Russian Fish Cakes Recipe
Russian Fish Cakes, also known as "Rybnik" in Russian cuisine, are delicious and versatile patties made with finely chopped fish and seasoned with various ingredients. These fish cakes have a long history in Russian culinary tradition and continue to be a popular dish today.
It is believed that fish dishes have been a significant part of Russian cuisine since ancient times due to the country's abundant water resources. Fish cakes were originally created as a way to utilize different types of fish, particularly those that were fatty and not ideal for eating on their own. By chopping the fish finely and combining it with other ingredients, it could be transformed into a tasty and satisfying meal.
One of the great things about Russian Fish Cakes is their versatility. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer or served as a main course with salad or side dishes. The recipe we will be following today calls for three pounds of fish, such as weakfish, carp, pickerel, haddock, or whitefish. These fish are chosen for their meatiness and ability to hold together when formed into patties.
To begin, remove the skin and bones from the fish and finely chop the flesh. You can use a food processor for this step if desired, but make sure not to overprocess the fish, as the texture is an essential aspect of these fish cakes. Finely mince or grate a good-sized onion and add it to the chopped fish. Create a depression in the center of the fish mixture and pour in three-quarters cup of water, half a cup of soft bread crumbs, salt, pepper to taste, a quarter cup of sugar, two egg whites, and two tablespoons of melted butter.
Next, chop the mixture until it becomes very smooth. This step is crucial for achieving the right consistency for the fish cakes. The mixture should hold together well, but still have some texture. Once the mixture is smooth, form it into patties, containing a generous tablespoonful of the mixture for each cake.
In a large saucepan, place the fish bones and skins, along with an onion sliced and a tablespoon of butter. Add the fish cakes on top of the bones and skins. Cover everything with water and simmer gently for about one and a quarter hours. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together and infuse the fish cakes with rich taste.
After simmering, remove the fish cakes from the pan and strain off the gravy into a separate bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat two egg yolks and one teaspoon of sugar together. Gradually pour the strained gravy into the egg mixture while stirring constantly. Place this mixture back on low heat and continue stirring until thickened. Be careful not to let it boil, as the eggs may curdle.
Finally, pour the thickened gravy over the fish cakes, and they are ready to be served. Russian Fish Cakes can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on personal preference. The gravy adds a delightful richness to the cakes, but if desired, you can omit the butter and sugar from the recipe.
Russian Fish Cakes are a unique and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with various side dishes. They can be served with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, or even as a filling for sandwiches or wraps. The delicate texture and delicious taste of these fish cakes make them a delightful addition to any meal.
If you enjoy Russian Fish Cakes, you may also appreciate other similar dishes from around the world. For example, in Thai cuisine, there is a popular dish called Tod Mun Pla, which translates to "Thai fish cakes." These flavorful patties are made with minced fish, red curry paste, and spices, then deep-fried until crispy. They are often served with a sweet chili sauce for dipping.
In Scandinavian cuisine, particularly in Sweden, there is a traditional dish called Fiskbullar, meaning "fish balls." These fish balls are made with finely chopped fish, onions, and potatoes, formed into small round balls, and served with a creamy dill sauce. They are commonly enjoyed as part of a traditional Swedish smorgasbord.
In conclusion, Russian Fish Cakes are a delightful and versatile dish that holds a special place in Russian cuisine. The combination of finely chopped fish, onions, and various seasonings creates a delicious and satisfying patty that can be enjoyed for any occasion. Whether served hot or cold, these fish cakes are sure to impress with their unique flavors and textures.