I used to hate salmon. Not like “I sort of disliked it, didn’t really care for it,” kind of hate. No, it was definitely more like “I loathed it with a passion greater than life itself,” kind of hate. It was one of my biggest fears, if not the biggest. My worst nightmare come true. Whenever I’d see salmon I’d go into a fit of rage. Uncontrollable anger would swell up deep inside of me, in the pit of my stomach, that of which you cannot even begin to fathom. It truly would be a scary sight to see. I’d sooner eat liver and onions than eat salmon, and that’s saying something because have you tried beef liver before? It’s not the tastiest thing on earth, to put it nicely. I’d throw tantrums, push people out of the way and flip a table over (Real Housewives style) because I did not want to eat salmon. And that was just last week. Now, seven days later, and about twenty salmon cakes in, I am a believer. Salmon is my new obsession. Hey Salmon, hey! Where have you been my entire life? Let’s be best friends for life. Call me every five minutes.
Maybe it’s all the delicious flavor in these salmon cakes? Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m eating savory cakes (yeah, that’s cool) that appeals to me? I’m not sure but whatever it is, I wasn’t living before now. My eyes were closed and these cakes have opened them. I only wish I had discovered salmon cakes a long time ago. Think of all the tables that could have been saved in the process, but most importantly, think of all the salmon I could have been eating. All that salmon I missed out on. Is it weird that the best part of this recipe wasn’t the salmon itself, but the creamy dill sauce instead? I mean, talk about something you can get addicted to. Be weary my friends. I think you might need a support group on hand, after you try it for yourself.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I know it was definitely the creamy dill sauce that has made salmon not so scary for me. The fear and anger is gone, replaced now with a yearning for salmon this and salmon that. I owe dill sauce my entire life, so much so that I’ll have to name my first child Dill Sauce. Don’t laugh, it’s happening. In the meantime, let’s just be content with eating nothing but salmon cakes, drenched in creamy dill sauce for the remainder of my life. Or until I find a new obsession, whichever comes first. If you need me, I’ll definitely NOT be in the kitchen, head in the fridge eating cold salmon cakes with dill sauce all over my face. That’s totally not me, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
There are a few (more than a few, if I’m being honest) steps to this dish, but I promise you it’s nothing you can’t handle. I won’t throw all these fancy terms and techniques at you. I think we had enough of that in the last post. Those eclairs took quite a bit out of me. I’m not complaining though, they were as fun to make as they were delicious to eat. But I’m not kidding myself, it’s not the easiest of treats to whip up. My arm is still sore from all that chaux pastry mixing by hand. I’m totally kidding. I’m really I’m not. It’s a labor of love and fit the holiday nicely. That’s in the past, though. We’re in the future now. Or in present day, I guess. Let’s talk about salmon cakes. Most often we hear about crab cakes, so much so that I keep catching myself saying or typing out “crab cakes.” No Jonathan. NO. These are NOT crab cakes, they are salmon cakes. Get it right. Crab cakes are so last season. It’s all about salmon.
We begin, of course, with a few pieces of fresh salmon. Splurge on the good stuff (or semi-good stuff), since the the rest of the ingredients are mostly just veggies. Live a little. Now, I’m not saying go out and break the bank and use up all your life savings or weekly grocery budget on the most expensive pieces of salmon. That’s not the case either. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t get the cheapest frozen stuff. Go up a notch further and get the fresh seafood counter fish. You’ll be glad you did.
We’re going to need to cook the salmon. How are we cooking this beautiful (not so scary) fish? We’re going to roast the salmon in the oven. Place the fillets on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. What I tell you? Nothing fancy.
We’re going to be adding so much flavor into these cakes with the other ingredients, so it’s best to just season the fish as simply as we can. You don’t want to add a bunch of spices and herbs because it’ll just mask the great flavor of the fish and then in turn overpower the rest of the ingredients in the cakes later on.
Bake the salmon in a preheated 350°F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until just cooked through.
**Tip: Keep an eye on the salmon after 15 minutes. Depending on the size of your fillets, you might need an extra five minutes. Do not overcook the fish as it will become dry and tough. You could use it as a lethal weapon at that point. You’ll know it’s ready when you lightly press the salmon and it’s somewhat firm.**
Cover the baking sheet, tightly, with foil and allow to cool. Then place the tray in the fridge and chill until the fish is completely cold.
So right now you’re probably thinking you’ll just go sit and relax for until the fish is chilled. You’ll put your feet up and not worry about cooking for a bit, right? Well, you’re wrong! No! Get up! There’s no time to rest! In the meantime, let’s sauté some veggies.
Dice a small purple onion, and chop a few garlic cloves while you’re at it. Go ahead.
**Tip: A good way to speed up the whole cooking process, in many recipes, is to get all the chopping of the veggies out of the way at the beginning. That way it’s all ready to go all at once, and you wont have to keep stopping to chop stuff here and there.**
So dice the rest of the vegetables as well. We’re going to use celery, red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper.
Set the chopped veggies off to the side, and heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in a bit of unsalted butter and allow it to melt.
Add the purple onion and garlic.
Sauté for a few minutes or until the onion has just begun to brown and is translucent.
Once the onions and garlic have cooked for a few minutes, you can add the rest of the chopped veggies. Give it all a big stir and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the veggies have softened.
We’re going to add a bit of chopped parsley and chopped capers to the party as well. They’re totally invited.
Once you’ve stirred in the capers and parsley, you’re ready to season the veggies. Right now, at this moment, the veggies are pret-ty bland and boring. We don’t want bland and boring to describe our meals. We want KA-BOOM and POW-WOW in your face flavor.
So let’s add all that kick a** flavor now.
We’re going to season the vegetables with salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning (cajun style seasoning blend), hot sauce and worcestershire sauce.
Stir in the seasonings and cook for a minute or two to develop all of the flavors. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool down completely.
**Note: It’s very important that the veggies be cooled completely so that you don’t stir in hot vegetables into the cooled salmon and mayo later on. So don’t skip this step. You can transfer the vegetables to a shallow dish, which will speed up the cooling process.**
The most common binder in either crab cakes or like ours today, salmon cakes is bread crumbs. You can totally use store bought bread crumbs, that would be fine. Just make sure you use plain bread crumbs, that way you don’t add any more sodium or seasonings to the mixture than you have to.
So store bought bread crumbs will do the trick, but you know what would be 100 times better? If you were thinking homemade bread crumbs, then you are right! (And if you weren’t, well, I bet you are now). Homemade bread crumbs make all the difference. It adds a better texture, in my humble opinion. So grab a bit of day old bread or a crusty baguette from the market. Cut it into slices.
Place the slices into a food processor.
**Tip: You can choose to remove the crusts off of the bread if you wish. If you’re not a crusts kind of person. I’m all for crusts so I’m keeping it on. I think it adds a very nice texture to the salmon cakes, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’m really just lazy to remove the crust. Let’s be lazy together.**
Pulse until the bread resembles coarse crumbs. It doesn’t need to be completely pulverized. If you have some slightly larger pieces, that’s okay. Just break it down some and pour the crumbs out onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 to 10 minutes until the bread crumbs have dried out and are golden brown and crispy.
Allow the bread crumbs to cool.
By this time, the fish and veggies should be chilled and ready to go.
Let’s put together this salmon cake mixture.
Separate the salmon from the skin and flake it into a large mixing bowl. You can dirty yet another utensil that you’ll have to worry about cleaning later on, by using a fork. Or you can just use your paws and flake the salmon with your fingers. Which sounds better to you? Yeah, get those hands dirty.
We’re going to add some good stuff to this salmon. Now, I know I know, the salmon is already the good stuff BUT we need a few more ingredients. Don’t worry, this isn’t the type of recipe where we’re going to add everything but the kitchen sink into it. These salmon cakes have very minimal ingredients so it’s easy to whip up. BIG on flavor, which is what counts.
Next up is mayo and dijon mustard.
**Tip: If you don’t have dijon mustard on hand, or if you simply don’t care for it (like my mom and sister), you can use a grainy mustard instead. But you really can’t tell it’s dijon mustard, so try it out anyhow. My mom and sister didn’t even know. Don’t tell them.**
Now it’s time to add our homemade bread crumbs and two eggs.
**Tip: Oh, incidentally, I just remembered, you can also use saltine crackers (crushed up) instead of bread crumbs. That’s a good, tasty alternative that would work perfectly.**
Season with a bit more salt and pepper and give it a good mix.
**Note: DO NOT go in and mix everything like you’re whipping cream or making butter. That will break-up the salmon too much. You want to be able to taste and see the chunks of salmon throughout. So, just fold everything together, and lightly mix.**
And the final thing to add are the cooled sautéed veggies from earlier. Gently fold those in as well.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 3o minutes. The mixture needs time to chill and firm up a bit. Also to develop some awesome flavor.
In the meantime, let’s turn our attention to that dill sauce shall we. The creamy dill sauce.
This sauce is the easiest thing ever. The hardest step you’ll have to do is to stir everything together. You can do that right? If I can do it, then you can do it for sure. And you can probably even do it better than me.
Into a small mixing bowl, add mayo, sour cream, and prepared horseradish.
**Tip: The horseradish is optional, and if you’re not into the spicy kick that is horseradish, then you don’t have to add it. At the same time, you can add as much or as little as you’d like. It’s up to you, I’m giving you the keys to the kingdom. You can only borrow them though. Don’t get used to it.**
You’re also going to add, chopped parsley, salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
**Note: Make sure you add garlic powder and not garlic salt. You don’t want to over-salt this sauce. But if all you have is garlic salt on hand, add that instead but omit the kosher salt.**
The last couple of ingredients are freshly squeezed lemon juice and chopped fresh dill. Give it all a good stir until completely combined and smooth.
That’s it. You’re done with the creamy dill sauce. Super easy right? That was a rhetorical question, you don’t have to answer. It was easy. I know it, you know it, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can give it a taste and check for seasoning. If you think it needs more salt or pepper (or horseradish or lemon juice) add more.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
The salmon cake mixture should be chilled by now. Take the bowl out of the fridge and grab a medium (or large depending on desired size) ice cream scooper.
**Tip: To ensure that all your cakes come out the same size so that the cook at the same time, use an ice cream scooper to portion out the patties.**
Scoop out an even amount of the salmon mixture onto your palm. Then lightly pat it out between palms to shape it into a thick patty. Drench in flour and dust off.
Once all the cakes have been shaped and lightly dredged in flour, you’re ready to start sautéing them. We’re looking to cook both sides until golden brown and crispy.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add a bit of olive oil.
**Note: Don’t add so much oil that it looks like a swimming pool. We’re not deep frying these guys. You just want to add a little bit of oil, enough to pan fry them quickly.**
Fry all the cakes until golden brown and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked cakes onto a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250ºF oven until ready to serve. These can be eaten warm or at room temperature. You can easily make them in advance and keep them in the fridge until ready to serve. Just rewarm in the oven before eating.
These salmon cakes are a perfect appetizer or starter to any meal or party, since you can make them in advance. I like to serve these with a simple arugula salad on the side. Just take a bit of arugula and dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Serve with a few salmon cakes, a drizzle of our creamy dill sauce we made earlier and a lemon wedge because any and all seafood (especially salmon) should be eaten with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen?
I’ve always attributed lemon juice to seafood because my family has a weird penchant for lemon on their fish, especially when we eat fish and chips. I’ve gone to many a restaurant with my family and my sisters keep asking for lemon and all I see them do is squeeze lemon juice all over their fish, and constantly too. I look back in horror because I’m all for lemon, but that’s a little excessive in my book. I love them regardless though, even with their weird unhealthy obsession with lemon juice.
The great hope in life is that there many days filled with salmon cakes and lots of creamy dill sauce on hand. Like a never ending fountain that only spouts out delicious dill sauce. Maybe a few soft rolls to sandwich them together because we all know that everything EVERYTHING is better between two pieces of bread. And even if everything isn’t better with bread, lie to me. Let’s just pretend that that’s the case. I’m prepared to eat my way through life with nothing but bread as an accompaniment, wouldn’t you?
I really enjoy this recipe because it’s very economical. I’m not made of money so crab cakes can be a little too much to make sometimes because let’s face it, really good lumped crab can be pret-ty pricey, much more than I can afford so salmon is a great alternative. The added bonus is that these cakes aren’t fishy at all, especially when you use really good fresh fish. So I think you should jump out of that comfort zone and give these a try. Not just because it’s the newest post and I’ve worked so hard on putting it together for you, but because it’s really delicious and I feel like your friends and family would really enjoy it because my family really enjoyed it and my family can be pretty picky.
This is a great way to get your family to eat more seafood. You can easily prepare these in advance, like on a Sunday. And then when you come home from work on Monday, dinner is all set and ready to go. All you have to do is rewarm the cakes in the oven for a few minutes. Toss a salad together and serve it up. Dinner in 5 minutes. You can also roast some veggies in the oven the night before. I’m thinking a medley of carrots, zucchini, squash, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and/or broccoli. That way you have a full healthy balanced meal. One that you can feel good about serving. Plus you have all that protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for you, from the salmon. It’s a win win situation, if you ask me. Also my mom would be ever so happy if you made this recipe. She likes hearing about people trying out my recipes. Let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Step away from the usual crab cake, and try something new and out of the box with these salmon cakes. They’re a perfect appetizer or starter to any meal. The great thing is that you can make them into larger patties and serve them as a main course alongside a tossed salad and roasted vegetables. Looking for a great seafood burger? Look no further. Make these into burger sized portions and slather the creamy dill sauce onto burger buns to make delicious seafood burgers, any night of the week!
yield: about 15 small cakes
- 1 pound (about two medium fillets) fresh salmon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 3 garlic garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons old bay seasoning (crab boil/cajun seasoning)
- few dashes hot sauce
- 5 large slices (day old) crusty bread (enough for 1 cup bread crumbs)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup flour
- olive oil for sautéing
- lemon wedges for serving
- creamy dill sauce (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the salmon fillets (skin side down) onto a baking sheet. Drizzle each with a bit of olive oil (about a teaspoon on each) and season with salt and pepper. You can just eyeball it. Roast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your salmon, or until just cooked through. You’ll know it’s ready when you lightly press on the fish and it feels firm. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil. Allow to cool down. Transfer to the fridge and let it chill completely.
2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Stir in the chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, celery, parsley and capers. Cook for a few minutes, about 5 to 8 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Season with salt, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and old bay seasoning. Cook a few minutes longer. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl or plate and allow to cool down completely.
3. Process the bread slices in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Dump out onto a baking sheet and bake for about 2 to 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
4. Separate the salmon from it’s skin and flake into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayo, dijon mustard, bread crumbs, cooked veggies, eggs, and a bit more salt and pepper. Gently stir and fold, making sure to not breakdown the salmon too much, until completely combined and well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Portion out the cakes and shape them into patties, similar in size. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Dredge the salmon cakes in flour, shaking off the excess, and place in the hot oil. Sauté for about 2 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250°F oven until ready to eat. Serve with arugula, lemon wedges and creamy dill sauce. The cakes can be made a few days in advance, and stored in the fridge. Rewarm in the oven for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Creamy Dill Sauce
This creamy dill sauce goes well with most seafood. Use it as a dipping sauce for grilled shrimp or as a spread between bread in a fish sandwich or seafood burger. Pour it over grilled or baked salmon fillets for a tasty weeknight dinner. It’s easy to make in advance and keeps well in the fridge for whenever you need it. It’s delicious with these salmon cakes, but maybe I’m just biased.
yield: about 1 cup
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (optional)
- half of a lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl, until smooth. Taste and check for seasonings and adjust accordingly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. Enjoy!