Let us eat cakes: Nigel Slater’s salmon, crushed potatoes and watercress fishcakes recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer
I’ll take them soft and coated in emerald-green parsley sauce, crisp shelled and lip smarting with chilli or wasabi, rough with a tangle of shredded potatoes, or flat, walnut-brown and singing with lemongrass and ginger. You can bring them to me rolled in light Japanese breadcrumbs or offer them up with a sesame and soy sauce dip or sandwiched between two halves of a flour-dusted bap.
I have a fondness for the fishcake that goes beyond fashion or fad, that includes haddock for winter, crab for summer, prawns for a party or coley for every day. Those I love most right now are coarse textured, barely held together, made with potatoes that have been crushed rather than creamed, craggy and rough edged. That, and those with a cool, salty dip in which to dunk them.
Salmon cakes with crushed potatoes and watercress
new potatoes 500g
salmon 400g, tail or fillet
black peppercorns 6
bay leaves 2
white-wine vinegar 2 tsp
egg 1, beaten
oil 2 tbsp, olive or groundnut
butter 1 thick slice
Put a medium-sized pan of water on to boil, salt it lightly, then add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes or so until tender. They need to be soft enough to crush easily between your finger and thumb. Drain and set aside.
Place the salmon in a high-sided frying pan or medium-sized saucepan, pour in just enough water to cover the fish, then add the peppercorns, lightly cracked, bay leaves and white-wine vinegar. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so that the water barely bubbles, cover with a lid, and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but keep the lid on.
Crush the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork, pressing lightly, so they form a rough, knobbly, uneven mash. Roughly chop the watercress.