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Food lasts a long time in the freezer.
I mean, it really never goes bad bad, it just generally looses some of its taste and texture. But it would certainly be edible and it certainly won’t hurt you or kill you or anything like that. And that’s a good thing to know when you over-buy salmon at Pike’s Peak Market in Seattle and you still have some left in the freezer, in the Seal-a-Meal bags, that are now about 16 months in…or is that out?
The last time I took out a bag of salmon and made a regular “salmon” dinner, I just didn’t like the way it felt, texturally. The salmon tasted just fine, but the mouthfeel wasn’t there. So I decided to try to make salmon cakes with it. BB and I are both big fans of crab cakes, and his mother used to make “salmon croquettes”** all the time, using canned salmon, so I thought why not poach the salmon, flake it and make a salmon cake? So I did and that’s how Salmon Cakes with Spicy Remoulade came to be. And they turned out deliciously.
While I used my less than fresh, slightly over the recommended “use by” date (but only by a year after all); which I poached in a flavorful broth of water, white wine, leeks (which were also past their prime- but still with a lot of flavor); bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh thyme, parsley stalks, and sliced lemon, you could use canned salmon in its place, or even use fresher salmon. I think the poaching really adds a lot of flavor to the fish, so that’s my recommended preparation**.
I start by gently poaching the fish then I let it cool in the refrigerator. It is then flaked it, mixed with the other ingredients and then fried it up in my well-seasoned cast iron skillet. My well-seasoned cast iron skillet is becoming my most favorite pan. I have a set of rather high-end pans, Demeyere, which I do love, but I swear, they can hardly stand up to my $19.99 cast iron pan, at least not once that cast iron pan is properly seasoned.
I use panko in these salmon cakes, I like it better than bread crumbs as panko has a much lighter feel and doesn’t weigh down the fish. A little panko inside, just enough to make sure the patties hold together, and then a quick dredge on the outside to give them some crisp.
After mixing all the ingredients together and forming the patties, I put them in the refrigerator for a half an hour to “firm things up”. I think this step helped a lot in the cooking process, keeping it all together without needing to use too much panko. If you don’t have time, I’m sure the only challenge you might have is in the turning process…but there’s a hint below to make that easier as well.
Another reason to love my cast iron pan, I hardly need to use any oil to get these fine results…
Just enough oil was used to coat the pan at about 1/4 inch. And I didn’t need to add any to brown the other side, so I’m saying it was maybe 2 tablespoons total.
You might also notice in the above photo, that there are two spatulas.
Because I really kind of overloaded the pan, which wasn’t a problem, until I had to turn the salmon cakes. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room to get a standard spatula under the salmon cake without breaking it up; so I used my offset spatula, generally used to frost cakes or spread batter evenly in a pan, as an aid and it worked perfectly.
A sauce or remoulade is always a challenge for me. BB HATES mayonnaise, well, unless I work it very carefully. It’s rather funny because he was known at USC for his “Baked Mayonnaise Crab Goodies” that he regularly brought to house parties, but maybe that was because they were all too drunk to notice the mayo or perhaps it was that they were just a bunch of college kids who were hungry at the time. I don’t judge. I only report.
I think crab or salmon cakes need a topping. So I came up with this remoulade, which does use mayo, along with some spices, to make it un-mayo like and more spicy tartar sauce like. Adding more capers, red peppers, Dijon mustard and spices took it way to another level. A really really good level IMHO. You can adjust your spice level as you like, I used a spice I found called Slap yo Mama, which is spicy and salty, so I didn’t add any more salt to the mix. If you don’t use that, and only the cayenne pepper, then add a pinch of salt. As always, taste and adjust seasoning.
So that’s it. A very nice Salmon Cake with Spicy Remoulade…easy peasy, dinner in less than 30 (after you have cooked your salmon – but hey, you could do that the day before).
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium heat; when hot, add the salmon cakes. Cook until golden brown, carefully turn and cook until the other side is brown and they are hot throughout. Serve the salmon cakes with the remoulade.
*To poach the fish: Bring enough water and about 1 cup of white wine to a simmer over a medium heat, add some leek (or green onion), a sprig or two of fresh thyme and parsley, along with a bay leaf torn in half. Add 10 – 12 peppercorns, and a lemon, thinly sliced. Let these simmer for 5 – 10 minutes; add the fish and simmer, covered, for 5 -7 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes more. The fish should be cooked through. Remove the fish, cover and refrigerate until cool. Proceed with the recipe.
**OK…this is a Paula Deen Recipe here for Salmon Croquettes, that just shows how being a FOOD NETWORK star does not mean you know how to either cook or write a recipe. Really? Hot salmon sautéed in a pan and you are forming patties???? Well, that’s just a dumb instruction. Plus it seems pretty flavorless to me…how about you?
Wine Recommendation: We enjoyed this with a 2011 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. It would work well with any Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc or even a Pinot Gris (Grigio). The capers bring a bit of pickle to the dish, that along with the roasted red pepper, creamy mayonnaise and Slap yo Mama, or cayenne keeps it in the white not Pinot family of wines. I know, salmon and pinot are a natural pair, but as always, I like to “shake it up”.
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