Food & Drink

Come together with salmon cakes

Fred’s Salmon Cakes recipe uses panko breadcrumbs, a Japanese breadcrumb sold at most grocery stores.
Fred’s Salmon Cakes recipe uses panko breadcrumbs, a Japanese breadcrumb sold at most grocery stores.

Salmon cakes (or patties) is a perfect recipe for March. It takes care of Lent, St. Patrick’s Day (yes, the Irish eat more salmon than corned beef) and is perfect for an Easter brunch. These are not the salmon cakes of old school lunches or your mother’s – although I must admit I loved those too.

I make the cakes with fresh salmon and liven it with a mixture of fresh herbs, making them bright and tasting more of the ocean. While I’ve suggested roasting the salmon, that’s just to get you started. Grilling or poaching the salmon will give equally great results. Most of the time I cook a couple of extra fillets when I am serving salmon and reserve two for the cakes later. Each cooking method tweaks the cakes’ flavor differently, but all are delicious.

Don’t tell the mayo haters that there’s mayo in the cakes; they won’t taste it. And for their sauce, just stir some fresh dill into honey mustard. They’ll love it.

Fred Thompson is a Raleigh cookbook author and publisher of Edible Piedmont magazine. Reach him at

Fred’s Salmon Cakes

Use panko breadcrumbs, a Japanese breadcrumb sold at most grocery stores. Serve with some roasted potatoes or asparagus and a great salad. Note: You can freeze the cakes. Form the salmon cakes, but do not cook. Place them on a baking sheet; freeze until firm. Wrap each cake in plastic; transfer to resealable freezer bags. Store up to one month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.

1 pound skinless salmon fillet

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Tabasco

1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs

1/4 chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Olive oil

World’s Best Tartar Sauce, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked to medium, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely; pat dry with paper towels. Break salmon into smaller pieces; flake with a fork.

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, dill and tarragon in a large mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, lemon juice and salmon. Mix gently until ingredients just hold together.

Form mixture into 8 patties (each about 2 1/2 inches wide). Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until cold and firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle with olive oil. When the oil simmers, add the salmon cakes but don’t crowd the pan. You may have to do two batches. Keep the first batch warm in a 200-degree oven. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then flip and finish for another 4 minutes. You can also broil the cakes. Heat your broiler. Broil patties until lightly golden on top (without turning), 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with the tarter sauce.

Yield: Serves 4, makes 8 cakes, 2 per serving.

World’s Best Tartar Sauce

This sauce gets better and better the longer it sits and will last a good month refrigerated. From NC Catch, provided by Jason’s Restaurant in Ocracoke.

2 cups good quality mayonnaise

1 small onion, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

2 dashes hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

Place the mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl.

Place the onion, parsley and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Pour into the bowl with the mayonnaise

Stir in the pickle relish, hot sauce, paprika, dill weed and mustard.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving; overnight is better.

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups