Saturday, October 27, 2012

The 2nd Annual Great Greely Fishcake Throwdown

The gloves were off at the second Annual Great Greely Fishcake Throwdown and these multitude of bare hands were moulding together delicious fish patties. This year there were eight entrants, about half of which were returning competitors along with the reigning champion. As the guests came round, I greeted the two judges from last year and we proceeded to sit down at the bar to begin our tasting.

(Note: This year it was held on a Sunday so we had to quickly leave afterwards as we had to head back to Montréal. Lots of details were unfortunately never discovered for me, though I am told that there will be a recipe list for all of these fish cakes coming soon.)

When the first dish came down and all I could smell was the fragrant aroma of Tandoori, I knew we were in for something good this year. I could feel the competition in the air. It was on.
Tandoori Fishcake with a Yogurt Raita sauce and a red cabbage slaw
I loved this dish before even tasting it. I was entranced by the smell and couldn't wait to state eating! Everything on the plate went so well together. The tandoori spice went so well with the raita sauce while the slaw was sweet, sour and spicy. Excellent combination.

The next fish cake also followed an Indian theme. It smelled of more delicious spices and we were all excited about the prospect of tuna. We thought how exciting it was that someone had purchased some expensive tuna and how lucky we all were to have been here.
Spicy Tuna with Raita Sauce

This one was super delicious too and it had a bit more of a kick than its Tandoori competitor. Although being quite a good fish cake, I couldn't quite put my finger on a certain taste that the fish had to it. I later found out that the secret behind the recipe was canned tuna and we three judges were quite impressed with how good it tasted.

Down came the third cake, our wine glasses having been drained by about half. We were told by the runner that it was called "Fish Cake with Apple Fennel Salad and Chipotle Mayo"

Fish Cake with Apple Fennel Salad and Chipotle Mayo
We could taste the smoked salmon right away and also that the mayo was home made. The outside of the fish cake had a crispy layer of panko bread crumbs which gave it that extra crunch into a tender, smokey center. If anything, I would say that the chipotle mayo could have used more of a kick but what do I know? Apparently I made pizza sauce too spicy for my students once.

We sampled a Salmon fish cake with Aioli next. It was a lemony mayonnaise sauce. This fish cake looked and tasted like a straight up salmon fish cake. It was an honest, yummy fish cake.
Salmon with Aioli
"Scruncheons" or "Scrunch-ons" were proudly featured on this Salted Cod Fish Cake with Green Tomato Salsa. What's a scruncheon you might ask? I never actually asked myself but they seemed to be crispy lardons. This was particularly funny because I told my uncle last night that it would be awesome if someone had done a fish cake with bacon.

I loved this home made salsa! It was sweet, almost relish-like with large pieces of tomato that went very well with the salty lardons which I ate all of! Unfortunately, the fish cake we got was more potato than salted cod so there wasn't much of a fish flavour to it. Alas! After the judging, I tried one from the rest of the batch and it had that nice salted cod flavour to it.

Number six was a Ginger Salmon with Fresh Dill, lots of it! I'm a fan of ginger (though really, what am I not a fan of?) so this was interesting to me. It was accompanied with a sweet jelly of sorts, though I never found out what the actual ingredient was.

Ginger Salmon and Dill
I enjoyed the ginger flavour but it was quite strong and overpowered the delicate flavour of the salmon. I think it could work though, and it's quite inspiring.

Number seven was a combo of Salmon and White Fish with Horse Radish. Yes, Horse Radish, who doesn't love some good horse radish? Here I go again sounding like I can't get enough from sauces but I couldn't taste any horse radish, no kick to my face. I think that's what I expected but I realize that it could overpower the flavour of the fish.
Salmon and White Fish with Horse Radish
In terms of flavour, this cake was excellent. I didn't know that a combination of fish would taste so great. One of the other judges described it by saying that she could taste and feel the sea when eating this cake. What better feeling could be invoked by a fish cake?

Last but of course not least, Southwestern Salmon with Avocado and Creme Fraiche. So I think I was wrong about what I wanted in a fish cake, I think I want bacon and avocado. Wait, maybe I have my entry for next year...

Southwestern Salmon with Avocado and Creme Fraiche
This fish cake was nice, and the avocado went just great with the salmon. It's ok, I didn't expect more kick from the avocado sauce! 

So, after all this hard work, who won? You've read this far, you deserve to know. Wait, you didn't just skip to the end did you? It was a VERY difficult decision, as I hope you can see from all these pictures, they were all excellent! Unfortunately we had to pick and after much deliberation we came up with the top 3 fish cakes:

1st: The Smoked Salmon Fish Cake with Apple Fennel & Chipotle Mayo (Cake #3)
2nd: Spicy Tuna with Indian Raita Sauce (#2)
3rd: Tandoori Tilapia with that delicious Spicy Slaw and Raita Sauce (# 1)

So, Uncle Don did not win this year, but he placed 2nd. I believe the judges decided that the reigning champion was allowed to defend their title. If they successfully defend, then they may keep it up next year, but if not, they must judge! But wait, if that happens, I might have to enter...