A good friend of mine works for a seafood supplier, and every time I cook seafood he asks me what I paid for it. He’s always telling me that he can get me fantastic deals if I just buy from him, but for some
super foolish reason, I had never taken him up on it… until now.
While in NJ visiting my fiance’s family, I received a text from my pal that simply read, “7 lbs of salmon. $7.” Let that sink in for a second. That’s a dollar a pound! And this is restaurant quality fish, my friends! I wasn’t going to be back for a few days, so I told him to toss it in the freezer until I could get back to deal with my prize. I immediately started fantasizing about all the things I would do with this fish. I could have never imagined what I would come home to. My friend came over the day after I returned with a huge Styrofoam, um, casket. There I was frantically rearranging frozen goods so that I could insert a giant slab of fish that spanned the length of the freezer. That was the easy part. The next day I thought I would break it into nice 6 oz portions. Hah. No way. That was NOT going to happen. I took a serrated blade to it and was lucky to hack it in half. I threw the tail end back in the freezer and deboned and scaled the other half (no easy task) before putting it in the fridge to thaw. Not really sure what I wanted to do with it, I decided to just bake the whole thing, and then figure out how to use the cooked salmon throughout the week.*
The first night we had perfectly moist salmon fillets. Easy peasy. Now it was going to get tricky. What do you do with cooked fish? How do you avoid drying it out? I’ll tell you: salmon cakes and salmon chowder. Boom. Problem solved. I can eat salmon (crab, fish, whatever) cakes for days, and the weather is just crisp enough that chowder is still a welcome addition to our meal rotation. The fiance is happy, I’m happy, and this salmon is finally disappearing. Life is good.
*That’s right, I panicked. Overwhelmed with the thought of 4 lbs of raw fish just sitting in my fridge, I took the easy way out.
Restaurant-Style Salmon Cakes
(adapted from Ina Garten’s Salmon Cakes recipe)
- ½ lb cooked, flaked salmon, cooled
- 1 leek, trimmed and washed
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 T capers, drained
- ¼ t hot sauce
- ½ t Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ t Old Bay
- ½ t kosher salt
- ½ t pepper
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, homemade (plus a little panko)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 t Dijon mustard
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- Mix leek, celery, bell pepper, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable mixture to the pan and cook until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Combine the cold, flaked salmon with the breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and beaten eggs.
- Add the cooled vegetable mixture to the salmon. Mix well.
- Form patties out of the salmon/vegetable mixture. I was able to make 10 medium sized ones. It really depends on your preference, whether you like them thick or not.
- Preheat the oven to 300°.
- Heat 1 T butter with 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola) over medium heat. In batches, pan-fry the patties for a few minutes on each side until they begin to brown.
- Place the patties on a baking tray (lined mine with parchment) and bake for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.
- Optional: mix Sriracha, and mayo or greek yogurt to serve with the cakes.