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Special cassava fish cakes

Geraldine Panapasa
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Joseph Mallam (pictured) may be the youngest king contestant for the Vodafone Hibiscus festival this year but he is no stranger to cooking.

The 20-year-old had so many ideas about what to cook for modern day youths and he came up with a quick and easy recipe anyone can make any time of the day.

His specialty is cassava fish cakes or patties garnished with fresh vegetables although he can make a tasty chicken curry and stir fry chicken with vegetables among other things.

Sponsored by Apco Paint, Joseph's scrumptious cassava fish cakes were off the hook and I am not just saying that because he is one of the contestants.

Normally, cassava fish cakes taste more of cassava or fish but Joseph has a way of mixing the finest and simplest ingredients that takes the taste of patties to a whole new level.

Born and bred in Suva, Joseph has blood ties as far as Saudi Arabia where his father is originally from and Nadovia in Rewa from his mother's side.

The older of twins by two minutes, Joseph attended primary school at Marist before continuing his secondary education until Form Seven at Marist Brothers' High.

"I've been cooking since I was little. I used to watch and help my mother out in the kitchen whenever I could," he said.

"When I got into high school, all the boys had to participate in this program called education for life. After exams when we were still in junior grades, we were taught how to cook, sew and work in the plantation.

"The cassava fish cakes are one of the best ways to make use of left over cassava or dalo.

"We usually make this at home after Sundays where we have a lot of left over cassava. The ingredients used like chilli, coriander, tomato and cassava are grown in our backyard so it's a bit easy to make because the ingredients are available."

Along with his identical twin Jason who is working in New Zealand, Joseph is the youngest in a family of five siblings.

A fulltime bartender and waiter at Bad Dog cafÚ along Victoria parade in Suva, Joseph has his sights on making the most of what life has to offer and he is aiming to start off with helping the disadvantaged in society.

He started working at the cafÚ since Form Five juggling both academic studies and social commitments. Managing both well, Joseph can do just about anything he sets his mind on. In fact, Joseph has the whole package going from deputy head boy in primary school to high school achievements including being a basketball and athletics rep, president of Saint Vincent de Paul Society, being part of the oratory and debate teams and editor of the school magazine last year.

"I want to be a doctor because I love helping people. I am planning on furthering my education at the Fiji School of Medicine or Nursing.

"I came back to Fiji in March this year and was asked by the organising committee to enter the festival.

"I wasn't sure and eventually I agreed to take part. Preparations have been hectic but the experience is worthwhile." With his aim to help the disadvantaged namely street boys, prostitutes and senior citizens, Joseph has a handful of determination and perseverance to achieve whatever he has planned.

How to make it

Mashed cassava and fish cakes

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 people


Mashed or grated cassava/ dalo

Soya bean oil

2 cloves crushed garlic/ 1 tsp garlic powder

2 medium sized diced chillies

Pinch of salt and pepper


2 egg whites

Mashed tuna or boiled fresh fish


* Drain oil from tin of tuna and mash separately from cassava;

* Add crushed garlic, chillies or garlic powder to remove fish smell from mashed tuna.

* Add salt, pepper and coriander. Mix with mashed or grated cassava.

* Add egg whites depending on quantity of servings.

* The egg whites will hold the ingredients together.

* Mould the ingredients into cakes or patties

* Heat a little oil in a frying pan and shallow fry cakes until golden brown and crispy.

* Keep turning cakes until satisfied.

Finishing touch:

Place cassava fish cakes on a plate with a drop of mayonnaise or tomato sauce to taste.

Garnish with sliced cucumber, carrots, tomato, chillies and greens.

Serve with a cool beverage or a nice cup of tea.

Best eaten as soon as it is cooked.

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