The Best Pan-Fried Fresh Salmon Cakes
I adore Cook's Illustrated magazine; I love the way they seek to develop and perfect a particular dish. They usually start with a stack of recipes, then pick and choose ingredients and techniques to hone in on the very best version. I rarely disagree with their methods or findings.
So when a new issue arrived, I was immediately intrigued by one of the articles and its accompanying recipes. You'll notice I've included only the recipes here…not my customary "notes" at the end detailing the changes I made. Unlike my normal habit of treating a recipe casually and altering things on a whim, I followed this to the letter…and I do agree with the authors (Adam Ried with Julia Colline) that this is the best salmon cakes you'll ever eat.
The key is the use of fresh, chopped salmon…and not overcooking the cakes.
This is a keeper.
List of Ingredients
- 1-1/4 pounds salmon fillet
- 1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and white part, chopped very fine (about 5 tablespoons)
- 2 T. mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup finely grated onion
- 2 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 3/4 t. salt
- 1-1/2 T. juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 t. plus 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs, preferably panko
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2-1/2 T. juice from 1 lemon
- 1 T. minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 T. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 large scallion, white and green part, minced
- 1/2 t. salt
- Ground black pepper
- Locate and remove any pin bones from salmon flesh. Using sharp knife, cut flesh off skin, then discard skin. Chop salmon flesh into 1/4 to 1/3-inch pieces and mix with chopped bread, 2 T. mayonnaise, onion,2 T. parsley, salt, and1-1/2 T. lemon juice in medium bowl. Scoop a generous 1/4-cup portion salmon mixture from bowl and use hands to form into a patty measuring roughly 2-1/2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick; place on parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining salmon mixture until you have 8 patties. Place patties in freezer until surface moisture has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spread flour in pie plate or shallow baking dish. Beat eggs with 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1-1/2 teaspoons water in second pie plate or shallow baking dish, and spread bread crumbs in a third. Dip chilled salmon patties in flour to cover; shake off excess. Transfer to beaten egg and, using slotted spatula, turn to coat; let excess drip off. Transfer to bread crumbs; shake pan to coat patties completely. Return now-breaded patties to baking sheet.
- Heat remaining 1/2 cup vegetable oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 3 minutes; add salmon patties and cook until medium golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes over and continue cooking until medium golden brown on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil on surface, if desired, about 30 seconds, and then serve immediately, with the creamy lemon herb dipping sauce, if you like.
- Make the Creamy Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2-1/2 T. lemon juice, 1 T. minced fresh parsley leaves, 1 T. minced fresh thyme leaves, scallion, 1/2 t. salt and the pepper in small bowl; season to taste with ground black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until flavors blend, at least 30 minutes.
Makes 8 cakes (serves 4)
Creamy Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce makes generous 1/2 cup
Just a quick note: We don't bother with the sauce. I just serve the salmon cakes with lots of lemon wedges which were "warmed" in the microwave to make them give up more of their juice.