Ghana-style fish cakes (and Fish Balls) make a delicious snack and a great party appetizer. They can also be served as a unique breakfast or brunch item.
1½poundsfresh fish or leftover cooked fish (such as red snapper, grouper, halibut), flaked (about 2cups)
½teaspoondried ground red pepper (or to taste)
½teaspoonsalt (or to taste)
1teaspoonfish spice (such as Indian fish masala or curry powder)
¼cup finely grated or minced onion (optional)
¼cup well-packed breadcrumbs (preferably made from white slightly stale bread), or cooked and mashed African yam
Oil for frying (not red palm oil)
Cook fish (if not using leftover)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of a baking pan and grease the foil lightly. Wash the fish and season with salt and black or red pepper, and place the fish in the baking pan and roast until barely cooked, about 20 minutes, or until it flakes easily. Remove from the oven and allow the fish to cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and all the bones and discard; flake the fish.
Assemble fish cakes
Put 2 cups of flaked fish in a bowl and mash it with a fork or your fingers or a wire whisk until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the ground red pepper, salt, fish spice, onion (if using), and egg (if using) and mix thoroughly. Add the breadcrumbs or mashed yam and mix again. Add just enough water to allow the patties to hold together (about 1/8 to ¼ cup).
Put a piece of waxed paper onto the work surface, and put about 2 tablespoons of the fish mixture on it. Using the blade of a table knife, flatten it into a patty about ½ inch thick and 2 inches square. These patties are quite delicate, but should hold together. Continue forming patties with the rest of the mixture.
Cook fish patties
Put ¼ to ½inch of oil in a large heavy frying pan and heat it for about 5 minutes to a medium-high temperature of about 375 degrees F. Carefully lift a fish patty using a pancake turner or spatula and slide it into the oil using a spoon or knife or another spatula. Repeat until the pan is filled with as many patties as will fit in without crowding. It will only take a couple of minutes for them to brown on one side. Gently turn the patties over with a slotted spatula. When browned on both sides, put them on paper towels to cool and soak up any excess oil.