Oamaru Cooks — Seared Salmon Cakes

Stephen Le Corre and his Salmon

The 14th Annual Oamaru Wine & Food Festival took place this past Sunday at the Oamaru Public Gardens. One of the highlights of the event is the opportunity to watch some of the area’s leading chefs demonstrate some of their signature dishes. The first demonstration was by Stephen Le Corre, Captain of the NZ Culinary Team and tutor at the Aoraki Polytechnic, who prepared one of the most ambitious dishes of the day, producing “Seared salmon on smoked fish cake with spicy potted shrimps, served with wilted spinach and basil butter sauce”. Each element of this dish was prepared at the portable kitchen in windy and chilly conditions, using unfamiliar (to him) equipment. But the resulting dish was excellent and one that anyone could reproduce at home to impress their family or friends.

If you’re interested in making the dish, here’s the recipe, courtesy of Chef Stephen and the Aoraki Polytech:

Seared salmon (4 portions)

  • 4 140-g salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 30ml oil
  • 20g butter
  1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan then add the salmon.
  3. Fry for 3-4 minutes then turn and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Drain and serve.

Potted shrimps (4 portions)

  • 80g peeled, deveined prawns
  • 30g butter
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch ground mace
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch paprika
  1. Gently fry the spices in butter.
  2. Add prawns and gently warm through.

Basil butter sauce (4 portions)

  • 125ml water
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • 50g shallot, finely chopped
  • 200g butter, diced, cool
  • 5mls lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped basil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Reduce the water, vinegar and shallots to about two tablespoons.
  2. Cool slightly and gradually whisk in the butter cubes until creamy.
  3. Whisk in the lemon juice and season to taste.
  4. Pass the sauce through a sieve and then stir in the basil.

NOTE: Do not overheat or the sauce will split.

Smoked fish (Yield: 200g)

  • 225g white fish fillets
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 20g brown sugar
  • 10g sea salt
  • 2 tbs manuka chips
  1. Brush the fillets of fish in lemon juice and then coat with brown sugar and salt. Leave to stand in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Place a layer of foil in the base of a pan and top with the manuka chips and then another layer of foil.
  3. Rinse fillets under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towel then place on a wire rack above the wood chips.
  4. Seal the pan with foil and pierce a small hole then place over a medium heat. Cook until the smoke has stopped and the fish fillets are firm.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Smoked Fish Cakes  (4 portions)

250g floury potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
200g smoked fish, flaked
2 spring onions, cut in 1-cm lengths
1 tsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
25ml oil
25ml butter
100g flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g fresh bread crumbs

  1. Mix the fish, mashed potatoes, herbs, mustard, onions and seasoning.
  2. Split into four even sized cakes and shape with a little flour.
  3. Coat with flour, egg and bread crumbs.
  4. Fry the fish cakes in butter and oil until golden and heated through.

Wilted Spinach (4 portions)

  • 250g fresh spinach, washed and stalk removed
  • 1⁄4 lemon, juiced
  • 40g olive oil
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pan until very hot.  Add the spinach and seasoning, then turn until just wilted.
  2. Squeeze over the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
  3. Drain excess moisture and serve.
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