I’ve been doing some experimenting again, and had a go a vegan version of fish cakes. When I first went vegan I assumed that there wouldn’t be much point trying to replicate fish and seafood, but after successful experiments with banana blossom paella and my own version of smoked salmon, I can see that there are lots of possibilities.
Fish taste the way they do because of the salt water they live in (in the case of salt water fish) and the food they eat. These flavours can be easily replicated, especially with the help of nori (seaweed used for making sushi). We tend to think that seaweed tastes fishy, but of course it’s the other way round – fish taste seaweedy! The same goes for nutrition; we’re told we need to eat fish for omega 3, but nori is packed with the stuff (where did we think the fish got it from?).
Anyway, fish cakes. The hardest thing when making vegan versions of things like meat, fish and cheese seems to be getting the texture right. I figured fish cakes would be easy because the texture of the fish itself tends to get lost in a fish cake. My experiment turned out really well. If you’d like to have a go, here’s what you’ll need to do…
Makes 4 large fish cakes
400g potatoes, I used ‘Charlotte’ variety
6 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
80g crusty bread
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. capers, chopped
1 sheet nori seaweed, shredded
1 tbsp. lemon juice
280g firm tofu, I used Tofoo Naked
1 pinch saffron (optional)
2 tbsp. vegan mayonnaise, I used the Tesco Free From variety
2 tbsp. soya milk
1 tsp. lemongrass puree (optional)
Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C (180 for a fan oven).
- Chop the potatoes and boil for about 15 minutes until soft.
- While the potatoes are boiling, chop the spring onions and then soften them in a frying pan, using a little oil if you want.
- Tear the nori sheet into little bits and add to the pan along with the chopped capers and a pinch of saffron if using.
- Next, crumble the tofu into the pan and cook for 5 or 6 minutes to let it absorb the flavours.
- As the tofu is cooking, add the juice from the lemon, but zest it first and keep the zest for later. Add some salt at this stage too.
- You should essentially have a fishy tofu scramble, set this aside.
- For the coating, add the crusty bread, coconut oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper to a food processor and blitz until you have some fairly coarse breadcrumbs, set aside.
- Mix up the mayonnaise, soya milk, lemongrass puree (if using) and tablespoon of lemon juice, set aside.
- Add the potatoes and tofu mixture to a bowl along with the parsley and mash together using a potato masher.
- Form this mixture into four equally sized fish cake shapes.
- Coat each one in the mayonnaise mixture and then the breadcrumbs. I found it easiest to use a pastry brush to coat one side, then I set it in the bread crumbs and coated the other side and flipped it over.
- Cook for 20 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are turning golden.
I served these with sweet potato chips, steamed baby corn and mange-tout. I had originally planned to make some tartar sauce, but only remember at the very last minute. I didn’t really have time, so instead made a very quick marie rose sauce (equal quantities tomato ketchup and vegan mayonnaise, a dash of lemon juice and a shake of smoked paprika).
I’m really pleased with these. The fishy flavour comes through from the nori and capers, and the lemon gives them a freshness. The texture was just right, and the coconut oil allowed the breadcrumbs to brown nicely and get a little crispy. There are various vegan fishcake recipes out there, but I deliberately tried to ignore them and invent my own. I really enjoyed experimenting with this, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I hope you like it too – if you make it yourself, let me know what you think!