My husband's work schedule is always rotating between different shifts, which means there are often days or nights where he's not home for lunch or dinner - or both! While these times are often boring or quiet, this also means that I can eat whatever I want for dinner. This is usually when I get to experiment more with food and ingredients he's not a huge fan of. When he's on this schedule, I try to eat as much seafood as I can, among other things.
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is for easy salmon cakes. The recipe makes between 6 and 10 medium-sized salmon cakes and I'll tell ya right now, they are amazing for leftovers. I like to eat 2 or 3 on an arugula salad, which makes the leftover cakes perfect to pack up for lunches for a few days during the week. And their make-ahead nature is great for serving them as an appetizer for your next dinner party.
Full disclosure: I did not invent this recipe. It is my version of one created by Giada DeLaurentiis - I use different proportions and measurements and serve them differently. I have linked her version at the bottom of my recipe. I encourage you to try these both her way and mine.
Now let's cook savvy!
Our ingredients are salmon*, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, capers, salt, pepper, an egg, corn, dijon mustard, and a sleeve of Saltines.
*I used smoked salmon in this recipe, because my parents brought some with them from Atlanta. You can definitely use canned salmon, or fresh or frozen, just make sure you cook it first - I like to season with salt & pepper and sear on both sides in a hot pan for about 4 minutes per side.
I also used a special tool when I made this recipe, a corn stripper! My husband absolutely LOVES corn and while it’s not hard to lob the kernels off with a knife, this thing just makes that task so much faster. I used the OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper. I also used some kitchen basics everyone should have: a knife, cutting board, mixing bowl, zester, and rolling pin.
First, flake the salmon, which just means shred it into smallish pieces. You’re going to stir everything together at the end, so the chunks don’t have to be super tiny right now. Then crack an egg…
And add it to the salmon.
Quick note: the egg will work better to bind the mixture if it’s at room temperature. I’ve tried this before with a cold egg and the cakes kinda fell apart.
That corn stripper is pretty cool, right? Just slide the blade down the cob, and the little cup collects all of the kernels. So much less mess! And my favorite part? It’s dishwasher-safe! I probably should have lead with that.
*OXO is not sponsoring this post in any way, I should add. They have no idea who I am. I just think this tool is super cool!
Add the corn to the salmon and egg.
Next, add mayo - whichever flavor or type you like. This is about ½ of a cup. Since I used smoked salmon, which has a drier consistency than fresh or canned salmon, I used that much mayo. I’d say start with a ⅓ cup and add more once you mix everything together at the end, if the mixture isn’t quite sticking together.
Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard.
Then a tablespoon of capers. These are in a brine in their jar so use a fork to get them out so the liquid drips off.
Next add the zest of an entire lemon and the juice of half of that same lemon.
This is what it the mixture looks like before you get to crushin’ crackers and mixin’ it up.
And, I have to break midway through to brag on my father. He came to town and took all of these beautiful photographs for a few of my blog posts and we started with this one. He worked so hard to set up the perfect shots and getting these pictures back to me in great condition. Thanks, Daddy! Check out more of his work here.
Take the sleeve of Saltines and your rolling pin and just whack the heck out of it. You want this to turn into crumbs, and a few larger pieces are okay.
Pour the crumbs out onto a plate and add half of them to the salmon mixture. You are going to use the other half of the crumbs to coat the outside of the cakes.
Now mix it all together…
Until it looks like this! If it doesn’t look as smooth and combined as this, add a little more mayo - about a tablespoon at a time.
Take a ¼ cup sized spoonful and scoop it into your palm - see how it all sticks together? That's the consistency you're looking for.
And form it into a little patty! If you make them any bigger than this, they will have a higher tendency to fall apart when you sear them.
Place them in the cracker crumbs and make sure they are well-coated.
Place your finished cake on a separate plate.
Continue this for the rest of the patties.
Then take a piece of plastic wrap and cover these. You’ll want to chill them for at least an hour to really let them firm up.
Meanwhile, you can make a dressing for them! I made a somewhat thin dressing for this batch because I wanted it work as a salad dressing, but if you were serving these on their own as an appetizer or snack, just make it using Greek yogurt only and omit the olive oil. Maybe add a few more capers too.
Stir together the juice from half a lemon, ½ a tablespoon of capers, 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Then drizzle in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. I used a spoon but you can use a whisk. Stir or whisk until everything is combined.
After the salmon cakes have chilled for at least an hour, heat up a large skillet with about ¼ cup of oil. You basically want enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan - no dry spots - but you don’t want so much that the salmon cakes will be soaking in it. We are just pan-frying, not deep frying. Cook them on medium heat (we don’t want the cracker crust to burn) for 3 minutes per side.
Grab a platter if you're serving multiple people (I was) or just a salad plate and top with arugula.
When I make these for myself, I just make a small plate and let the rest of the salmon cakes cool before packing them up and putting them in the fridge.
Place the salmon cakes on top of the arugula.
And drizzle with the dressing.
These are so creamy and delicious and still feel light. The peppery arugula adds a nice bite and the dressing adds extra tang and moisture. Make these on the weekend to have on hand for snacks or lunches throughout the week, or for an easy dinner at home. These are also great for introducing salmon to kids!
Here's the recipe!
Giada DeLaurentiis' recipe can be found here.
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
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