Salmon cakes are one of my favorite springtime brunch dishes. But I’m not talking those tired salmon croquettes made with canned salmon and cracker meal. I mean fresh salmon cakes. I often save the ends and the “salmon belly” – those extra fatty pieces that I trim from the edges of salmon filets, in the freezer, very well wrapped. Because the bellies are extra fatty, they’re perfect for salmon cakes. And I use Panko – Japanese style bread crumbs – which have an especially light texture.
Then I like to serve them with Gribiche, the herby French cousin of tartar sauce. Serve them alongside some roasted asparagus – well, like I said, it’s a perfect springtime brunch dish.
Fresh Salmon Cakes with Gribiche Sauce
• 3 pounds salmon
• 1/2 cup celery, fine dice (or substitute fresh fennel bulb for an extra herby kick)
• 1/4 cup, red onion, fine dice
• 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
• 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, fine dice
• 2 tablespoons chives, snipped
• 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs plus more for coating the cakes (alternatively use fresh breadcrumbs from French bread)
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
• Salt to taste
• Additional @3 cups for coating shaped cakes
• Vegetable oil for frying cakes
1. Cut salmon into 1 inch chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the salmon a few times to chop coarsely- the chopped salmon should retain some texture.
2. Mix the salmon with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3. Pour additional Panko into a shallow dish. Shape salmon mixture into @ 2 1/2 inch cakes. Roll into the Panko to coat completely.
4. Heat @ 1/2 inch of oil in a large frying pan, until it sizzles slightly when a bit of liquid is dropped in it. Place several cakes in the pan, but do not crowd the cakes. Fry until golden brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes) then flip over and cut on the other side. Continue until all the cakes are fried. They may be held in a warm oven (about 200 degrees) while completing the frying. The pan should be wiped out between batches to remove bread crumbs which will burn with the extra frying. Yield: @ 2 dozen 2 1/2 inch cakes
Mix into 1 cup mayonnaise:
• 1/2 hard boiled egg, chopped
• 1 shallot, minced
• 2 teaspoons minced capers (drain and rinse the capers before mincing)
• 2 teaspoons cornichons
• 2 teaspoons fines herbes*
• Freshly ground white pepper to taste
*a mixture of parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil- chervil, a wonderfully delicate herb, is easiest to find in springtime, although even then it can sometimes be hard to find. If you can’t find it case just make it up with more of the other 3 herbs.
Gribiche benefits from a day or two for the flavors to marry, and it’s good with all sorts of things- boiled shrimp, cold steamed mussels, poached salmon, grilled steak. I even ate at a little Frenchy type bistro once, where it was served on a great burger in place of mayonnaise.