There are many benefits to buying whole fish, not least because it’s easier to identify freshness by the clarity of its eyes and scales and the colour of its gills. If you have a fishmonger near you, ask them to fillet the fish, to save you the work, and make sure you take the head and skeleton home; buying fish like this also ensures it’s fresher and tastier than fillets, which may well have been cut several days earlier. Make broth or today’s simple fish scrap croquettes from the meat on the head and skeleton; there tends to be a lot near the base of the tail and the top and bottom of the head. Simply scrape off all the flesh with a spoon.
Fish scrap croquettes
Croquettes are a real favourite of mine, and I’ve been making them since my first days of cooking Spanish food back in 1997. Salting the fish mince before cooking firms up the texture and gives it a similar taste to a Spanish-style salt cod croqueta. Get ahead by making the croquette mix up to 24 hours in advance, so you can simply shape and fry the croquettes at the last moment. This recipe is for only a small quantity of croquettes, and requires you to steam or boil just one potato, so to save on energy, consider cooking more to serve as a side dish or to reheat later; either way, always use an appropriately sized pan to prevent energy wastage.
1 tsp sea salt
90g fish mince
150g floury potatoes (desiree, king edward, maris piper), finely diced
2 spring onions (about 40g), finely diced
2 sprigs parsley (about 5g), stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
1 pinch chilli flakes, or more to taste
1 small egg
3 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
1½ tsp oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, to serve
Mix the salt and fish mince and put in a colander to drain for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, steam or boil the potato for 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, then mash with the spring onion, parsley and chilli flakes.
Squeeze any moisture out of the minced fish, then stir into the potato mixture, along with the egg. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding black pepper and more chilli flakes, if desired; if the mixture is still on the wet side, add up to three tablespoons of breadcrumbs, so it’s malleable. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then divide the mixture into 12, and use two tablespoons to shape each piece into a rugby ball shape.
Put the oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat and, once it’s hot, fry the croquettes in batches, turning occasionally, for three to five minutes, until golden brown all over. Serve hot with the lemon wedges.