This is my all time favourite winter slaw recipe. It’s healthy too, so I don’t feel guilty about eating half a tonne of mayonnaise afterwards and it can really stand up to strong flavours like the smoked mackerel I used in the fishcakes. The colours here are so cheering on a winter evening. I find that even if your red cabbage looks a little sorry for itself, you can simply peel off the outer leaves to reveal the shiniest, virgin specimen within. I finish the slaw with some coriander which gives it a nice earthiness. It’s great for lunch boxes too.
About the fishcakes – I’ve started using polenta on the outside as it makes the crispiest crust and is totally foolproof. I don’t even bother to flour the cakes anymore, just dip them in the beaten egg and then coat them really well in polenta and they turn out great every time. The first time I made these I shaped 4 large fishcakes from this mixture, but I think it actually works better if you make 8 smaller ones. They are more manageable this way and look neater.
I like any recipes where you can get your hands dirty with mixing and shaping. I throw in a couple of tablespoons of creamed horseradish and some capers but the possibilities are endless. That’s what you need with a weeknight recipe that you can fall back on, one that can be mixed around with different flavour combinations so you don’t get bored of eating it but you don’t need to think about cooking it either…
1/2 medium sized red cabbage
2 medium sized carrots
1 large red onion
2 cloves garlic
3-4 table spoons of natural yoghurt ( I think full-fat yoghurt is the best here and I always use ‘Total’ Greek yoghurt).
2 table spoons cider vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 generous handful of coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
– Slice the onions and the red cabbage thinly (a mandolin would be useful but I don’t have one and it works fine).
– Grate the carrots and mix with the cabbage and onions.
– Crush the garlic really well with some salt and add this to the mix along with the natural yoghurt, cider vinegar, some pepper and the mustard. I start with 3 table spoons of yoghurt and add more if I think it needs it.
– Finally add the chopped coriander. I like to keep a little back for the final garnish..
Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes
250g potatoes (for mashing)
250g smoked mackerel (I used peppered)
4 spring onions
2 heaped tablespoons of creamed horseradish
A handful of small capers, rinsed
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
100g polenta (you may need extra)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, to serve
– Cook the potatoes until they are only just cooked, then mash and set aside to cool.
– Meanwhile, flake the mackerel, chop the spring onions and mix everything together with the horseradish, capers and some seasoning. Remember the mackerel and the capers are salty and I used peppered mackerel so didn’t need any extra.
– When the potatoes are cooler, add them to the mix. Shape the mixture into 8 cakes and chill for 20 minutes.
– Spread the polenta out on a plate and have the eggs beaten in a bowl next to it so you can get a production line going. Dip each cake in egg and then into the polenta , making sure that they are really well coated.
– Heat enough oil to shallow-fry the fishcakes. Cook them for around 4 minutes on each side or until they are crispy and golden. Serve with the slaw and lemon wedges.