I am undone. Perhaps the State of the Union address will perk me up, but, you know, probably not. Oh well, at least I had a really good sandwich for dinner.
Because really, after the age of thirty, what’s left beside sandwiches, catnaps and the occasional cocktail on weekends? Nothing; nothing but acid reflux, a bad back and way too many years to go before you retire.
Le sigh. What I wouldn’t give for a heating pad, a vicodin and a piece of chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick. And maybe a foot rub. A gal can dream.
See? UNDONE. But you have not come here for that, unless you’re in it for the schadenfreude. Which I wouldn’t blame you for, if you are. No, you are here for the salmon cakes with herbed yogurt.
I’ve never actually had a salmon cake; it wasn’t something my mom ever made growing up, and they’re typically made with canned salmon, which kinda wigs me out. Unlike tuna, which I’m pretty sure is harvested directly from the sea already in cans.
(Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have made salmon cakes tonight if Fresh Direct carried fresh lump crabmeat. But they don’t, so here we are.)
I put the yogurt sauce together so the flavors would have a little time to meld: Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro and mint, lime zest, cumin, coriander and salt and pepper. I’m fairly confident that you could smear that on anything and have it taste good.
For the cakes, I started out by sauteing some diced veg. I guess I could have chucked them in raw, but didn’t think the cakes’ quick cook time would be enough to soften them and didn’t want them to release any of their liquid into the cakes.
I apologize for the soft porn-like focus of this particular photograph. There was a lot of steam coming up from the pan. Plus I’m pretty sure the onion and celery are double teaming the orange bell pepper. GET A ROOM, VEGETABLES.
The salmon filets got a quick pan sear, and then Brian flaked them apart. This is partly because my back was getting to me and I needed to sit down for a minute, and partly because he is the more meticulous member of our pairing and will pull out a jeweler’s loupe and pair of tweezers to get every last segment of pinbone out of the fish.
He’s also very good at cleaning the floor after a glass shatters and getting dog shit out of shoe treads, whereas I am highly skilled at dropping breakables onto tile floors and not looking where I’m stepping. It’s one of the many reasons we’re such a successful partnership. That, and our shared love of Tim Gunn. Since neither one of us can have him, we may as well stay together.
For the cakes, I mixed the flaked salmon with the softened veg, panko breadcrumbs, curry powder, cayenne, salt and an egg. After mixing, it wasn’t quite moist enough but I didn’t think an additional egg was justified, so I added a touch of mayo.
State of the Union aside: It’s 2012, and the president STILL has to call on equal pay for woman for equal work. Luckily, we are one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of lip-plumping technology and stripping-as-exercise, so I suppose I accept the tradeoff.
The pound of salmon and assorted add-ins made six cakes sized perfectly to fit on a standard potato roll, which is the only kind of hamburger bun I will countenance in my presence.
I heated some butter, and crisped the cakes until they were heated through and golden brown. I fully admit that even at this point-of-no-return I was still doubtful about the salmon cakes, but they started to smell pretty fricking good. Two out of two household dogs agreed.
When they were done, I assembled the sandwiches; see Fig. 6. And yes, I admit that:
- I purchased butterhead lettuce specifically because I thought it would be more photogenic; and
- The tomato slices are just for show, because who in New Jersey eats supermarket tomatoes in the middle of January?
I waited for Brian to dig in before eating my sandwich, so I could see his reaction – unlike me, he grew up with and loves salmon cakes. The verdict: Success on all counts! The cake had a great texture – crisp on the outside, the veg still with a bit of crunch, tender fish – and the spices were just enough to make things interesting without overpowering the salmon. The yogurt was cooling, flavorful, bright and a perfect pairing. Plus, they’ll totally be good cold on a sandwich tomorrow.
Now, I ask a favor of you: leave a cheerful comment, won’t you? Or send cheesecake. Either will be fine.
1 pound fresh salmon filets
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
2 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper.
Heat two frying pans over medium heat and put one tablespoon of olive oil in each. Lay the salmon filets in one pan, and put the pepper, onion and celery in the other.
Cook the veg until just softened, 5-7 minutes. Cook the salmon until just done, flipping it once; about 5 minutes per side (tho this depends on the thickness of the fish).
Remove the cooked veg to a large bowl. Add the cooked fish and flake it apart with two forks.
Add the panko, egg, mayo, curry, cayenne and half a teaspoon of salt to the bowl; mix until well combined. Use your hands, it’s easier. Divide the mixture into six equal portions and shape them into cakes.
Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat; I re-used the fish pan. Saute the cakes until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
Serve immediately with yogurt sauce (recipe follows).
Herbed Yogurt Sauce
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. chopped mint
zest of 1/2 a lime
1/4. tsp ground cumin
1/4. tsp. ground coriander
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
Mix everything together in a bowl. The end.