This is one of my favorite summer weeknight meals as salmon cakes are perfect to eat out on the patio with a glass of white wine. Many think of salmon cakes made using canned salmon, however, I like to cut fresh salmon for these flavorful and juicy salmon cakes. Much like crab cakes, they are comprised mostly of fish and held together with a few flavorful ingredients. There is just enough binding to hold the cakes together without overpowering the salmon. I cut the salmon into small cubes so it can be flaked once cooked. While they can be cooked in the oven I prefer cooking them in a sauté pan to give the cakes a golden brown crust on the exterior.
When making this salmon cake recipe, look for the thick middle chunk of the salmon at the market. Rather than using ground salmon, the salmon is kept in small pieces to give more texture and those thicker pieces will be more even. Since the salmon is in large chunks be careful when flipping the cakes, as they tend to fall apart easily but will give the cakes great texture!
Mayonnaise acts as binder in this recipe, helping to keep the ingredients together while also keeping the salmon cakes moist as they cook.
Shallots have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. If needed yellow or red onion can be swapped in. The general rule of thumb is 3 medium shallots equal 1 medium onion.
Like mayonnaise, egg acts as a binder much like it does in meatballs. It works to hold all the ingredients together while they cook.
Coriander, cayenne and fresh chives are used to season this recipe. The cayenne adds just a touch of spice without overpowering the other ingredients.
I use both lemon zest and lemon juice to add some acid to this recipe. The lemon zest is the grated outer skin from the lemon. Use a zester or microplane to remove the zest. If you don’t have a zester use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the rind and finely chop it.
Panko, or Japanese bread crumbs, are light and airy. They absorb less oil than Italian breadcrumbs which makes for a crisp, crunchy texture.
Since these salmon cakes are cooked at a lower temperature a lower smoke point like olive oil is ok for cooking. I like the subtle flavor the olive oil adds though it can be swapped with a neutral oil like vegetable oil.
Cut the salmon into ¼” to ½” cubes, discarding the skin if needed.
In a large bowl mix the salmon, panko breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, shallot, chives, coriander, cayenne, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl lightly beat an egg, then gently fold into the salmon mixture.
Form 4 equal salmon patties about 4” in diameter.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Cook the salmon cakes until golden brown and the salmon becomes opaque, about 4 minutes on each side.
Stir together the yogurt, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.
Serve the warm salmon cakes with the sauce and corn or arugula salad on the side.
The egg and mayonnaise will help to bind the salmon cakes but since the fish is left in larger pieces as they cook they can break apart. Carefully flip the salmon cakes using a spatula. The shaped salmon cakes can also be refrigerated for 30 minutes before cooking to help them keep their shape as they cook.
Mix the salmon cakes in the mixing bowl according to the instructions below. At this point either shape the patties or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to one day in advance.
Store any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container. While fish like salmon is tough to reheat, these actually store fairly well. While they are best fresh, to reheat, microwave until just warmed, about 15 to 20 seconds then re-fry in a bit of olive oil in a skillet until crispy.
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