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Saturday 30 November 2013

Fishcake Roundup

I have a funny relationship with fishcakes.

And when I say "funny", I mean either they're completely underwhelming or they make me unwell.

But, what's important here is that I don't let that put me off fishcakes. I keep trying them. And so, here's a post about a pair options from The Saucy Fish Co's new range of 'Saucy Centres' fishcakes!

Salmon and Hollandaise
Described as 'Succulent salmon and cod with a creamy Hollandaise sauce bound up with real mash in a crumbly golden coating', these weren't so much underwhelming as a clear disappointment. First off, the ratio of salmon to cod is very much in favour of the cod, almost to the point where it's pretty misleading to call them 'Salmon and Hollandaise Fishcakes'. Even the image on the box shows very little salmon in comparison to the rest of the filling. Worse than that, though, the cod plays second fiddle to the mash. Granted, that's par for the course with fishcakes these days - what was once included for binding purposes has become almost the main ingredient, simply because it makes them cheaper to produce.

The worst aspect of this fishcake is the Hollandaise sauce. I have to confess that I bought the two different kinds of fishcake listed here at the same time, and wasn't really paying attention when I decided to cook these ones first. I knew one had a cheesy sauce and, to be honest, when I was eating these, I assumed I was experiencing one of the most disappointing cheese sauces I've ever encountered. It was only later, when I looked at the packaging again, that I found I had experienced the most flavourless Hollandaise sauce I've ever encountered.

These are a great idea, but the lack of the alleged prime ingredient pretty much ruins the execution.

Smoked Haddock and Davidstow Cheddar
The moment I opened the package, I knew I was dealing with smoked haddock - the aroma is unmistakeable... and reminded me how much I enjoy smoked haddock. Just like the salmon version above, the packaging doesn't show off a mass of haddock pieces and, sadly, the photograph is accurate. Once cooked, the smell of haddock is dramatically reduced, and the flavour is all but overwhelmed by the mash.

When I wrote about The Saucy Fish Co's basic packaged smoked haddock fillet with Davistow cheddar sauce, I noted that the sauce was disappointingly light on apparent cheese flavour. There was some improvement in these fish cakes - the sauce does add to the experience, but it's still nothing special.

Again, it feels like these were made to fit a very strict budget, with mashed potato being the main constituent. It is great mash, but it should only be there to bind the fishcake together, not as a cheap filler.

My area doesn't offer a great range of Saucy Fish Co. products and, while none of the options I've tried have been outright terrible, some of them have been quite disappointing. I like the idea of a piece of fish coming packaged with its ideal accompanying sauce, but when that sauce is underwhelming, the whole product suffers. Their fish fillets can be a little on the small size, but the fish content of these fishcakes is shamefully low, and neither sauce really added a great deal to the experience.

There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment of putting sauce inside a product (did it start with the likes of Gü puddings, or were similar things available before they sprang up? Could it perhaps be said that these fishcakes were inspired by jam doughnuts?) and, while I like the idea - because it generally means less mess when cooking, unless the product splits open - the end result never quite meets the expectation.

On the upside, neither of these fishcakes ended up making me ill, so they have restored a small measure of my faith in fishcakes...

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