Thursday, February 14, 2013

Baked fish cakes with cilantro and sumac

Fish cakes are great as a first course to serve with salad or a light lunch as well. These fish cakes are made with tilapia, potatoes, onions, green chilies, cilantro and the magic ingredient sumac. Sumac is used extensively in middle eastern dishes and is one of the ingredients found in Za'tar. It is a  tangy red powder made by grinding the sumac berries and is great sprinkled over fish, chicken, or salads. I have used it here to give the fish cake a bright taste.

I poached the fish in a lightly aromatic broth and then mixed it with boiled potatoes, chopped red onions,  green chilies, cilantro and some sumac. Then I formed them into small cakes  and baked them for half an hour in a hot oven. In order to get the cakes to brown, it is best to use a light baking sheet instead of a heavy one, since it conducts heat quicker and allows for better browning. Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Baked fish cakes with cilantro and sumac

½ lb tilapia (any firm white fleshed fish will work)
A quarter sized piece of ginger
10 black peppercorns
1 medium sized Russet potato; boiled and peeled (I find its mealy texture perfect for mashing)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon finely minced green chili (use as much or as little depending on your spice tolerance)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground sumac
3 - 4 tablespoons canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Heat about 1 ½  inches of water with ginger, black pepper and ¼  teaspoon salt  in a medium sized saucepan that can accommodate the filet of fish. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat too simmer and slowly lower the fish into the water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Once cool flake the fillet with a fork.
3. Mash the boiled potato and mix it with the onions, cilantro, green chili and salt to taste. Now gently mix the fish and the sumac to the potato mixture. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Take little balls of the fish and potato mixture and make little cakes by flattening the balls. You should get 10 from this quantity.
4. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to a baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack for 5 minutes to heat the oil. Now place the cakes on the pre-heated baking sheet. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of canola oil over the cakes and place the baking sheet back in the oven in the middle rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the fish cakes and place it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. The fish cakes will be golden brown on both sides.
5. Serve warm.

Makes ten 1 ½ inch fish cakes

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