This is a dish I included in our takeaway menu a few weeks ago. I realised that I hadn’t made it since the cooking demonstration I gave at VegFest London (The Wild Atlantic Way: Savouring Sea Veg) in November 2019. Which is too long, given that it’s one for my favourites! It’s a real reminder of home (what could be more Irish than potatoes and sea veg?!) but it’s also delicious: a soft potato filling with delicate notes of fresh dill and white miso and a pop of lemon zest, all encased in crispy breadcrumbs. I serve them on a bed of peppery rocket with a dollop of dill and chive sour cream. This is not a dish you can whip up in half an hour as there are too many steps involved, but if you have some time and fancy trying something new, I highly recommend this one. I usually serve this as a starter, but equally you could make a larger potato cake and have it as the centerpiece of your main course.
A few tips before we begin:
1. Do NOT be put off by any preconceived notions you might have about ‘seaweed’. Shouting at my younger self now: IT IS NOT GROSS!, and I’m a bit sad that it took me 30 years to discover how amazing sea vegetables are. They are highly nutritious and a fantastic, sustainable food source. My preferred sea vegetables are kombu and wakame (I use half and half in this recipe), but feel free to experiment with other varieties.
2. You can make the potato cakes up to three days before you need them. They crisp up perfectly in the oven, so there’s no need to worry about frying them at the last minute.
3. It is recommended that you make sour cream at least six hours before you need it to give it time to set.
4. Most importantly – choose a good spud. Floury potatoes make for the best potato cakes, so choose a variety that will give you a nice fluffy mash. Also crucial, do not overcook the potatoes. If your mash potatoes are on the watery side it’s going to be difficult to get your potato cakes to hold together when you combine with the other ingredients, and they’ll just seem a bit ‘wet’. You need to drain the potatoes as soon as they are tender, leave with the lid off for a few minutes to let any excess water evaporate, and then mash them while still steaming hot.
5. Not really a tip, more of an FYI, in this recipe the potato cakes are dipped in a mustard/soya milk mixture, in order to get the breadcrumb coating to stick. You will not taste the mustard in the finished product!
Potato & Sea Vegetable Cakes
50g kombu or wakame (or a combination)
500g mashed potato
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp white miso paste
1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
Zest of two unwaxed lemons, finely chopped
A good crack of black pepper
2 tbsp fresh dill, or 1 tbsp dried dill
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
50ml unsweetened soya milk
Sunflower oil for frying
Place the sea vegetables in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to rehydrate for at least 20 minutes.
Boil and mash the potatoes. (See tip number 4 above!) Set 500g aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, garlic and leeks and sauté for approximately 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
Rinse and drain the sea vegetables and dry off in a clean tea towel.
Roughly chop the sea vegetables – just enough to ensure there are no very long, stringy pieces, and place in the food processor along with the onion mixture, miso paste, lemon zest, salt, pepper and dill. Process until the sea veg is broken down into small pieces.
Combine the sea veg mixture and the mashed potato in a large bowl. Taste and add seasoning if needed. Refrigerate for an hour or so (it will be easier to work with when it has been chilled for a while).
Put the mustard into a small bowl. Gradually add the soya milk, stirring constantly as the milk thickens. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl.
Use your hands to form the potato cakes, and one by one, dip them into the milk/mustard mixture – shaking gently to remove any excess – and then roll in the breadcrumbs until covered on all sides.
Cover the base of a frying pan with sunflower oil and put on a medium heat. When the pan is hot, carefully slide the potato cakes into the pan. Fry on each side for 4-7 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
Serve warm with rocket or mixed leaves and dill and chive sour cream – recipe to follow!
Dill and Chive Sour Cream
100g cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least one hour
100ml unsweetened soya milk
2 tsp red wine vinegar
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
60ml coconut oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
Rinse the cashew nuts and drain off any excess water. Place in a blender with the soya milk, vinegar and salt. Process until smooth.
Place the olive oil, coconut oil and crushed garlic into a small saucepan over a low heat.
Remove from the heat as soon as the coconut oil has melted and the garlic starts to become fragrant (the garlic should not begin to brown).
Pour the garlic, olive oil and melted coconut oil into the blender and process along with the cashew cream until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped herbs.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill.