L'Ennui…Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

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.

soft focus veg

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.

cakes to be

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.

Salmon Cakes
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.

25 thoughts on “L'Ennui…Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

  1. Mmm, those look amazing. I’ve eaten a lot of salmon patties and my boyfriend insists on eating them with mac and cheese and red pepper aioli (also delicious) but now I’ll have to insist on sandwich-style eating next time we make them.

  2. Canned salmon really grosses me out. I read a book by a lady who was all about eating it with all the bones in for the calcium, which I know is what people in Alaska have traditionally done (can it with the bones, which softens them enough for eating, and then eat the whole thing) for extra nutrients in the winter, but . . . I don’t live in Alaska. And I don’t like eating bones.

    Wait. Was that not cheerful? Okay, how about this for schadenfreude? After collecting a couple of eggs the other day from the chicken nest, I very cleverly put them in my coat pocket. Bet you can guess what I found when I reached in to take the eggs out of the pocket. Yup. Now THAT is gross. A slimy egg pocket is maybe even as gross as canned salmon.

  3. I grew up eating my mother’s salmon patties made from canned salmon. She believed eating the bones was good for us; I thought she was was trying to kill us. NOW – until today, it was the only recipe I had, but i improved it by feeding the skin and bones to the dogs, who seemed very happy with the crunchy parts. Your recipe, especially with the Greek yogurt sauce, looks and sounds SO much better. I will try it within the week.

    As for the cheesecake – several of us could get together and contribute to a Cheesecake of the Month club membership for you. Sort of in payment for your recipes, writing, etc.

  4. I have a cheerful link! As long as cheerful can mean surprisingly funny/snarky poetry about suffragists from the early 20th century. http://thehairpin.com/2012/01/are-women-people
    The “women are people, too” argument being made then still needs to be made now, unfortunately.
    I once had an incredibly awkward 20-something man ask me (the lifeguard on duty while he was swimming) how to talk to women. I (a woman, so obviously he can ask them weird questions) said “Women are people…? you talk to them like you talk to a person? What?” He seemed to think it was profound.

  5. That looks delicious. I can only imagine the flavor explosions from that salmon cake. Also, I like your website and your meat recipes make me want to eat pounds and pounds of meat. Mmm, meat.

  6. If one doesn’t have salmon handy, would crabmeat work? Perhaps modify a bit – scale back the veggies and seasonings a bit?
    Just wondering because I have no salmon, I do have crabmeat, and these look delicious for RIGHT NOW.

    Sorry, that wasn’t so much “cheeful” as “demanding”.

  7. I grew up eating canned salmon patties. I sometimes make them now, not because they are awesome (they are ok), but so I can eat the bones.

    As a kid, I had to share the bones with my 5 siblings. As a grown-up, I get them all. Yummy.

  8. I have a friend who lived along a famous, salmon-stocked river as a kid, and when we talk about hamburgers she talks about salmon burgers. When we talk about meat loaf, she says, “You mean, salmon loaf?” Any and all casseroles were salmon-based, and the salmon aspic was only surpassed by the salmon mousse in frequency at fancy Sunday church suppers. (Can’t you just picture the sprigs of dill and the suspended capers?)

    This recipe, in contrast, looks so good.

  9. @jenertia, shudder. two things i dislike, suspended in another thing i dislike.

    @celestine, i do love two little red hens, but i require the cheesecake to come to me.

  10. @ Kristin- Now, I *do* live in Alaska but do not like the bones. So, no stereotyping, k? :)

    But I do have to admit that our tomatoes are like your NJ January tomatoes year round. Yuk!

    As for a cheerful comment? I don’t know any but according to Steven Wright “The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to budget cuts”

    Happy Cooking!

  11. Unlike Kristin @ going country, I LOVE eating bones. But I’ll forgive any and all bone-haters out there since that means there’re more for me. Since ErinG already linked to the Hairpin, so I won’t do that, but, y’know, things will be okay. I’m having a really hard day myself, since it’s the first anniversary of my best friend’s death, but thinking about the little details of our friendship (arguments on whether it’s proper technique to pull a sock on, then a shoe, then a sock, then a shoe, or BOTH socks and then BOTH shoes; her hatred of beans so great we never ate at a Mexican restaurant in our twelve years of friendship; the time she forced me to ride a Ferris wheel and I cried) makes me feel weirdly better.

    Plus, if I’m not mistaken, you have dogs, and dogs are fantastic!

  12. “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.”

    This is exactly the way I feel right now.

    Your salmon cakes look really good, we’re having kraft mac and cheese for dinner. Ugh.

  13. I always thought that salmon cakes were fake canned meat held together with saltines and fried to near burnt. Holy moly the things I learn here! I might could actually try to eat these, but the bones vs no bones argument is a little icky for my delicate constitution.
    P.S. Best of luck on your five year plan! You made me swoon with your talk of BBQ.

  14. Must confess, I don’t like veg, but am fine with canned salmon, in cakes. Crab and shrimp work, too.

    Cheerful thought for the night: Gingrich and Romney both running attack ads on Spanish language tv in Miami.

  15. @trasherati, i think crab would be fine. i’d actually keep the crab and breadcumbs the same, but change up the seasoning; the curry and cayenne would be overwhelming.

  16. I rarely post but since you requested happy comments:
    I love your site. You post delicious recipes, and are on my list of cool people with crappy brain chemistry (I look at this list when my own crappy brain chemistry is getting to me). Plus I am totally planning an outer banks vacay for 5 years from now when you open your bbq joint.
    And for added happiness go to http://www.cuteoverload.com

  17. I just need to say that “GET A ROOM VEGETABLES” made me choke on my sandwich. I’m pretty sure I love you. How’s that for cheerful?

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