The cured egg yolks take a little time to prepare, but are delicious and well worth your while. They are extremely versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes – tossed into salads, or served over pastas, for example – so it’s worth making up a larger batch if you do attempt them.
These fishcakes make the most of herring’s intense flavour, softened slightly with a little potato.
- 400 g (14 oz) potatoes
- 25 g (1 oz) butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 5 herring fillets, approx. 250 g (9 oz)
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp pepper
- 2 eggs
- 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 100 g (3½ oz) panko or regular breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- cured egg yolks (optional)
- 200 g (7 oz) table salt
- 180 g (6½ oz) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 150 g (5½ oz) kale, leaves stripped and roughly chopped, tough central stalks discarded
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- ½ small cauliflower, grated
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Begin this recipe 3 days in advance
Curing time: 3 days
Drying time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1. For the cured egg yolks, mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl, then transfer the mixture to a 20 × 20 cm (8 × 8 in) ceramic dish. Using the shell of one of the eggs, press down the salt mixture to create four indents. Separate an egg, placing the yolk in the indent and discarding the white, then gently spoon some of the surrounding salt mixture over the yolk to cover it. Repeat with the remaining eggs, then wrap the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 days. Once cured, remove the egg yolks from the dish, brushing off any excess salt, then rinse under a gentle stream of water and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Preheat the oven to 65°C (150°F). Lay the egg yolks on a sheet of baking paper, transfer to the oven and leave for 1½ hours to dry out. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar. When the yolks are completely cool, transfer to a sealed container and set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
3. Boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water for 10–15 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain the potatoes and leave them to cool, then peel and roughly chop them. Set aside.
4. For the salad, add the kale and lemon juice to a bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle over the salt, then use your hands to massage the kale for 2–3 minutes to help break it down and soften it. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise and cauliflower and combine well. Set aside.
5. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 5–8 minutes until soft and translucent, then transfer to a food processor together with the fish, potatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper and 1 egg. Pulse for 10–20 seconds, scraping down the sides as you go, until the mixture holds together like a chunky mashed potato, but is not yet a paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.
6. Lightly beat the remaining egg in a wide shallow bowl. Add the flour to a second bowl and the breadcrumbs to a third. Half-fill a large heavy-based saucepan or deep-fryer with oil and heat to 180°C (350°F).
7. Divide the chilled fishcake mixture into four equal-sized pieces, roll them into balls and press on them to form patties. Coat the patties first in the flour, then in the egg wash and finally roll them in the breadcrumbs. Carefully lower the patties into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel to drain off the excess oil.
8. To serve, divide the salad and lemon slices among plates, top with the fishcakes, halved or broken if desired, and grate over the egg using the fine side of a box grater to finish.
• For a quick alternative to the cured egg yolk, make up a mustard sauce to serve alongside the fishcakes instead. Mix together 3 tablespoons wholegrain mustard, 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar, 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar in a bowl, then slowly whisk in 200 ml (7 fl oz) sunflower oil until the sauce emulsifies. Stir through 20 g (¾ oz) chopped dill to finish. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Recipe and photography from Baltic by Simon Bajada (Hardie Grant, RRP $50)