20 March 2009

Fishy Fridays: Fish cakes

For newsfreaks, this week left some of us wishing for extra sets of eyes, smudge-free newspaper inks and finer controls to our PVRs. We grabbed for our boo bricks and generally debated over pints of Guinness, boxes of Timbits and or plate or two of moussaka (okay, it was mass market cafeteria moussaka, but it was still supposed to be moussaka).

But isn't that what good journalism is supposed to do? By holding up a mirror to the powers that be audiences are enlightened, enraged, encouraged. We want to know more about our political and physical environments. We want to know why a decision made in a not-so-distant past and in a not-so distant place means we're paying only about 25 per cent less for petrol than a year ago while oil prices are roughly half what they were a year ago, how our home values have dropped and the reasons we might want to avoid certain brands of processed meats.

I'm appreciative of good journalism: reporters who research well, find credible sources, legitimately prove what they've discovered seven ways to Sunday and present information in a fair and balanced way. Good journalists can do this and make it look easy. They need to be smart, skeptical, ingenious, trustworthy, determined, fast, patient, fearless, resourceful and value the truth.

News delivery methods don't really concern me (online vs paper vs radio vs TV-- although paper is easier on the eyes than staring in to light beams)...what bothers me is that journalistic skill and experience seem to be pushed aside for cheaper alternatives who quite simply write good or appeal to a certain demographic. Sure some of us think we have the stuff to to keep democracy in check, and have been approached to "contribute" to news outlets...but how many of us could replicate
Woodward and Bernstein to the same level of effectiveness?

I think, because it looks so easy and is so nicely packaged, many people take decent reporting for granted, leaving some unable to differentiate between analysed information and glitzy packages. Foodish analogies point towards differences between
Julia Child and Sandra Lee or Martin Yan's Chinatowns and Road Tasted.

The issue of journalistic standards came to the forefront not so long ago, as Ian Brown put it, it took a jester to point the finger. Yes, I refer to Jon Stewart's televised vivisection of CNBC's Jim Cramer and that television network's business reporting in general. For those of you who missed it and/or cannot access the videos, essentially Stewart took Cramer and CNBC's money honeys to task about the quality of their reporting before the stock market plunged lower than my neckline.

Yeah...when Stewart's team assembled and aired supporting clips, it was pretty obvious that there was something fishy going on...

Almost as fishy as a recent opinion column that included a line from an expert who "chirped" about the "beneficial effects" of being jobless, what got me was the opening para in which the writer confesses she and her husband paid $235 for a sushi dinner for two before moaning on about the virtues of frugality, practically begging for approval for not spending money at the mall.

Here's a bit of advice: spending $235 for two people (whether last week or two years ago) on a few pieces of fish, some mounds of rice and a bits of seaweed kinda sorta negates the overcoming mall temptations/aren't I a virtuously fiscally responsible person thing...a lot

So...for those of us who are honestly trying to be frugal, but still want fish in our diets, I offer you one of the most cost-effective fish dishes I know of: fish cakes.


Roughly equal weights of tinned tuna and leftover cooked potatoes, spices and egg. Mix it all together, form a disc and coat it in cornmeal, flour or breadcrumbs before frying. I chose cornmeal because I wanted the cakes to keep their crunch without the risk of getting soggy.

Yes, it may lack a certain je ne sais quoi usually associated three-figure dining, but you can zhuzh it up swanky greens with foofoo dressing, and or serve them with whatever sauce you wish--I chose flavoured mayonnaises--simply add curry powder or chopped jalepenos to mayonnaise, a roasted pepper sauce, or ketchup..purple ketchup, if need be.

Fish cakes
makes six to ten cakes, depending upon your generosity

340g canned tuna
340g cooked potatoes, riced
1 egg, well beaten
a couple pinches, onion powder
2 Tbsp minced parsley
salt and pepper
cornmeal for coating
peanut oil for frying

Mix tuna, potatoes, egg, onion powder, parsley and salt and pepper together.

Make patties by portioning mixture into patties that are two to three tablespoons of filling each. Coat in cornmeal.

Heat oil and fry patties until golden brown, being careful when flipping them over.

Serve hot with curry or jalepeno mayonnaise or tartar sauce (or any other sauce you wish).


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NKP said...

I can only handle World/American news through Jon's eyes. Much less scary that way.
Love your frugal fish cakes. Perfect for a night at home watching the Daily Show!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh my you write it so clean Jasmine.
And I think I could eat your fish cakes and feel frugal and still feel like I'm living in the lap of luxury!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! This is one of may favorite pantry dinners. I make mine usually with canned salmon. My recipe includes: 1 can salmon, breadcrumbs (either panko, or just from stale bread), 1 egg, 1 shallot, 2-4 Tbsp chopped parsley, relish, salt, pepper. Top with mayo/sirracha/relish mix to make a zippy tartar sauce. Yum!

Dewi said...

What a delicious fish cake that is. I love the sounds of that curry mayonnaise.

breadchick said...

I'm just getting around to replying to this but I too worry about the journalistic integrity of the news sources most people read/see/hear.

Even my beloved NYT seems at times to bow to peer pressure to be smartly entertaining versus giving me just the facts, ma'm.

I have some frozen pollack in the freezer. I think I'm switching out my planned Friday menu for some of these!