Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Salmon Cakes

Or as my mother used to say, Salmon Croquettes.

It's been a while since I revealed the contents of a can of salmon and lamented my lack of knowledge about how to serve it. Well, readers to this blog sure weren't lamenting. They knew how to eat canned salmon, and eat it they did - in soups, patés, cheese spreads, potato stuffings, and lots of varieties of layered casseroles that, I'm sorry, remind me too much of my more orthodox youth when Saturday afternoons were spent preparing Shepherd's Pie for the nuns. (How they maneuvered in the kitchen with all that flowing habit beats me. Maybe that's why they solicited the help of neighborhood girls - would-be proselytes. It sure couldn't have been to chow down on a meal prepared by a 10-year-old. Heavens, I saw more of the inside of a convent than was healthy for a budding nonsectarian.)

So, no Shepherd's Pies. But the Salmon Cakes had appeal. So I tried them. And I liked them. And here I document them, at least my version of them. (The FRE likes them too, but there's the possibility that any food with "cake" in its description would get his thumb's up.)


1 can (14.75 oz.) salmon, picked through, liquid reserved
    (I like the Wild Alaskan Sockeye Red Salmon)

2 tbsp. minced red onion or shallot
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried cilantro
1/8 tsp. chipotle chile pepper (More if you like it hot)
1/4 tsp. ground onion
1/4 tsp. ground garlic
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
(No salt - the salmon is usually canned with plenty of it)

2 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. light-colored vinegar (apple cider or white wine)
2 tbsp. liquid the salmon was packed in

1 large egg

Whole wheat flour for dredging

High-heat oil for sautéing


1   Remove skin, bones, and other questionable material from salmon, i.e. "pick through".

2   Preheat oven to 400ºF.

3   Toss minced onion and parsley with salmon. Sprinkle the dry spices over the salmon and stir gently.

4   In a separate bowl whisk together oil, garlic, mustard, vinegar, and salmon juice, then toss with salmon. In a separate bowl whisk egg, then toss with salmon.

Note: I try to keep some memory of the flaked fish in my salmon cakes, thus the gentle stirring and tossing.

The addition of the salmon juice keeps the cake moist. The first few times I made these there they were too dry, like a true cake - a la Duncan Hines. I also omit any flour or bread crumbs for the same reason. They're a little more difficult to handle but the result is nicely light and salmony.

5   Divide the salmon batter into 6 or 7 cakes. Gently form into patties.

6   Dredge patties: Using a spatula, slide the moist patty onto a plate of flour, sprinkle some flour over the top, flip a few times in hands to wiggle off excess, and transfer to a clean plate until ready to sauté. It's not necessary to completely coat the patty. It's preferable to just dust either side lightly - you won't end up with uncooked floury edges.

Note: Dredge the patty immediately before placing it into the pan. If it sits, it will absorb the flour coating and the exterior will have less of a crust.

7   Preheat a 10-inch sauté pan over low-to-medium heat. Just before adding the patties drizzle 1 or 2 tbsp. high-heat oil into the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a baking sheet. Finish in a preheated 400ºF oven for 5 minutes.

Note: I serve these with a squeeze of lemon and my yogurt dressing. The FRE scoff's them down. I bask in the notion he's plumping his cells with omega-3 fatty acids.

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