Monday, September 14, 2009

Salmon Cakes - Redefining Canned Fish

I have a tendency towards food hoarding - I blame it on subliminal messages from my father who was born in 1930 to a widow with three other kids. When I was young we could occasionally coax stories from him about how his family's poverty meant that they only ate meat once a week (on Sunday) and used bacon grease on their bread instead of butter (so good!) I think his childhood experience is a main reason that he always had a garden with tremendous abundance and he was an ardent canner; the dill pickles I make are from his recipe.

But back to hoarding, in unpacking my kitchen for the third time in as many years I realized I've been carting around a can of salmon for some time and decided it was time to use it. (Sidebar: because my new kitchen has almost no storage space I'm going to be using up the odds and ends that have traveled with me and never been used so look for future posts using unique ingredients!)

Never having made salmon cakes I went to my trusty "food encyclopedia" The Joy of Cooking, which, as I suspected, suggested a simple recipe: salmon, crushed crackers, salt, pepper and egg. I added some dried dill and whipped up a spicy remoulade like sauce to go with them and let me tell you dear reader, they were scrumptious! I rarely think of myself as gobbling my food, but I'm sure that is exactly what I looked like scarfing these beauties.

Salmon Cakes

1 15 oz can salmon (you can eat the bones and skin if yours comes that way)
2/3 - 1 cup crackers, crushed
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried dill
oil or butter for frying

Drain salmon and mix with crackers, egg, dill, salt and pepper. I used the crackers I had on hand which were water crackers and just crushed them with a rolling pin. You can easily crush them by putting them in a bowl and using the bottom of a smaller bowl or coffee cup to crush them. They don't need to be pulverized. Form into patties no more than 1/2 inch thick. Fry on medium heat until well browned on both sides. Serve with lemon wedges or a mayonnaise sauce like the one below.

Spicy Creamy Sauce

For my sauce I combined the first three sauce ingredients with a teaspoon of a spicy chili paste that I had created, which also included some sugar to offset the spice. But feel free to experiment according to your own taste.

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
several dashes tabasco sauce (or pinch of cayenne)

Combine all ingredients and then add any of the following ingredients according to taste:

1 teaspoon capers, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon dried wasabi for an Asian twist


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