In my local market there are multiple stands that sell all manner of smoked and preserved fish, from pickled herring to gravlax-style salmon. But by far the most prevalent are hot-smoked, whole head-on fish like latikas (bream) and forell (trout). Their skin is glossy and golden, darkened and crinkled in spots, while the flesh within is flaky and flavorful.
In winter these rich smoky flavors hit some sort of spot. I stumbled on this recipe for smoked fish patties with dill mayonnaise in Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, which mixes the flaked fillets with potatoes, a little butter, and a heaping handful of fresh dill. More dill ends up in the mayonnaise, which is also spiked with a little minced garlic. A squeeze of lemon and a pile of lightly dressed greens alongside and I was a happy camper.
- 1 1/4 pounds mealy potatoes, such as Russet
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound hot-smoked fish fillets, such as trout
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus 3 tablespoons more for mayonnaise
- A little flour for dusting
- 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil for frying
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Peel the potatoes, cut into quarters, and boil in salty water until tender. Drain the potatoes and beat with the butter, either by hand or using a mixer.
In the meantime, remove any skin or bone from the fillets and roughly break up the flesh. Cover with boiling water and let them sit for ten minutes to soften.
Fold the fish, along with the dill and salt and pepper to taste, into the warm potatoes. Allow to cool a little, then shape into 10-12 patties, each with a chunk about the size of a large golf ball.
Lay out the patties on a cutting board and dust with a sprinkling of flour. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet (or two to expedite frying), preferably non-stick. When it shimmers, add the patties, flour-side down. Sprinkle the tops with a little more flour.
Cook, undisturbed, until they form a crust and are easily flipped, 3 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce, which is just the mayonnaise mixed with remaining dill and garlic.