Wait! Don’t throw out that leftover salmon! Turn it into a nutritious salmon cakes for lunch or an easy supper for the weekend when you don’t feel like cooking a big meal!
I love fish cakes and have been a fan of them since childhood as my mother made them often, usually for lunch or for a quick weekend supper. The fish cakes from my childhood were made from canned ” Chicken Haddie” and it was a staple in our pantry as well as in many other New Brunswick kitchens. Ever heard of chicken haddie?
Chicken haddie was very popular in the Maritimes and consisted of a mixture of cod and haddock and came in cans like tuna or salmon. It truly made the most delicious fish cakes ever and my mouth is watering just thinking about them. We were very classy in those days, and loved to smother the top of the fish cakes with ketchup! Yum! My mother would serve her homemade bread and butter pickles along with the fish cakes. I’ve included a recipe for fish cakes made with Chicken Haddie that I found in a pile of old newspaper recipe clippings mom had. The newspaper was the Telegraph Journal, Saint John N.B and it was dated 1938.
The recipe above is probably similar to the fish cake recipe that I grew up with, but I do not have my mother’s actual recipe. No doubt she just made them from memory.
These days, we make fish cakes out of any cod or salmon that is leftover after a meal and I love how the salmon does double duty; delicious fillets for dinner = delicious fish cakes for lunch the next day.
We catch our fish each year from the north end of Vancouver Island, and it has been a family tradition for twenty some years to spend a couple of weeks each summer fishing. It was a wonderful family time when the boys were little, fishing, beachcombing, having bonfires and of course, eating the freshest fish you can get. The boys have many fond memories of escapades during our summer holidays. We still try to maintain this tradition each year even though schedules sometimes get in the way. Vancouver Island is renowned for its fishing, and I have felt very grateful over the years to have been able to provide such healthy meals for the family with all our fresh and frozen salmon.
Salmon cakes are very easy to make and are perfect when there are any fillets left from the barbecue or oven. The salmon gets mixed into cooked cold potatoes along with onions, eggs, seasonings, and then gently pan-fried or sautéed, so it doesn’t overcook the salmon. Chilling the salmon cakes in the refrigerator before cooking helps bind them together. Cornmeal was the traditional coating in our home when I was a child, so this is also my coating of choice for my salmon cakes and really gives the cakes a nice crunch.
- 3 medium potatoes (russet potatoes work well) microwaved for 8-10 minutes or until soft. This method of cooking the potatoes keeps them fluffy and not mushy (however, if you have cold leftover mashed potatoes go ahead use them, they will work just fine). Cool for 10-15 minutes.
- 2 cups leftover salmon flaked (check for bones)
- 3 green onions finely chopped (or 1 small onion finely diced)
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- several sprigs of parsley
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (browned butter gives a nice flavour)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon dried dill (use fresh if you have it and increase the amount a bit)
- ½ cup of cornmeal
- 2 or 3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil for pan frying
- cast iron frying pan or large non-stick skillet
- Scoop out the insides of the potatoes while still slightly warm into a large bowl and break up any large clumps with your fingers.
- Gently mix in salmon, butter, seasonings, parsley, onions and celery.
- Stir the eggs into the mixture taking care not to turn it into mush.
- Using a ½ cup measure shape patties into round flat cakes with the salmon mixture. You can use a smaller amount.
- Sprinkle cornmeal onto a plate.
- Press the fish cakes into the cornmeal. Transfer to a plate, and cover with plastic wrap.
- Chill mixture for ½- 1 hour or more in the refrigerator.
- Pan fry in oil for 4 minutes each side for the ½ cup size,( 2-3 minutes for anything smaller) on medium heat until they are golden brown and heated through.
- You will probably need to fry in two batches.
- Carefully transfer the salmon cakes to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, dill pickles or tartar sauce.