Recipe: Smoked fish balls with basil & pea pesto

Fill your mouth with beautiful flavours, the pesto will cut through the smokey fish to make a perfect mouthful.
Tamara West

Fill your mouth with beautiful flavours, the pesto will cut through the smokey fish to make a perfect mouthful.

Makes 12 / Preparation 1 hour / Cooking 12 minutes

Don't be shy to play around with the smoked fish in this recipe – I often include three varieties for depth and flavour.

For the smoked fish balls
800g Agria potatoes, peeled, quartered
⅓ teaspoon cayenne pepper
400g hot smoked salmon
400g smoked kahawai
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
⅓ cup grated parmesan
⅓ cup good-quality egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons American mustard
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 cups coarse breadcrumbs
2 eggs

1.5 litres high-smoke-point cooking oil, such as sunflower
greens to serve – I used a mix of salad greens including NZ spinach and NZ watercress (matangaoa)

Cover the potatoes in cold water and season well with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain well and return the potatoes to the hot pan to dry out. Mash well with a potato masher, season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the cayenne pepper and set aside to cool.

Flake the smoked fish into a large bowl and add the zest, parsley, parmesan, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir to combine then add the mashed potato and stir well. Roll into 12 large balls. 

Mix the panko crumbs with the coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Dip each ball into the egg and coat again in the crumbs. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and chill for at least an hour (and up to 6). 

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry about three fish balls at a time for 2-3 minutes or until golden, drain and put in the oven until all the fish balls are cooked, then give them an extra minute in the oven to ensure they're heated all the way through. Serve each fish ball on a few fresh greens, topped with a dollop of basil and pea pesto.


Basil & pea pesto (makes 1¼ cups)
1 cup frozen peas
2 big handfuls (50g) fresh basil 
⅓ cup grated parmesan 
⅓- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
⅓ cup pine nuts
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon

Cover the peas with boiling water and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Drain well and put in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and whiz until as smooth as you like. Keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

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