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Tinapa (smoked fish) and mashed potato cakes



Tinapa (smoked fish) and mashed potato cakes

I have to admit that when the weather is unfriendly, my brain goes on vacation. The humidity today was so suffocating and my creative juices just fizzled and dried up. Oh, I did cook. The food was fine — at least I managed that. But the photos I took of everything I cooked today? Totally unusable for blogging purposes. Someone told me once that if you stare at photos of “cold” places long enough, you’ll start feeling the cold. I tried it, scouring the web for winter scenes, stared and stared at them, and it didn’t work.

So, here is something from the archive, originally published two years ago. Comfort food re-defined. Bits of smoked fish are mixed with mashed potatoes, formed into patties and lightly fried in butter. The browned crisp exterior is a wonderful contrast to the soft center. The smoky aroma and flavor are delightful and the presentation is beautiful in all its simplicity.

There is a similar dish in the archive using spicy bottled sardines but the potato cake was much larger — as large as the frying pan. The sardines were too oily and the mashed potatoes turned a bit too mushy and the cake did not turn out to be as crisp as I’d like.

By using tinapa (smoked fish — milkfish, in this case), no excess oil went into the potatoes. And by making the cakes smaller (i.e., single serve), it was easier to flip them in the pan to brown both sides evenly until nice and crisp. The smoky-salty flavor made the potato cakes much, much tastier too.

Tinapa (smoked fish) and mashed potato cakes

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Connie Veneracion


  • 1 whole boneless tinapa (smoked milkfish)
  • 2 to 2 and 1/2 mashed potatoes (just potatoes — no butter, no milk, no seasoning)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 8 tablespoons butter for fying
  • fried eggs sunny side up
  • onion leaves finely sliced
  • garlic bits toasted
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  • Peel off the skin of the smoked fish. Discard the head and tail. Break the flesh into small pieces. I don’t recommend flaking — it’s much nicer to have discernible pieces of fish in the potato cakes.
  • Mix together the smoked fish and mashed potato. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the beaten egg.
  • Divide the mixture into four portions. Form each portion into a patty about three-quarters of an inch thick.
  • Heat a frying pan. Melt 1 tsp. of butter. Fry one potato cake at a time. To brown both sides evenly, scoop the cake with a spatula and melt another teaspoonful of butter before flipping. It’ll take about three to four minutes over medium-high heat to brown each side.
  • To serve: Place one potato cake on a plate. Top with a fried egg. Sprinkle with onion leaves and toasted garlic bits.
  • It’s a very filling and very tasty breakfast or brunch dish. But, if you like, you can have bread on the side.
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Tinapa (smoked fish) and mashed potato cakes