Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ottolenghi's Fish and Caper Patties with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle

I loves me some fishcakes! I typically toss some together whenever I have a little extra fish lying around, so I was immediately attracted to these Ottolenghi Fish and Caper Kebabs with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle from Jerusalem. Lemon, capers and dill are my favorite fish parings and they give these patties plenty of flavor. I was also happy to see the Quick Pickled Lemons as a condiment in the recipe as preserved lemons are our optional community recipe for May at I Heart Cooking Clubs and of course I didn't plan and have time to wait the 4 weeks needed for classic preserved lemons. Anything that pickles in 24 hours, works for me!

Jerusalem notes: "The combination of the kebabs with the eggplant and pickled lemon makes a wonderfully rich main course: serve it with plain rice or bulgur. The lemon and eggplant condiments, however, are not necessary. You can easily serve the kabobs as a starter with just a squeeze of lemon and a small green salad."

Fish and Caper Patties with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
(Serves 3-4 as Starter / Makes 12 Patties) (I made 9 Patties)

2 medium eggplant (about 1 2/3 lb / 750 g total)
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
about 2 Tbsp oil for frying
2 tsp Quick Pickled Lemons (recipe below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

14 oz / 400g white fish fillets, skin & bones removed (I used local mahi)
1/2 cup / 30 g fresh bread crumbs
1/2 large egg, beaten
2 1/2 Tbsp / 20 g capers, chopped (I didn't chop them)
2/3 oz / 20 g dill, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)

Start with the eggplant. Burn peel and drain the eggplant flesh. (Either char over a gas range, roating sides for 15-18 minutes or broil in the oven for one hour--turning to get all sides. Allow to cool, scoop out flesh and drain flesh in a colander for at least 1 hour.) Once well drained, coarsely chop the flesh and combine in a bowl with the yogurt, garlic parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For kebabs, cut the fish into very thin slices, about 1/16-inch / 2 mm thick. Cut slices into a tiny dice and put into a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Dampen hands and shape the mixture into patties or fingers about 1 1/2 oz / 45 g each. (Note: I didn't weigh mine, but I got nine patties out of the mixture that were probably about 3 1/2-inches in diameter). Arrange patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pour enough oil into a frying pan to form a thin film on the bottom and place over medium-high heat. Cook the kebabs in batches for 4-6 minutes for each batch, turning until colored on all sides and cooked through. 

Serve while still hot, three per portion, alongside the burnt eggplant and a small amount of pickled lemon (careful the lemons tend to dominate).

Quick Pickled Lemons
(Makes about 1.5 quarts)

1/2 red chile, chopped
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 small-medium unwaxed lemons, halved lengthwise and sliced widthwise as thinly as possibly
3 Tbsp superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Use a mortar and pestle to smash the chile with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice; you want to get a rough looking paste. Transfer to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together well so that all the flavors get massaged into the lemons. Leave in a covered bowl overnight, then transfer to sterilized sealed jar the next day.  The lemons will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes/Results: The little fishcakes were tasty with the lemon, dill and capers. I used a local, mild Mahi, which worked great. My cakes cooked about 7 minutes total and were still moist and tender. I found I enjoyed the quick pickled lemons--sweet, sour and somewhat pungent--but they are pretty strong so I would put less on the plate than I did for the pictures. I still want to make a batch of the preserved lemon, but these are a fun and easy way to get some of those flavors. My favorite thing on the plate was the burnt eggplant sauce/dip. The eggplant had a lovely roasted flavor and a creamy texture--very pleasing. I did realize that I used the ingredient amounts for one eggplant (there was only one decent one when I went to the store), so I would probably double them for 2 eggplants--to get that saucy texture from the yogurt and the extra flavor from the garlic. I also might add mint the next time just for fun. ;-) With the prep needed for the lemons and the eggplant, this isn't a quick throw-together-at-the-last-minute meal but it goes together quickly once you have everything prepped. I enjoyed this as a starter plate and with the cakes reheated the next day, served with rice and sauteed spinach. I would make it again. 

This week's IHCC theme is Pattycake, Pattycake... You can check out the fritters, pancakes, patties, etc. that everyone made by following the post links.


  1. I love all the salty briny flavor in these! You know I'm a sucker for anything with capers as well!

  2. Your plate looks stunning! Interesting that some typical tartar sauce ingredients have actually made their way into the patty; they must have tasted phenomenal with the local Mahi Mahi (I'm jealous).

  3. That burnt eggplant is really getting my attention, especially since you gave it such a great review. It looks ridiculously creamy! There is a recipe in Plenty for burnt eggplant over lentils that I have on my list.

    I know those fish and caper patties got your attention right away ;-) They look perfectly golden brown and delicious. Very pretty with the lemons.

  4. Couscous & ConsciousnessJune 1, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I loved this dish too, Deb. The burnt eggplant was a definite winner. Definitely a dish I will keep coming back to.

  5. Hi Deb!
    Looks like you're still creating some tasty meals. I've been on a blog hiatus for a while but I'm sure glad I'm back. Just look at what I've been missing!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  6. All these delicious fritters...I love the addition of capers to these ones. And I keep seeing that lemon pickle popping up....must make some. I do have my annual stash of lemons preserving but they are a few weeks away....well worth the wait.

  7. kitchen flavoursJune 2, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    I love the combination of this plate! Fish and capers sounds good, I love capers! And having the fish patties with the burnt eggplant dip looks so delicious! The pickled lemons are a delight, I am looking forward to use this as a pairing for my meals!


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