Fish & Seafood

Spicy fish and potato pancake

The idea was inspired by the Swiss (or is it German?) rösti, a potato pancake that was originally peasant fare but is now served in restaurants all over the world.

The spiciness of this fish and potato pancake comes from the oil-soaked tawilis (a variety of small fish that can only be found in Taal Lake).

Tawilis is not a requirement for this dish though, you can substitute any cooked fish, good quality sardines or even anchovies and come up with equally satisfying results. What you’re aiming for is a soft pancake with a crisp crust, seasoned to complement whatever fish you’re using.

But if you are using tawilis, note that they come in “hot” and regular varieties. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, simply substitute the regular variety.

You can serve the fish and potato pancake by itself or accompanied with vegetables. We had the pancakes with blanched and lightly buttered asparagus.


  • about 700 g. of potatoes, washed and scrubbed
    an 8-oz. jar of tawilis (or sardines) in oil, drained, oil reserved
    about2 tbsps. of butter
    a small bunch of herbs (I used basil but feel free to substitute whatever you prefer)


  1. Boil the potatoes until soft. I cut mine into quarters to shorten the cooking time.

    Place the hot potatoes in a bowl and mash. Add about a tablespoonful of butter to the potatoes and mix lightly. Take about two tablespoonfuls of the spicy oil from the jar of tawilis and add to the potatoes. Stir to mix in the oil. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

    Roughly chop the herbs and add to the potatoes. Mix together to make herbed mashed potatoes.

    Melt the remaining butter in a pan together with an equal amount of spicy oil from the jar.

    Take half of the mashed potatoes and spread on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the fish on top of the potatoes. Include (or exclude) spices from the jar.

    Cover the fish with the remaining mashed potatoes. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the edges turn brown.

    Place a plate over the pancake and invert. Take another plate, place over the pancake on the first plate and invert again. Then, place the pan over the pancake on the second plate and invert once more. Return the pan to the stove to brown the opposite side. Why too many plates and the multiple inversions? Because the unbrowned side of the pancake won’t slide off the plate easily to return it to the pan.

    When both sides of the pancake are nicely browned, place a plate over the pan and invert. Cool the pancake for about 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve. A side dish of vegetables is optional.

    You can ditch the cooling time if you prefer to serve the pancake in one piece.

Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: lunch

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