WHAT do you feed a hungry family for tea that is healthy and homemade in these strange stay-at-home-and-keep-safe times?

Fishcakes of course.

This humble meal is a solid piece of British history, substantial, and an item that has bolstered the menu of many fish and chip shops up and down the UK for decades.

Surely these bread-crumbed bad boys need a homemade revival?

Not only is potato and fish one of food’s most enduring partnerships - a combination far greater than Ant and Dec or Richard and Judy - but as a (potentially) protein-orientated outlet for leftovers such as stale bread and fish trimmings, it dovetails neatly with ideals of zero-waste.

Lockdown cooking is one of those few things that unites all people of the world, making good with what we have.

Making fishcakes can be an healthy option with a can of salmon left over from Christmas, or maybe a tin of tuna fish or a tin of dreaded pilchards bought at the height of panic-buying.

Mrs Beeton’s 19th century cook book stated fishcakes were a good way of using up leftovers that might otherwise be thrown away, and not only do homemade fishcakes taste tons better than shop-bought pre-packed ones, you know exactly what is going into them.

Yorkshire is one of those places where typically us locals have chosen to sandwich a piece of fish between two slices of potato, battered it, deep fried it and called it a fishcake. Delicious, but maverick and proud to eat it.

So what is a British-style fishcake?

It is a patty ranging in diameter from a ice-hockey puck to a Showaddywaddy single and no thicker than a Harry Potter adventure book.

It should be shallow-fried or even baked. Baked fishcakes can upset some hardcore, and some connoisseurs say it kills the fishcake as surely as home-taping was killing music.

Most importantly, the fishcake must have a crisp breadcrumb coating, merely flouring the cakes, and in many ways the fishcake is all about the crumb.

In terms of content, it offers endless flexibility and an ability to harmoniously reconcile anything beyond potato and fish.

So be adventurous when making them as the cake mix should be more than seasoning.

For instance, a handful of spring onions and cheese or a hint of horseradish or lemon zest, served with chips, mushy peas and jet-washed with lemon juice.

Thank you #NHS #keyworkers 

Homemade fishcakes


1 drained can of pink salmon, tuna fish, around 200g in weight 

200g mashed potatoes, chilled

Good knob of butter

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon dried dill

Zest of half lemon 


2 tablespoons plain flour

1 egg, beaten with a little milk

50g fine golden breadcrumbs or homemade from stale bread


1. Mash the potato in a large bowl adding a knob of butter and dill. 

2. Drain the can of salmon or chosen fish filling and add to the potato with the lemon zest, seasoning well with salt and pepper. 

3. Divide the mixture into six balls and pat into fishcake shapes, placing onto a large plate to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

4. Meanwhile, place the beaten egg and milk, flour and breadcrumbs into separate small bowls. 

5. Dust your fishcakes in flour first until completely coated, then tip into the egg mixture, and roll into the breadcrumbs. 

6. In a large frying pan, add a good measure of olive oil and gently cook the fishcakes until golden brown on both sides. 

7. Place your fishcakes onto a large baking tray and pop it into a preheated oven 190c/Gas Mark 5 to warm through for 10 minutes. 

* For a simple tartar sauce recipe, simply mix two tablespoons of mayonnaise, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon caper, 2 gherkins finely chopped with a 1/4 teaspoon chopped dill, then mix everything together well.