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- Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C.
- Place your fish in a baking dish and season generously with sea salt and a crack of freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely in the dish.
- Take four circular or square tart tins (ideally approx. 9cm in diameter to create the perfect shape) and line each one with cling film, making sure you leave some overhanging.
- Using two forks, gently flake the cooked fish (use this opportunity to also search for any errant bones), then pack it into the lined tins, pressing down firmly. Alternatively, you could freestyle this if you don’t have suitable tins and just shape the fish into four rough circles or squares on four separate pieces of cling film.
- Cover tightly with the cling film overhang and freeze until solid (about 2–3 hours). You can leave these in the freezer for longer though and continue with the next steps when you’re ready.
- Heat the oil in your deep-fryer to 160°C. Take the frozen fish burgers out of the freezer.
- Prepare your pané station with three separate wide, shallow dishes: one for the flour with a little seasoning added to it, another for the beaten egg and the third for a combined mixture of the panko and fine breadcrumbs.
- Take a frozen fish patty (which should be firm and holding its shape) and dredge it through the flour, shaking off any excess, then dunk it in the beaten egg to coat. Finally, bathe it in its breadcrumb bath, ensuring it emerges in an even coating.
- Working with one burger at a time or in batches depending on the size of your fryer basket, place each burger into the basket, gently lower it into the hot oil and fry for approximately 5 minutes. Lift the basket up from the oil and allow to drain as you crank the fryer up to 190°C.
- When the oil has come up to temperature, lower the fish burger into the oil for a second fry for only 60 to 90 seconds to ensure a glorious even golden brown and crisp exterior. Place on a wire rack set over a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil and top each burger with a square of the cheese while it’s still piping hot.
- To assemble, lightly grill or gently toast the burger buns. Spread a generous tablespoon or two of tartare sauce on the base bun, top with the still-warm cheese- crowned fish burger (and some shredded iceberg lettuce and finely diced or sliced white onion if you like) and follow with the bun lid. Savour immediately. You may even pine for a second burger – we always do.
Recipe taken from Blasta Books #2: Hot Fat by Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon
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