The weekend is here and I for one am particularly grateful. I’m not sure if this has been a common experience but May and the first half of June always seem to be crunch time for me. So if you’ve felt the blog has been a little quiet recently, it’s because I’ve been crunched. But I’m here with you lovely people today to bring you quite possibly my favorite brunch – Fish Cake Eggs Benny. This dish boasts a chubby fish cake comprised of creamy mashed potatoes and carrots packed with tender chunks of haddock. The cake is served on a bed of roasted asparagus spears, topped with a poached egg, and positively drowned in hollandaise sauce. This is heaven on a plate, so let’s make it!
I firmly believe fish cakes were created to stretch a single fillet of fish and make use of leftover mashed potatoes. That is their purpose. So if you have leftover mashed potatoes, you make fish cakes. I didn’t, though. I had to manufacture my leftovers for this recipe because leftover mashed potatoes just don’t happen in my house. I’ve even attempted to have leftovers by doubling the batch but somehow we manage to persevere and make it through every. damn. time. Anyway, instead of making pedestrian mashed potatoes, I opted to make squidge. If that word is unfamiliar to you, congratulations on being a normal person.
Squidge is the name my family gives to a dish that is essentially a mixture of mashed root vegetables. Sometimes it’s potato and sweet potato other times it’s potato and rutabaga (we always called it turnip). Occasionally carrots would be invited to the party and that’s exactly what I’ve done here, hence the orange-tinged appearance. I haven’t met anyone else who had squidge as a mainstay of their childhood diet. But if you did, let me know and make me feel less alone.
To the squidge, I added fairly toothsome-sized chunks of haddock. If you can’t find haddock or you’re not a fan swap it out for cod or tilapia. Really any firm white fish will work here. You will also find a cup of frozen peas in these fish cakes because pretty much every fish cake I’ve had has had them and I am a creature of habit. But, as with the haddock, if you’re a pea-hater feel free to give them a miss or swap them out for coarsely chopped green beans. I have a feeling green beans would be quite good here.
Once all the essentials are in the bowl, it’s time to add our binders. Now, mashed potatoes are quite good at holding their shape but because we will be forming this mixture into cakes, breading it, and frying it, we need it to stand up to all that activity. So to the squidge, fish, and peas add an egg and a third of a cup of panko breadcrumbs. I like to chill the mixture for a bit before attempting to form my fish cakes. This is particularly important if your mashed potatoes happen to be fresh like mine.
When the fish cake mixture is sufficiently chilled, it’s time to form the cakes. I like to use a 1/3 of a cup measure as a guide because I like to make large fish cakes. If you would prefer smaller cakes, use a 1/4 cup measure instead. Once the cakes are formed, you can either chill them until you’re ready to make them or you can proceed to the breading process. All you have to do is dip the fish cakes first in cornstarch or flour, then in egg, and finally in panko breadcrumbs. Easy! It is a bit of a messy process, though. And guess what? You can skip it if you want. The breading is not mandatory.
There are a few reasons my grandmother would never endorse this recipe. The first is quite simple. She would never make fish cakes unless she had leftover mashed potatoes or squidge lurking in her fridge. Making mashed potatoes specifically for fish cakes is just wild. No one has time for that, except me apparently.
The second reason is equally logical. My grandmother never breaded her fish cakes. My mother does on occasion, but it has to be for just that – an occasion. Generally, when my family makes fish cakes, it’s chop the fish, add it to the potatoes, pat it into cakes, fry it in a bit of oil, and serve it with chow chow or tartar sauce or both. What I’m doing here would illicit scoffs. Loving scoffs, but scoffs nonetheless. I just can’t help myself. There’s something about a fish cake with a creamy interior and a crisp, crunchy exterior. I like my fish cake to share attributes with a croquette.
Now it’s time to fry our fish cakes. The recipe calls for a shallow fry but you can also deep fry these suckers for a more evenly browned and crisp exterior. I think the shallow fry works perfectly well for this Fish Cake Eggs Benny and it uses less oil. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s dealing with leftover fry oil. So I only deep fry when it is truly necessary by which I mean, its absence will impact my enjoyment of the dish.
