Ingredients (serves 10-12)
- 500g fish head meat
- 100g baked mashed potato
- 100g fecule de pommes de terres (potato flour)
- 3 large eggs separated
- 100ml cream infused with 200g chopped parsley and 6 large cloves of garlic
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: about 3 minutes per portion
Fish head preparation
- Wash thoroughly, remove gills, scrape any blood off, split in half, lay flat – meat side up – and cover liberally with salt. Cover and allow to brine for up to 3 hours maximum.
- After 3 hours, wash the heads, pat to dry and process in one of two ways.
Preparation method option one
If you have a smoker, lightly hot smoke for 15 minutes at 100°C then steam for 10 minutes and allow to cool in its juices. NB, avoid the artificial smoke injectors they overpower the delicate fish
Preparation method option two
If you do not have a smoker, steam for 20 minutes at 100°C. Cover and allow to cool in its juices.
When cool, remove from the tray (reserve and pass the juice through a sieve) then pick the meat that is in the collar area, the fish cheeks, tongues and any white meat hidden in the crevices as you would with white crab meat.
At this stage, vacuum pack and freeze any extra fish meat in its juice for using when needed and follow method in next column.
- Blitz the lightly warmed fish and its juices in a food processor until very smooth and transfer to a bowl.
- Warm the mashed, passed potato and add the warm parsley garlic cream, mix well, keep the mixture smooth.
- Add the warm potato mix to the warm fish purée and incorporate well while keeping it smooth
- Add the beaten yolks to the warm mix, again smoothness is crucial.
- Sieve the potato flour and mix.
- Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak and, with the help of a plastic spatula, incorporate as you would for a soufflé.
- Taste and, if not salty enough, season well with salt and a good helping of pepper.
- Place in the fridge to set ready for service.
- When needed, fry quenelles in 180°C hot fat, turning constantly with a slotted spoon until golden all round.
- Served with a strong aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and wedges of lemon.
This dish will keep in the fridge for one week and will freeze, without the eggs, for up to three months – just defrost, warm lightly and proceed as above. Croquettes work equally well with ham hock, pigs’ head, oxtail or black pudding. Delicious.
And to drink?
A Portuguese Vinho Verde or a dry sherry marries perfectly with the flavours of the fish.