Upcycled cuisine!

Christmas is soon approaching and I can’t wait. Some people find this a stressful season, but I have very warm and caring Christmas childhood memories. Family and close friends gathering, everyone bringing home made delicacies – lots of delicacies! Enough to feed everyone for a week, but wait… less than a week later is New Year! More gatherings, more food… bliss!

Well lots of food result in lots of leftovers. Portuguese mums will teach you from a young age that food is too precious to waste.  My mum has always been a creative soul in the kitchen. She has lots of recipe books and magazines, but one particular notebook has the most precious recipe content. This is a little notebook where my mum wrote recipes by hand when she was in her late teens / early twenties. Recipes she learned from chefs, but also from relatives – you know the ones I’m talking about: they go from generation to generation, verbally taught in most cases.

I can picture my mum always carrying her little notebook just in case someone would share that one recipe she really wanted to know. A bit like Rick Stein when he goes on his short weekends in some remote part of the world – maybe that’s why I like him so much… It’s no surprise that years collecting recipes would result in different experiments in the kitchen and my mum can definitely turn second-hand ingredients into something new and delicious! The little notebook is now safely stored so I can start digitising it in 2021 (whenever this pandemic allows me to go back to Portugal)! Until then I’ll share a commonly known recipe using leftover fish with you.

Salted cod is the traditional Consoada (Christmas Eve dinner) dish. It doesn’t matter how it’s cooked, provided it’s salted cod it’s fine. We’d normally have it boiled with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, chickpeas and eggs (see what I mean about lots of food?) There’s always leftover cod, but nothing goes to waste! Cod cakes are a good way to re-use the leftover fish.

Now, salted cod isn’t a thing in the UK, but this recipe can be done with any leftover fish really. In fact, I’m a big supporter of consuming local produce: it’s fresher, more sustainable and natural! You can’t beat it, so give it a go with whatever is available in the fridge!

Fish cakes

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

200g potatoes

200g leftover or fresh fish

1 onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 dried bay leaf

2 eggs

Handful chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

300ml vegetable oil


Boil the potatoes until soft. Mash the potatoes. If the fish is raw boil it first. Once cooked remove all bones and skin from the fish. Gently mash the fish with a fork.

In a non-stick pan fry the onions, garlic and bay leaf in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once golden remove from the heat and add the mashed potatoes, fish, parsley and eggs to the mix. Gently stir the mix. Season with salt and pepper. Gently blend the mix so the ingredients combine together.

Scoop a portion of the mix with a metal soup spoon. With a second metal spoon scoop the mix from the first spoon. Repeat until you have smooth spoon sized fish cakes.

Lastly, heat the vegetable oil and then fry the fish cakes, ensuring they turn golden brown on every side. When done, transfer the fish cakes from the pan onto a plate with kitchen paper towel, so that any excess oil is absorbed by the towel and then serve. Bom apetite!

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