To finish off the Fish Cake Eggs Benny, roast some asparagus in a 400°F oven. I just drizzled my asparagus with a little oil and added a little salt and pepper but you can fancy it up if you prefer. I like to have the asparagus in the oven while I’m frying the fish cakes. That way everything is hot and ready at the same time.
The last thing to make is the hollandaise sauce. Now, hollandaise gets a bad rap for being complicated and prone to breaking. But I promise if you use an immersion blender, it will emulsify without a problem. And it will hold its emulsion for longer. Just pour the finished hollandaise sauce into a jar and immerse it in hot water. That will help keep it warm while you get the rest of the dish together, so it will still flow like lava when you’re ready to add it.
Okay, let’s assemble our Fish Cake Eggs Benny. Start by placing 6 -7 asparagus spears on a plate. Place the fish cake on top and add a poached egg. Drown everything in that silky hollandaise sauce and garnish with your favorite microgreen or a sprig of dill. I went with wood sorrel because I have a ton of it in my garden right now. Now, I realize most eggs benny have an English muffin on which to rest. But because these fish cakes are mostly mashed potato, I didn’t feel like I needed the extra bread. If you do, more power to you. Add an English muffin to the plate and don’t look back. I promise I would never cheat you out of carbs.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Fish Cake Eggs Benny. A picture-perfect brunch made for a lazy Sunday.
Fish Cake Eggs Benny
- 1 Large pot
- 1 potato ricer
- 1 immersion blender
- 1 non-stick skillet
Potato Carrot Mash
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
- 5 small carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 28g (1oz) fresh chives finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 batch Potato Carrot Mash cooled
- 1 large haddock fillet cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 large eggs divided
- 2 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs divided
- ½ tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- ⅔ cup cornstarch
- 1 bunch asparagus ends removed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- neutral oil for frying, I used canola
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp cayenne
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 4 poached eggs
- 4 sprigs wood sorrel optional
For the Mash
- Place the potatoes and carrots in a pot and cover them with cold water. Place them over high heat and bring to a boil. Liberally salt the water and continue to boil until the potatoes are fork-tender.4 Yukon gold potatoes, 5 small carrots
- Drain the potatoes and carrots and pass them through a ricer. Add the butter, garlic, sour cream, chives, and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool.2 cloves garlic, 3 tbsp unsalted butter, ⅓ cup sour cream, 28g (1oz) fresh chives, 1 tsp salt
For the Fish Cakes
- Place the haddock and peas in a large bowl with the Potato Carrot Mash. Add one of the eggs and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs. Add the salt and fresh ground pepper and stir to combine. Chill the mixture for 1 hour.1 batch Potato Carrot Mash, 1 large haddock fillet, 1 cup frozen peas, 3 large eggs, 2 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs, ½ tsp salt, fresh ground pepper
- When the hour is up, preheat the oven to 400°F. Form the mixture into cakes, using a 1/3 cup measure as a guide.
- Crack the remaining two eggs into a bowl. Beat them. In a separate bowl pour the cornstarch and in another pour the remaining panko breadcrumbs.3 large eggs, ⅔ cup cornstarch, 2 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
- Working with a fish cake at a time, roll each cake in the cornstarch, then dip it in the egg, and finally roll it in the panko breadcrumbs. Transfer the breaded fish cake to a baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining cakes.
- Heat an inch of neutral oil in a large non-stick skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add no more than four fish cakes to the skillet. Fry until golden on both sides, about 3-4 minutes a side. Transfer the cakes to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining cakes.neutral oil
For the Asparagus
- Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the spears with olive oil and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.1 bunch asparagus, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, fresh ground pepper
For the Hollandaise
- Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a tall mixing glass. Using an immersion blender, blend until the ingredients are fully integrated.3 large egg yolks, 3 tbsp lemon juice, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp cayenne
- With the blender set to high, slowly stream the butter in and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and creamy. Pour the finished sauce into a jar and immerse it in hot water to keep it warm.½ cup unsalted butter
- Arrange 6-7 asparagus spears on each plate. Top the asparagus with a fish cake and top the fish cake with a poached egg. Pour hollandaise sauce over top and garnish with wood sorrel or the microgreen of your choice. Serve immediately.4 poached eggs, 4 sprigs wood sorrel