Crimean Fishcakes with Mussel Sabayon and Tomato Compote

Here’s another recipe made with seafood that can be found in Crimea: skate, shrimp and mussels. (See also my Crimean Seafood Orzo). Following Ukrainian cuisine’s propensity for all things ground, the fish and the shrimp are minced to form nice little round patties. The vibrantly yellow mussel sabayon packs a lot of bivalve flavor that complements the fishcakes perfectly.

I served the dish with a green bean puree in the pictures, but in retrospect I think that a mix of spring vegetables would be a better match.

Tomato Compote
Yields about 4 servings

24 oz very ripe tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 oz top-quality olive oil
1/2 tsp star anise
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ketchup
1 tsp basil, finely chopped

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Make cross marks in the tomatoes with a knife, blanch for 30 seconds, then shock in a bowl of ice water. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. Roughly chop the flesh and reserve. Place the seeds and membranes with the salt into a conical sieve over a bowl, and leave for 30 minutes. Mash the contents of the sieve a few times, then discard. Reserve the tomato liquid.
  • Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the star anise and nutmeg. Add the tomato flesh, tomato liquid, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup, then cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil, let cool and reserve.
  • Reheat in a small saucepan just before serving.

Mussel preparation
Yields about 4 servings and 3 oz leftover cooked mussels

1 lb mussels
shrimp shells (optional)
4 oz dry white wine
1 oz sliced onion
green stems from 2 spring onions
4 filaments saffron

  • Clean and rinse the mussels under cold water. Place the mussels and shrimp shells in a pot with the white wine, onion, spring onion stems and saffron. Cover with a lid and cook over high heat until all the mussels are open, shaking the pot regularly. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the mussels from their shells, let cool and refrigerate. Pass the cooking liquid through a chinois and reserve.

Yields 4 servings

8 oz cleaned skate fillet
1 1/2 oz butter
2 oz peeled spring onion, thinly sliced
8 oz peeled Yukon Gold potatoes
8 oz peeled shrimp
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp piment d’espelette

  • Season the skate with salt, and sauté in a hot pan with 1/3 of the butter until golden-brown on both sides. Let cool and reserve.
  • Sauté the spring onion with the rest of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, season with salt and cook until soft. Let cool and reserve.
  • Quarter the potatoes, place in a saucepan with cold water and salt, and cook over medium heat until tender. Pass though a food mill using the finest grate, let cool and reserve.
  • Chop the shrimp very finely and place into a bowl. Shred the skate into the bowl, then add the beaten egg and egg yolk followed by the orange juice, piment d’espelette, spring onion and potato purée. Mix with a rubber spatula just enough to blend all the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Shape the mixture into 10 cakes. In a non-stick pan oven medium heat, sauté each cake with a small piece of butter until brown on both sides. Transfer the cakes to an oven-proof dish, cover with foil, and finish in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes.

Mussel sabayon
Yields 4 servings

4 oz mussel juice
2 oz mussels
2 egg yolks
1 oz butter

  • Process the mussel juice and mussels in a blender until smooth, pass through a chinois and transfer to a double-boiler. Whisk in the egg yolks, and cook the mixture to a ribbon consistency, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat, mix in the butter and serve immediately.


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