If you do much cooking, you’ll understand this dilemma: Your fridge is dotted with an almost comical assortment of odds and ends. You know, those special ingredients purchased for other recipes, but the recipe only calls 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.
I found myself with about a quarter pound of smoked salmon leftover from when Emily was home (she’s a big fan of bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon), but she wasn’t here long enough to finish it up.
I also happened to have a piece of fresh salmon, that had actually been sitting in the fridge for several days — one of those use or lose it situations…
Forced to make a play, I opted for salmon burgers. Normally, I would use canned salmon, but I thought the combination of fresh and smoked would be even better. I made my own fresh breadcrumbs — which is to say — I took two hot dog buns out of the freezer, let them thaw and ran them through my food processor with some parsley. Hey – the recipe calls for bread — hot dog buns are bread. Don’t get fussy.
Mayonnaise, whole grain dijon mustard and chopped capers along with an egg and the breadcrumbs act as the binding agent.
The most important part is to finely dice the salmon (both fresh and smoked). It’ll make it easier to form the cakes.
I like tartar sauce, but for these stellar cakes, I went with a tangy, herbed aioli. No need to make a special trip to the store, you’ve probably got everything you need in your refrigerator. Mayonnaise? Check. Garlic? Check. Lemon? Check. Hot sauce? Of course.
After the ingredients were combined, I chilled the mixure to make it easier to shape into patties and refrigerated them again to firm up before giving them a dusting of panko breadcrumbs for a crunchy exterior.
As usual, Scott was my
guinea pig taste-tester and he LOVED them. So did I. We didn’t have much dinner conversation that night, just lots of nodding and satisfied grunts.
Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until it’s an “odds and ends” day to make Crunchy Salmon 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 capers chopped
- 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 dill chopped
- 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.
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