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.
Crunchy Salmon Cakes
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh salmon diced into 1/4" cubes
- 4 ounces smoked salmon diced into 1/4" cubes
- 1 lemon divided, zested
- 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.