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Fish Patties-Making Them Bind-Help


Amy Viny
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At wits end with an over abundance of fresh seafood from a generous friend's trip. I have fin fish, shrimp, and scallops. Now that I have sautéed grilled and steamed to death, I'm moving on to new techniques for dealing with the bounty--How about fish burgers. I've tried a batch in the food processor with a little seasoning and egg and bread-crumbs to bind. Tasty they were but had a hard time holding them together when I sauteed them in the skillet. They just were not durable enough. What else could I use to make them stick together without adding in an additional flavor? I feel like I need a little trans-glutamaise or something molecular but I don't want to go that route. I'm really looking for a much more commonplace ingredient. Any ideas?

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A lot of traditional fishcakes in Nova Scotia use a bit of mashed potato bind everything up. You really notice it's there, though, with the texture. You might be looking to focus on the fish flavour.

The other thing I could recommend, and I'm not sure if it would work or not with ground fish, since I usually do it with ground beef and pork, is to use a little egg and bread crumb like you did before, and tip the whole lot into a bowl. Then, pick it up and throw it at the side of the bowl. After a couple of shots like this, it should start to bind together as a mass. When it's holding together like a dough ball, you can break it up into little cakes. I got this technique out of a Japanese cookbook, to make hambaagu; and some eagle-eyed posters saw Richard Blais using it on Top Chef 4.

You also might try looking up shu mai recipes to see how they make the shrimp filling work. I've never made them before, but it sounds like a great way to use up shrimp.

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Mushed prawn meat will bind anything (ok not anything). It's used in Chinese cooking a lot. You could mix with pork as in Sui Mai or with other fish and fry them as patties or stuff them into veggies. My family favourite is prawn and cod. Smashing raw prawns with the side of the cleaver is very satisfying indeed. Mixing with the fingers then slapping the mixture against the side of the bowl gives it a 'bouncey teeth' (transliteration) texture. No need for egg or breadcrumbs or other extraneous ingredients.

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Mushed prawn meat will bind anything (ok not anything).  It's used in Chinese cooking a lot.  You could mix with pork as in Sui Mai or with other fish and fry them as patties or stuff them into veggies.  My family favourite is prawn and cod.  Smashing raw prawns with the side of the cleaver is very satisfying indeed.  Mixing with the fingers then slapping the mixture against the side of the bowl gives it a 'bouncey teeth' (transliteration) texture.  No need for egg or breadcrumbs or other extraneous ingredients.

Mash prawns..hmmm sounds perfect. I'll give it a try.. Thanks for the suggestion. BTW do you think a little cornstarch might help too?

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Working the "dough" a bit should make the proteins bind together and create a firmer texture.

Smacking it against the side of the bowl is an interesting variation - will that create a different texture?

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Not to belabor the mashed prawns thing but I read somewhere that frozen prawns or shrimp are less binding than fresh. Does anyone know anything about that? And is there a difference between prawns and shrimp? I thought it was a distinction based upon size--not species.

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For the simplest kind of American-style fish, crab or shrimp cakes I find the rule of thumb is to use as few ingredients as possible--keeping the seafood as the star of the affair--and refrain from blending or mushing the ingredients or doing anything violent to them. Shrimp or crab is cooked ahead of time, til just barely done, and then flaked or cut into small pieces that will still have a bite to them. The most delicious seafood cakes are also the most delicate and don't bind easily because they are mainly seafood and not a lot of binder. Have you ever heard anyone complain that there's too much crab in their crabcakes?

For shrimp cakes, I steam the shrimp until they are still they are underdone, then cut them into small pieces. I mix with a little egg, a little mayo and a little panko. I have also used a white sauce as a binder, and that works pretty well without needing a lot of it. I add minced scallion or sauteed minced shallots; you could add all kinds of seasonings or minced peppers or whatnot, but my preference is to keep it simple. Then I shape them into patties (and it does take patience), press them on both sides into panko for a light coating, then refrigerate for a couple of hours on a cookie sheet. They get sauteed in butter or olive oil gently just until cooked thru and golden-brown on the outside, turned just once, carefully. They are messy to handle but the resulting texture and flavor is worth it.

The idea suggested above of using some amount of mushed raw prawn as a binder for the chopped shrimp or flaked fish is very interesting. It would give the cakes a very different texture and certainly a different flavor if mixed with flaked fish.

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Mmmmm . . . fish cakes. :smile: I use eggs and whatever bread crumbs are handy to keep the patties together. I agree with idea "seafood is the star" and try to add as few adulterants as possible.

Idea: I have been getting many duck eggs this summer and have found the albumen to be extra thick. I've been thinking that it might make an enhanced binder for just this sort of thing, but I haven't got around to trying it out on fish cakes.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I've used scallops and or shrimp as a binder. Just puree into a smooth paste and it will bind the fish very well. Refrigerating makes a big difference as well. Once you chill down the cakes they really hold together well.

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Gelburger is a pretty awesome alternative to gluetaminase that works very unobtrusively with fish cakes/crab cakes. It is thermoreversible and prevents fat cook-out and leakage.

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Gelburger is a pretty awesome alternative to gluetaminase that works very unobtrusively with fish cakes/crab cakes. It is thermoreversible and prevents fat cook-out and leakage.

Interesting....What do you mean it's thermoreversible and what is it made from?

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