Homemade Crispy Salmon Fish Cakes

Homemade Crispy Salmon Fish Cakes

Homemade smoky salmon fish cakes

Calling these “fish cakes” really doesn’t do these crispy succulent patties justice. The “fish” part is right, but “cake” infers flour, fat, and eggs with a bread-like crumb. These Salmon Fish Cakes have none of that.

When my family and I lived in Denmark, a favorite family outing was to our local harbor where the fish market sold fish cakes or fiskefrikadeller, created from the daily catches hauled in on the fishing boats. When the fish were fileted, all the extra pieces were reserved for fist sized fish patties sold by the bagful with containers of remoulade, or tartar sauce, meant to be devoured family-style at the picnic tables perched over the sea. Every harbor with a fish market sold fish cakes, and the recipes were similar, made with white fish, such as plaice or cod, simply spiced and bound together with flour and egg, then pan or, more often, deep fried. Their flavor was mild, thanks to the white fish and simple seasonings, and they were very easy to eat, best washed down with a cold Danish beer (or juice for the kids) in the summer sun.

While nothing could beat fresh fiskefrikadeller at the seashore during the summer, at home I would make my own fish cakes with the goal to create a more healthy and tasty family dinner. I wanted something lighter and brighter, with more fish flavor and less filler. After many renditions, I arrived at this recipe, which I now use as a template. While I vary the fish at times, depending on what’s fresh and available, the amounts remain constant, as does the inclusion of some, if not all, salmon to the mix. I find that salmon’s thick and buttery flesh yields a rich, tasty, and sturdy fish cake, and for deeper flavor I’ll often add cold smoked salmon, which adds a salty, smoky (and addictive) edge to the cakes. Fresh herbs, lemon, and chopped chiles balance out the richness of the fish, while the binder is kept to a minimum – just a dollop of Greek yogurt and Panko breadcrumbs, which do double duty as a crisp coating for the patties. The results are fresh, vibrant, and flavorful, and prove that you that can, indeed, take the cake out of the fish cake.

Salmon Fish Cakes with Lemon-Chile Yogurt Sauce

The fish cakes may be formed up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated until pan frying. If desired, more salmon may be substituted for the halibut for a 100 percent salmon fish cake.

Makes  about 16 (2-inch) cakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Fish cakes:
1 pound salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ounces thick white fish filet, such as halibut or cod, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 ounces cold smoked salmon filet, skin and pin bones removed, coarsely chopped
1 small red jalapeno or fresno chile, stemmed and seeded, minced
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, plus 1 1/2 cups for rolling
1/4 cup coarsely grated yellow onion, with juices
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley and/or cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Canola or grapeseed oil for pan frying
Lemon wedges

1. Combine the salmon, white fish, and smoked salmon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times to finely chop without over processing – the consistency should be slightly chunky and not mushy. Transfer the fish to a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, the onion, parsley, yogurt, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

2. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl. Using a soup spoon, scoop out a generous amount of the salmon mixture. With a light hand, carefully form the mixture into a plump two-inch patty. Gently roll the patty in the breadcrumbs to evenly coat and place on platter, lightly pressing the patty to slightly flatten into about a 1/2 inch-thick cake. Repeat with the remaining fish, adding more breadcrumbs to the bowl as needed. Loosely cover the platter with plastic and refrigerate the fish cakes for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

3. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until use.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. In batches, carefully add the fish cakes to the pan without overcrowding. Fry the cakes until golden brown and cooked through, turning once with a spatula, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cakes to a plate lined with a paper towel and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining fish cakes. Transfer the cakes to a warm serving platter and garnish with the parsley or cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and the yogurt sauce.

Danish Layer Cake (Lagkage) and Camilla Plum

Danish Lagkage tastefood

When it comes to baking I am not perfect. I embrace presentations that are what they are – not too fussy, but simple, honest and fresh (as we should embrace ourselves, right?) It was my daughter’s birthday recently, and her favorite cake is lagkage, a traditional Danish cake consisting of layers of genoise or vanilla cake, whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s beautifully simple – no piping, no bling, just vanilla-infused cake and slathers of  whipped cream smushed with macerated fruit. The only decorations are oodles of berries and pretty snipped edible flowers and herbs from the garden. Actually, it’s…perfect.

