Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Salmon Cakes



When I was a kid my favorite sandwich was salmon salad on whole wheat. I used to put sweet pickle juice and mayonnaise in it. Yummy! As an adult I have recently rediscovered canned wild caught salmon because it's cheap and delicious and, now I find out, is also a very good choice for those of us concerned about what fish are left that are still OK to eat. The fish chart I posted on this blog a couple of weeks ago lists it as a good choice from an environmental point of view. So, in these tough economic times it's great for multiple reasons! The brand above is the one I usually get and it retails for $2.59 at one of my local grocery stores.

In addition to delicious sandwiches, it's great for a baked pasta casserole, but my favorite thing to make with canned wild caught salmon is salmon cakes. These are easy and can be made in advance and fried up when you want. With some homemade, blender, tarragon mayo and a salad this is a fine meal and certainly one you could make to impress your friends. They don't have to know how easy and inexpensive it is!

Salmon Cakes

Drain, remove skin and bones from two cans of salmon, you want about a pound or so of salmon. An average can is 14 ounces, but once you remove everything, I think it's best to have a little more salmon then a little less. Place in bowl and set aside.

Boil two medium/large potatoes (red skinned are my favorite, they tend to be smaller so if you use them it will be more like 3-4) about 1/2 pound, until they are tender, drain the water and put the potatoes back in the pot and cover, shake for about for 20 seconds to make sure the potatoes are thoroughly dried. When cool enough to touch peel and either mash or pass through a ricer. You want the potatoes to have a nice even consistency.

Add 1 T of butter to the potato mixture, grate about 1/4 t of fresh nutmeg or to taste along with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Always taste everything all the time as you go along so there are no surprises at the end.

Chop two medium onions and saute in two tablespoons of butter for about 8 minutes, the onions should be translucent but not brown. Place in bowl and let cool.

Chop finely 3/4 cup flat parsley (I prefer flat leaf, but in reality it makes no difference) and 1 or 2 T of fresh dill (I like strong flavors so I use herbs generously, again if you are unsure use one and in the final mixture you feel it needs more add more) place in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl incorporate prepared salmon, potato mixture, sauteed onions and herb mixture, add 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk and mix well. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour. This mixture needs to be chilled otherwise it's too soft to make the cakes with.

When ready to form the cakes, before you take the salmon mixture out of the fridge, set up three bowls. In one, place 2 eggs beaten lightly, in another place about a cup or more of flour (I like whole wheat but all purpose is fine) for dredging and in the third bowl 2 cups of bread crumbs (if you want to be fancy you can use Panko, Japanese bread crumbs).

Take the salmon mixture out of the fridge, use a tablespoon measure and roll each into a ball, the cakes will flatten as you go through the process.

First dredge in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs, place finished cakes on a baking sheet covered in parchment or wax paper (please try and find unbleached waxed or parchment). When finished refrigerate for at least an hour or over night (if leaving them over night be sure to cover them).

To cook them melt in a large heavy skillet (cast iron is my favorite): coat the bottom of the pan generously with olive oil and heat over a medium/high flame. The oil should be hot, but not smoking. Add the cakes to the hot oil, careful not to crowd them. You are really just heating them up and browning them as they are already cooked. Turn after 30-60 seconds when the cakes are golden brown.

Serve with a simple salad and a side of tarragon mayo or tarter sauce. Blender mayo is so easy and so much tastier then store bought: add 1 T of chopped tarragon, 1 T of capers, chopped, and a few chopped gherkins if you have them. Or you can top the cakes with sour cream and salmon roe. Fresh lemon juice and salt works well too.

Easy, cheap and delicious. Living well is the best revenge!

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