Salmon cakes with spicy mayo

December 2, 2009 § 7 Comments

Woe is me! I am already out of Thanksgiving leftovers. Which means I am also almost entirely out of food in my house. Preparing for Thanksgiving kind of took over the grocery shopping part of my brain leaving me completely unable to plan ahead for what would come afterwards. Couldn’t I just eat leftover turkey and mashed potatoes for every meal for the next couple of weeks? No, it turns out! I couldn’t. It, sadly, didn’t last nearly that long. The Thanksgiving feast also left me feeling a bit like I shouldn’t be required to cook anything (apart from making stock from the turkey bones to make into soup) for still another few days (on a side note, Thanksgiving was an adventurous day that I’m sure I’ll describe at some point in the future, and which turned out quite deliciously in the end with very few catastrophes and only one semi-serious injury, caused by an oyster shucker (picture squirting blood from the palm of the hand being staunched with a maxi pad – hopefully you’ll laugh and get the general idea!).

Anyways, with almost nothing in my refrigerator, I turned to the pantry. These are the days when I’m very glad I keep around canned fish, especially canned salmon! We’re all supposed to be eating more fish anyway – omega 3 fats and some of the other fishy components are good for the heart and brain, and give you a nice glossy coat (er, if you’re a dog or cat). I love fresh fish, but it can be hard to cook as often as I would like because it can be so darn expensive, and frequently the stuff they have at the fish counter is farm raised (not as healthy!) and looks as though it hasn’t seen the sea in so many weeks it has started to think it’s a pack of camels. For a while I got fish through something called a community supported fishery, which involved picking up a delivery of freshly caught fish once a week. The problem was, the fish were MASSIVE and needed to be filleted and gutted immediately. And who has time to do that at 3 on a Tuesday afternoon?!

some of the gargantuan cod from my fish delivery!

Suffice it to say, I didn’t manage to stay involved for that long. Canned fish does not give you these problems. It’s usually a better price, you can look for “wild caught” on the label, and it keeps so it’s there ready and waiting for you when you need it. Unfortunately it also does not taste as good as fresh fish, but it lends itself well to gussying up in something like fish cakes which are a staple on my table (fresh fish can definitely also be used in fish cakes and makes them even that much better, it just needs to be poached first). All you need is a can of salmon, some mayo, and breadcrumbs – preferably the Italian herbed kind.

After you drain the salmon you do have to do a little bone-picking since they leave some of them in there. It’s not the most fun, but I trust you will survive the process. Mix the can of salmon with a really big dollop of mayo and a hefty sprinkling of the bread crumbs, stirring it all together well. If you have red bell pepper around, it’s really good with a couple of Tablespoons of very finely chopped bell pepper stirred in as well.  The batter consistency should be wet enough so that it will stick together, but not so wet that you can’t pick it up and form it into patties (I call the consistency gloppy, but it’s not generally a word that people think is good to use with food). Make the batter into balls a bit bigger than golf balls, then lightly flatten them into patties. Heat a couple Tablespoons of butter or oil in a frying pan and fry the fish cakes several minutes on each side, until they’re nicely browned. Rather than a traditional tartar sauce, I like to serve my salmon cakes with a spiced up mayonnaise – kind of a remoulade for cheaters. If I have Thai curry paste (red or green) I will mix a pea sized amount into several Tablespoons of mayo. 1/2-1 tsp. curry powder will also work, as will a little wasabi paste. Today, I also served my salmon cakes accompanied by roasted butternut squash and apples and a little green salad (and I mean really little. It was like leaf scraps with dressing because that’s all I had, oh well). And, call me crazy (or just Norwegian), but I also think the salmon cake leftovers make a great breakfast. Here’s a recipe with slightly more precise measurements:

Salmon cakes with spicy mayo (makes 4 cakes)

  • 1 large (about 14 oz.) can of salmon drained and picked clean of bones (or 3/4 lb. filet of salmon, baked in 1/4 in. water at 375F until just cooked)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 Tbs. Italian spiced bread crumbs (if you just have plain that’s fine, you could also add a sprinkling of oregano, basil, and parsley)
  • 1-2 Tbs. very finely chopped red bell pepper or flat leaf Italian parsley (optional)

  1. Mix ingredients together well. Form into 4 patties.
  2. Heat 1-2 Tbs. butter or oil in a frying pan and fry the fish cakes at medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Flip carefully! and don’t worry if they fall apart – salmon hash tastes really good too.

Spicy Mayo

  • 2-3 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • pea size amount of Thai curry paste (I like red curry paste best)

  1. Stir together until blended. Serve on top of the salmon cakes. This is also a yummy spread on sandwiches, burgers, and with other fish.

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§ 7 Responses to Salmon cakes with spicy mayo

  • Josh says:

    Yummmmm. When do we start up supper club again?

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Yeah! I’ve been missing those crazy themed dishes. Weren’t there plans to do “forbidden foods” one of these days?

  • margo says:

    Em –
    Ugur and I have started making mozarella at home! It started with making yogurt and then we got a home creamery book. The first two batches of mozarella have been close but we’re still tweaking it to get it just right.
    Keep posting your creative cooking sessions!

  • Pia Høyer says:


    My name is Pia and I have a question for you with regards to the recipe. I love fish cakes, and as it much easier to get hold of cheap salmon than canned salmon here, I live in Norway, I wonder if it’s ok to use fresh fish and what I have to do with it in order to make it work in your recipe.

    I’m not a great cook, but I try to make my food from scratch so I have to ask about these things in order to be able cook properly,


    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Hi Pia! You can most definitely use fresh salmon. It’s actually even better that way. You can just take a salmon fillet that is around 400g, put it in a baking dish and add about a cm of water to the dish. Bake it in the oven at 350F (around 175C, if I remember right) until it is just cooked enough to flake easily with a fork, around 20 minutes. Then, let it cool. Remove the skin and break the salmon apart with a fork. Then just mix it with the mayo and the breadcrumbs as it says in the recipe. You may need to add a little more breadcrumbs to make the cakes hold together. They also hold together better if you refrigerate the cakes for about 30 minutes before frying them. Haaper det smaker!

  • […] the best of the best, in my opinion.  They’re one of my favorite takes on one of my favorite staple meals.  One day several years ago, feeling torn between pepper crusted steak with horseradish sauce or […]

  • […] sandwiches or burgers, French food, or Indian food, or Northern European food (I just had them with salmon cakes), Southern BBQ, your Thanksgiving turkey, you name […]

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