With salmon filets and steaks running up toward twenty bucks a pound at the fish counter, this time of year, when I'm craving it, I buy the whole fish, head on, for much less per pound. This way you get the (cleaned) fish, which you can throw on the grill with herbs and lemon stuffed into the cavity. You can also have your fishmonger filet it, or you can slice it into steaks yourself. But any way you choose to cook it, make sure to save the head, fins and tail to make a terrific fish broth for your next risotto or paella.
With out-of-town friends coming over for dinner, and wanting to share some of the crazy goodness of the Northwest, we grilled a whole salmon with a side of wild mushroom risotto and a salad of seasonal greens. Throw in some local red to go with the fish, a fruit crisp made with the last of the frozen berries to top off the meal, and they were putty in our hands. Even with everyone eating their fill, there was a good amount of fish left over…which fit into my clever plan to make salmon cakes for dinner a couple of nights later.
These cakes are great as an appetizer or with a salad for a simple dinner, and they also make a great breakfast with eggs, sautéed greens and a slice of homemade bread. It's not necessary to have all the ingredients—the fish, mayo and eggs are the critical ingredients—so the seasonings can go in any direction you desire. These are meant to be mostly meat, with just enough of the other ingredients to (barely) hold it together.
And if you ever happen to have any leftover smoked salmon (does that really happen?), that would be the gilding on this particular lily.
2 c. cooked salmon, flaked
1-2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 c. minced red or green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely minced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/4 c. bread crumbs
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
Combine salmon with other ingredients (except oil) and mix thoroughly. Form into loose cakes about 2" across. Can be refrigerated at this point, which will firm up the cakes a bit, but it's not necessary. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in medium frying pan until it shimmers. Put cakes in pan, but don't crowd them—do them in batches if necessary. Cook until browned, then carefully flip them over and brown on the other side. Makes about eight cakes.