions: Serve with hot pepper sauce or shito or even ketchup. These patties can also be made larger and served as a main dish with sauted onion rings and eaten with yam, rice and Ghana-style gravy, or even as a first course with cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce and vinaigrette dressing.

Recipe #62 Fish Balls

This recipe is very similar to fish cakes. The ingredients require a couple of additional things:

about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh fish, such as red snapper, grouper, halibut, or any fleshy fish, to yield about 2 cups of flaked cooked fish. Any leftover cooked fish will work,  including canned tuna
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
for 1 cup of white cream sauce

         1 cup milk
         1 Tablespoon corn starch
         2 Tablespoons margarine or butter
         salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon red or black pepper)

vegetable oil for frying (like canola), not palm oil
waxed paper (optional)

Follow steps 1 and 2 as for Recipe #61.
Prepare bread crumbs as in Recipe #61. Put them in a small shallow bowl.
Break the egg into a small bowl and mix it with a fork.
Prepare the cream sauce: Mix together the milk and corn starch in a small pan, stir it until smooth and add the salt, pepper, and butter or margarine. Heat on the stove top over  medium heat, stirring constantly. When it comes to a simmer, simmer for 1 minute to thicken it, then remove it from the stove and add  it to the fish. Note: I found that I needed to add a little extra fish for mine to hold together, so you might want to begin with 3/4 cup of white sauce and then add the rest if you determine it will not make the balls too soft to hold their shape.
Put a sheet of waxed paper on you work surface.
Shape about 2 Tablespoons of the fish mixture into a ball in you hands, dip it into the beaten egg, and roll it in the bread crumbs. Continue until all of the mixture is used up.
 These balls are best deep-fried as explained in recipe #61 (heat several cups of oil in a deep fryer or deep pan on the stove to about 375 F. Make sure never to fill the oil over half full since it could bubble over when adding the fish.). Drain them on paper towels after cooking.

Serving suggestions: These balls have a milder, moister flavor than the cakes, and make delicious appetizers. They can be served the same way as fish cakes. At Flair catering, they are sometimes served in gravies, with or without curry powder, and gently set into the pot just before serving and shaken to coat them.

NOTE: While I prefer these freshly prepared (I feasted on them yesterday with some of the fresh pepper sauces!), they can also be kept warm in an oven, or reheated quickly in a microwave or oven just before serving.

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