It’s been a little over a week since I admitted my overwhelm and put up a picture of rhubarb. The book manuscript has made great strides since then and I’ve pulled myself together enough that I actually have something to say here! Oh glorious day.
I’m writing about salmon cakes (or patties, depending on your preferred nomenclature) today. They’re not the most glamorous of foods, but they are delicious, can often be made with just what’s in your fridge and pantry, and they make some of the best and most flavorful leftovers I know. And when you’re six days away from a deadline, meals that produce leftovers are absolutely key.
I’ve been making these cakes for the last four or five years, ever since my neighbor Lucille knocked on our door one evening and asked if we liked salmon cakes. She had made a full batch thinking her daughter was coming over for dinner, but she had gotten the night wrong. Would we like some?
Up until that point, I didn’t have much of an opinion about salmon cakes but I love eating food other people have prepared (because no matter how much I change up the spices, my food somehow always tastes like my food) and so I happily accepted Lucille’s salmon cakes. We ate them for dinner that night and decided that salmon cakes should be a regular player in our dinner routine.
I asked Lucille for her recipe and made them just once as written. I’ve since tweaked and altered the recipe enough that I feel comfortable calling it mine.
One of the things I really love about these salmon cakes is that they are best made with canned salmon. If you’ve never worked with the canned stuff before, be prepared for the fact that the filets will come out of the cans with some skin and bones remaining.
I handle this by spreading the drained filets (if you have a cat, save them the liquid and they will love you forever) out on a plate and using a fork to remove the skin and the biggest bits of the bones. It’s fine to leave the tiny pin bones behind because they’ve been cooked to the point of crumbling and are a good source of calcium.
Once you’ve picked through the salmon, it’s just a matter of chopping a few things, breaking a couple eggs, and mashing it all together. The cakes are fragile and it won’t seem possible that they’ll hold together, but once you get the first side nice and browned, they will flip and hold their shape nicely.
Normally we eat these cakes as-is, but last night just as we were sitting down to eat, my husband asked, “Do we have any relish?”
Now, if you know me, you’ll know to be amused by that remark. Of COURSE we have relish. I pulled out a jar of last summer’s batch of this cucumber and green pepper relish. He stirred a forkful into a generous dollop of mayonnaise for a slapdash tartar sauce. We ate our cakes over greens with Scott’s sauce and all felt right with the world.
A note: I use parmesan cheese in these cakes instead of the more traditional bread crumbs. The reason for that is that Scott is often on a low carb diet. Plus, the parmesan melts a little during cooking and helps hold the cakes together really nicely. However, if you want to reduce the amount of fat in these cakes or make them a little more affordable, feel free to use bread crumbs. Just make sure to add some salt. I don’t use any because the cheese adds plenty.
- 2 14.75 ounce cans of salmon
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup minced celery
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1/3 cup chopped dill pickles
- 1 teaspoon dried dill a big handful of fresh minced dill would be good instead, if you have it
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for browning
- Combine all the ingredients and mix well with a fork.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Begin forming small, relatively thin patties (think 3-4 inches in diameter), gently laying them one by one into the hot skillet. If they crumble, use your spatula to shove them back together.
- Cook until they're nicely browned on one side (if they seem to be browning too fast, reduce the heat) and carefully flip them. I sometimes use the two spatula technique to help the turn without breaking.
- Once they're browned on both sides and heated through, they are done. With this size batch, I typically end up filling my skillet twice before I've cooked them all.
- Serve hot, warm or cold.