This is one of my favourite dishes to make because of its simplicity and it’s diversity. I can serve these as an appetizer or a main course. My kids love them and if done right, they can wow a dinner guest. You can make them with the finest crabmeat or an inexpensive canned tuna. They keep well and re-heat for an amazingly simple and flavourful leftover meal. Here’s what you’ll need.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Heat a frying pan with about ½ a cup of oil (I prefer sesame oil, but you can use any oil you like, I’ve tried olive oil and vegetable oil as well)
You’ll need a baking sheet or pan (I line it with tin foil because I hate to clean dishes)
2 celery stalks finely chopped
1 sweet onion finely chopped
½ a bell pepper finely chopped (I prefer red just to add some colour)
2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (omit if you’re not into mustard)
¼ cup of salad dressing (or mayonnaise if you prefer)
½ to 1 cup of bread crumbs (you can substitute crushed potato chips or tortilla chips it’s only used as a binder for the cakes and it can be as flavourful or flavourless as you like)
2 cups fish (I’m a simple man with simple tastes so I use canned tuna drained, I’m allergic to shellfish, but my wife loves crab so I’ll make them with crab just for her. You can lightly steam your favourite fish and use it instead. I’ve used cod fillets and salmon and each choice of fish adds a different flavour and it’s what makes this recipe so versatile!)
The juice of 1 fresh lemon (you can use bottled lemon juice if you prefer or omit this part altogether if you choose)
1 cup of flour in a shallow bowl
2 eggs beaten in a shallow bowl
2 cups Panko bread crumbs (Panko is a Japanese-style bread crumb that has a unique texture and maintains a lovely crispness, but you can substitute any bread crumb or even cornmeal if you like) in a shallow bowl
In a large bowl mix all the vegetables, garlic, mustard and salad dressing, the fish and the egg. Squeeze in the lemon juice being mindful not to let the seeds fall in (you don’t want to crack a tooth). I use my hands to really mix things together. Add the bread crumbs a little at a time until you end up with a mixture that holds together well enough to form into a patty or ball. If you’re using these as an appetizer, form them into small patties or balls, for a main course portion, I make them the size of a large hamburger patty.
Roll the ball or patty in the flour until it’s lightly coated, dip it into the beaten eggs, then roll it in the Panko crumbs until well coated and place in the oil in the frying pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes per side. The Panko breading will crisp up and turn a nice golden brown colour. Remove the patties from the frying pan and place on the baking sheet. Put them in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes for a small patty or 20 minutes for a hamburger sized patty.
Remove and serve with a sauce of your choosing. These go great with plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, honey garlic sauce or a garlic aioli. They are even tasty with a little more lemon juice squeezed over them. Hell my kids like them with ketchup!
This recipe can be anything you want it to be. I’ve made them spicy by adding some hot peppers or chilli flakes to the mixture, and you can season the mixture or the flour to add another level of flavour. If you make the hamburger-sized version, you can reheat the leftovers and eat them on a bun like a burger. They’ll keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Enjoy!