I adapted this cake from a cookbook by Danish food icon, Camilla Plum. She is a Danish chef who, in addition to her television shows, cookbooks and garden books, has an organic farm an hour outside of Copenhagen, open to the public on weekends. During the summers you can stroll through her fields, orchards and greenhouses. Her sprawling and well-lived property includes a shop with organic produce, fruit and flowers from her farm, as well as organic meats, kitchenwares and, of course, her cookbooks.

DK camilla plum

 

DK plum is

There is also a cozy cafe where you can  enjoy a slice of lagkage with a cup of coffee or hyldeblomst (elderflower juice) outside in the gardens before heading home.  Just watch out, you might also leave with a kitten.

DK lagekage

DK kitten

Danish Layer Cake (Lagkage) with Whipped Cream and Berries

The cakes may be divided into 2 or 3 thin layers. Feel free to use as many layers as you like when assembling the cake. Recipe translated and adapted from Blomstrende Mad (Flowering Food) by Camilla Plum.

Cake:
8 large eggs
1 3/4 cups (375g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (50g) almond meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
5 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups (250g) unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup raspberries, plus more for decorating

Assorted berries (raspberries, sliced strawberries, currants)
Fresh edible flowers, herb sprigs and leaves for garnish

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and butter the parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gently mix in the almond meal, vanilla, and lemon zest. Stir in the butter. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a small bowl, then add to the eggs. Gently mix just until combined without over mixing. Divide among prepared pans. Bake until light golden and tops spring back when pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on racks. Remove the cakes from pans and slice horizontally in half (or thirds).

Make the cream:
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk are apparent. Add the sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Place 1 cup raspberries in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add half of the whipped cream and gently stir to combine.

Assemble:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate and top with raspberry cream. Repeat with remaining layers. Spread the remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake. Top with fresh berries. Garnish with snipped edible flowers and/or herbs.

 

Glogg, Aebleskivers and Christmas in Copenhagen

denmark xmas~ Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen ~

It’s that time of year again, and like all good traditions that bear repeating, I will share my recipes for gløgg and aæbleskivers with you. This year I will experience these Danish Christmas delights first hand – I leave today for Copenhagen and one week of touring, writing and eating my way around this beautiful city and its environs, while I indulge my love for all things Nordic and my desire to share the magic of Christmas in Denmark with all of you.

Julestemning, København

You might think that Denmark is cold and dark at this time of year (it is!) but it’s also the coziest and most festive place to be during the holiday season with Christmas markets, Tivoli Gardens, and gleaming shopping streets lined with flagship stores displaying impeccable Danish design and half-timbered boutiques glowing in the dusky light. Open fires line the pedestrian walkways, warming hands and roasting chestnuts, while street carts and storefronts dole out steaming cups of gløgg and sugared æbleskivers to keep the energy up and spirits warm. You can be sure I’ll be drinking all of this in, and while I do that, I’ll share these recipes with you, so you, too, can  join in the Scandinavian holiday spirit.aebleskivers tf011

Danish Æbleskivers

Referred to as pancakes, dumplings or even doughnut holes in English, Danish æbleskivers are served as a treat throughout the month of December. While you can buy aebleskivers pre-frozen in the shops, nothing beats the vanilla and cardamom scent and tender texture of homemade æbleskivers. To make them you will need a special æbleskivers pan, which is a skillet with 6 to 8 round indentations. Cast iron is best.

Makes about 20.

1  1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast or .6 ounce fresh yeast (1 cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs, separatedUnsalted European-style butter
Strawberry or raspberry preserves
Powdered sugar

Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm.  Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add yeast and let it dissolve.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl.  Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the dry ingredients.  Whisk the egg yolks into the milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff.  Fold into batter.  Let stand one hour at room temperature.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in each indentation of an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full.  Cook until golden brown underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, turn æbleskivers over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer æbleskivers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with remaining batter.  Serve æbleskivers with powdered sugar and preserves. Accompany with gløgg.

glogg wine TasteFood

Gløgg
Serves 8 to 10
For the garnish:
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/2 cup whole almonds (optional)
For the gløgg:
1 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 untreated or organic oranges, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles full-bodied red wineFresh orange slices as garnish
Prepare the garnish:
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins may be prepared up to one week in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use). Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.
Prepare the gløgg:
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes. Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not let the gløgg come to a boil (lest the spirits will evaporate!)To serve, add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds, if using, to a glass or mug.  Strain gløgg into glass.  Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve with a spoon for scooping up the raisins and almonds.
*Tivoli and storefront image courtesy of VistiDenmark.

