I am trying to break out of my salmon rut, I honestly am. But when one is confronted with a beautiful, fresh, vivid red sockeye fillet, it is really, really difficult to avoid cooking it as simply as possible. The fact that I live in an area where it’s quite difficult to get fresh sockeye now isn’t helping matters.
But then my favorite local grocery store came through in a huge way: a sockeye salmon sidewalk sale! They flew in a bunch of whole sockeye overnight from Alaska and sold them whole. We bought a lot, and I started dreaming big.
These fillets were large, so when we used the first one, I had the opportunity to make not one, but two new dishes out of it! Be still my heart! I cured part of it for gravlax — more coming soon on that endeavor — but the larger measure of fish I reserved for these cakes, which had oh-so-fortuitously floated across my computer screen a whole of days before. And they proved to be everything I dreamed of. Some may say it was a bit of a waste to use such an extravagant fish in such a humble way, but I really don’t care what the haters think. This stuff was delicious.
From Cook’s Illustrated’s July/August 2011 issue
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetizer
- Resist the temptation to make these cakes too large. Otherwise, they’ll fall apart and cook unevenly.
- If buying a skin-on salmon fillet, purchase 1 1/3 pounds of fish. This will yield 1 1/4 pounds of fish after skinning.
- When processing the salmon it is OK to have some pieces that are larger than 1/4 inch. It is important to avoid over-processing the fish.
- If you need soy-free panko, the only one I have found is the unflavored “Private Selection” Kroger/Fred Meyer/Fry’s/etc. store brand.
You will need:
- 3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or aioli
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 scallion, sliced thin
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 (1 1/4 pound) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Tartar sauce, for serving
- Add 3 tablespoons panko, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, scallion, shallot, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. Combine well; the mixture should be homogenous.
- Working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, about 2 pulses, transferring each batch to bowl with panko mixture. Gently mix until uniformly combined.
- Place the remaining 3/4 cup panko in a pie-plate. Using 1/3-cup measure, scoop level amount of salmon mixture and transfer to baking sheet; repeat to make 8 cakes. Carefully coat each cake in bread crumbs, gently patting into disk measuring 2 3/4 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Return the coated cakes to the baking sheet.
- Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place salmon cakes in skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cakes to paper towel–lined plate to drain 1 minute. Serve the salmon cakes with lemon wedges and/or tartar sauce.
- To reheat left-overs: cook gently on the stove-top in a smidge of oil over low heat until heated through.