how inspiration strikes for crunchy salmon cakes:
How often do you find yourself in this situation? Your fridge is full of a weird assortment of disparate odds and ends. You know, those special ingredients purchased for other recipes. But the recipe only called for a portion of that special ingredient and the remnants are now shoved to the back of the fridge. Waiting — searching for inspiration. Like these crunchy salmon cakes.
Which came about because I found myself with leftover fresh and smoked salmon. The” fresh salmon” goes back to the Super Bowl. Remember those incredible Salmon Sliders? For that recipe I had trimmed the salmon into thick squares to fit nicely on the buns – and look pretty in photographs.
I ended up with over a pound of thin and irregularly shaped leftover raw fish. Since I am abhorred to wasting food, I wrapped the odds and ends in plastic wrap and freezer paper and stuck them in the deep freeze until I got an epiphany.
The “smoked salmon” was a more recent leftover from some bruschetta I made for a birthday lunch. Two types of salmon — awaiting a spark of creativity. Hmmm. I considered ceviche (too raw), chowder (out of cream), even pizza (didn’t have the energy to make dough) before settling on salmon cakes.
Scouring the fridge and pantry, I found that I had many of the ingredients I would normally use in crab cakes — and a few I didn’t. So, I cobbled together my hodgepodge of ingredients and got to work.
I leaned toward some french influences in this recipe like briny capers and whole grain dijon mustard. Along with a some lemon zest – they added punches of tanginess to the rich salmon.
A little mayo, eggs and some fresh herbed breadcrumbs rounded out the cakes. And since I like a crispy exterior, a panko coating was necessary.
After the ingredients were combined, I chilled the mixure to make it easier to shape into patties and refrigerated them again to firm up while I assembled a garlicky lemon and dill aioli to go with.
As usual, Scott was my
guinea pig taste-tester and he LOVED them. So did I. The fresh salmon mixed with just a hint of the smoked makes these salmon cakes flavorful without being overpowering. Plus the lemon and dill aioli add a fresh herbal punch that contrasts well with the crunchy cakes.
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh salmon, diced into 1/4" cubes
- 4 ounces smoked salmon, diced into 1/4" cubes
- 1 lemon, zested (divided)
- 2 pieces bread
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup panko, for coating salmon cakes
- 2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil for frying
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- In a bowl, combine the diced salmon and half of the lemon zest. Reserve the other half of the zest for the aioli -- set aside.
- Place the bread and parsley leaves in a small food processor and pulse to make parsley bread crumbs.
- Transfer bread crumbs to the salmon and lightly fold the breadcrumbs and lemon zest into the salmon to evenly distribute.
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, capers, kosher salt and black pepper and stir well.
- Add the mayonnaise mixture and egg to the salmon and fold in well to combine. Chill the salmon for 30 minutes to an hour before continuing.
- Meanwhile prepare the aioli. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, the other half of the lemon zest, dill, lemon juice and hot sauce. Stir to combine and refrigerate.
- Divide the salmon into six equal parts and form patties out of each.
- Place panko in a shallow bowl and place a salmon cake on top, lightly pressing so the panko sticks to the salmon. Flip the salmon cake over and press panko into the other side.
- Place a skillet over medium heat to preheat the pan. (I used a cast iron skillet, but non-stick and regular fry pans work too.) Add a tablespoon of oil - oil should slick across the surface of the pan and moire. Work with no more than 2 salmon cakes at a time. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes. Place one hand on top of the salmon cake and carefully edge a spatula under the cake. Gently turn the cakes over and continue to fry for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set cakes on a tray lined with paper towels. Continue with the other cakes.
- Serve salmon cakes with lemon wedges and top with aioli.