April 03, 2007
Spicy Fish Cutlet
One of my earliest food memory is of a 5-6 yr old(me) sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for my mom to finish frying cutlets anxiously. I ate and sometimes fought with my brother for the first one. The first greedy bite almost always lead to a game of hot potato.. too hot to swallow and too good to spit it out. When I finally managed to taste it, I was making A-one signs with my hand to show appreciation. (A-one Sign: Hold your thumb ad forefinger together to form an "o" and raise the other three fingers up.)
Since then, cutlets are a comfort food, fried and spicy, but I need it really straight off the frying pan. Now my son and better half have taken over the baton of loving cutlets, whether its meat or vegetable or fish. And now I like making them than eating them, though I love them if someone else has made them and I am at the receiving end.
The fish cutlets are an oxymoron..fish is good for you, fried is bad for you..:)..but they are so easy to make here, as all the ingredients are straight from the pantry..canned tuna, potatoes, eggs, bread crumbs.. so they get made on a regular basis. My mom doesnt't use the canned tuna for the cutlets as there is a plethora of large fish around her in Calicut. The luxury! This recipe originated with my ma-in-law and now I have adopted it as my own. It is also a good dinner item..Slap it between two slices of bread with some dressing, salad leaves and you have a fish sandwich.
You will need: (Makes 14-16 cutlets)
Light Tuna Cans(in water or oil)- 2
White Potato-2 (Approx. 3 /4 lb)
Onions- 2 medium sized ones
Green chilies- 8 (use less or more as per taste)
Garlic- 2 cloves
Black pepper- 2 tsp
Biryani Masala/Garam masala- ½ tsp (optional)
Lemon juice- 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Coriander/Cilantro leaves- 1 cup washed, dried and chopped finely
Canola Oil- 2-3 tbsp
Egg or 1 Egg white–1
Bread crumbs- 1 cup
1. Chop the onions, garlic and chilies finely into tiny dices. Open the can lid completely and press into the can and drain all the liquid away. If you are using the tuna packed in oil, drain the oil seperately and use half of that for frying the onions. Else use the canola oil.
If you are using fresh fish, use a larger fish such as Salmon, King Fish or Swordfish as they hold up well. Marinate them with a bit of salt and pepper, and place them in a pan with 1 tbsp of oil, covering the pan to steam cook them. Remove the skin and bones, flake the flesh and keep it ready.
2. Heat the oil in a shallow non-stick pan and add all the onions, green chilies and garlic. After a couple of minutes, add the tuna too. Keep stirring and slightly fry the ingredients till the tuna's can smell goes away and the onions reduce in size. Add the garam masala and salt. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Take care not to let the mix stick to the pan and not to add too much oil in the beginning itself. You can always add a bit more if it starts sticking.
3. After 15mins, take the mixture off the flame and add the lemon juice, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning.
4. Meanwhile, wash each of the potatoes, wipe them dry and cover with plastic wrap. Place them in the microwave and adjust the setting for the baked potatoes. All the potatoes can be cooked at the same time. Alternatively, the washed potatoes can be pressure cooked with ½ cup water for a single whistle.
5. Peel the potatoes and mash them with your hands/potato masher or the back of a spoon. There should be no lumps. Add the fish mixture to the potato, and add the chopped coriander leaves and salt. Mix and taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
6. Make lemon sized balls of the mixture and shape it into an oval or round shape.
Beat the egg (You can use just egg whites too) with a pinch of salt. Keep a plate with bread crumbs also ready.
7. Dip each oval ball into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Give it a final shaping. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the cutlets till brown on either side.
This is a slightly time consuming snack and works best in large batches, so I make them and freeze them for the days when we get home from work famished and raid the freezer for anything resembling food or for impromptu guests.
Freezing Tip: After shaping them with the bread crumbs, place them wide apart on a plate or tray and freeze them for at least 12 hrs. They will turn rock solid and will not stick to each other anymore. Then, you can seperate them from the plate and collect all of them in a ziplock freezer safe bag and store in the freezer for upto 2 months. When you need to use them, remove as many as you need, thaw them outside for an hour or microwave them for 20-30 seconds(more or less as per microwave)and then fry as usual.