Advent at Dusk and Danish Aebleskivers

aebleskivers tf011 ~ Danish Aebleskivers ~

It’s raining, and I don’t mind it one bit. It reminds me of Denmark when we made aebleskivers in the days leading up to Christmas. While we rush about today making final preparations for guests and our Christmas Eve dinner, I’ll be making a batch of these aebleskivers to enjoy before the fire, when we’ll raise our glass to our family members far and wide and reflect on our memories of Christmas in Denmark.

This week I contributed an article to Food Quarterly called Advent at Dusk. It shares a few Danish memories and transports you for bit to the Scandinavian countryside at Christmas, deep in the woods, replete with holly, moss and forest spirits. It also has a link to my recipe for these aebleskivers, so go have a look. In the meantime, I wish all of you a very happy holiday filled with warmth, friends, loved ones – and good food.
~
aebleskiver pan
Danish Æbleskivers

Referred to as pancakes, dumplings or even doughnut holes in English, Danish æbleskivers are served as a treat throughout the month of December. While you can buy aebleskivers pre-frozen in the shops, nothing beats the vanilla and cardamom scent and tender texture of homemade pancakes. To make them you will need a special æbleskivers pan, which is a skillet with 6 to 8 round indentations. Cast iron is best.

Makes 20.

1  1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast or .6 ounce fresh yeast (1 cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs, separatedUnsalted European-style butter
Strawberry or raspberry preserves
Powdered sugar

Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm.  Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add yeast and let it dissolve.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl.  Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the dry ingredients.  Whisk the egg yolks into the milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff.  Fold into batter.  Let stand one hour at room temperature.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in each indentation of an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full.  Cook until golden brown underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, turn æbleskivers over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer æbleskivers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with remaining batter.  Serve æbleskivers with powdered sugar and preserves. Accompany with gløgg.

Scandinavian Potato Salad

Scandinavian Potato Salad


I call this a Scandinavian Potato Salad, because I discovered this fresh and light-handed potato salad years ago in Denmark. Most likely it was at a frequent family gathering, in the shadow of a thatched roof farmhouse in the Danish countryside, seated at a long wooden table outdoors with the summer sun hanging, as if caught on the hook of the horizon, refusing to sink as evening set in. I know it was summer, because that’s when the potato is at its peak in new-ness and considered not only a staple but a delicacy to be greedily devoured. I was smitten by the salad’s restraint, simply tossed with oil and vinegar and generously showered with fresh snipped herbs from the garden. As an American, my experience with potato salads to that point had been the heavy-handed mayo-egg sort, tasty for sure, but more of a cloak and disguise to the mild-mannered potato. I would prod a fork through those murky salads swathed in cream, sugar and oil  in an attempt to fish out any morsel of potato, which by then had no flavor except that of the coating with which it was blanketed. The Danish potato salad was delightfully different, and appropriately Scandinavian in its understatement and use of fresh ingredients, celebrating the humble potato with a confetti of the garden’s herbs. Most importantly: I could taste the potato.  And when the season’s newest potatoes are available, delicately sweet and faintly redolent of butter and grass, there is nothing as sublime as the taste of potato.

Scandinavian Potato Salad

I refer to this salad as “potatoes and herbes du jour,”  because the combination of herbs is up to your taste and whatever might be growing in your garden. The chili flakes are my contribution to this salad, since I am hopelessly hooked on a little kick of heat. Serves 6.

3 pounds new potatoes or fingerlings, washed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups fresh herbs, chopped, such as parsley, mint, dill, oregano, chervil

Bring a large pot of salted water and the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain. If using larger potatoes, cool slightly, then cut in 3/4-inch chunks. Toss with oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic, salt, pepper and optional chili flakes. Cool completely. Before serving, add fresh herbs and mix well. If salad is too dry, add additional olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

For more Scandinavian inspiration, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Red Berry Soup
Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill
Shrimp and Dill Open-Face Sandwich (Smørrebrød)

 

Summer Beach Grill Party: BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Last weekend we celebrated the summer solstice with our annual BBQ and bonfire at the beach. This is a Nordic tradition we happily packed up with us from Denmark, where the longest day of the year is celebrated in true viking-style with feasting, fire, libations, and an effigy which is burned to ward off evil spirits. Since the sun sets over the sea at 9 pm in California and not at midnight during the Scandinavian midnight sun, we enjoy an abbreviated version, Pacific-style, before the park rangers shepherd us off the beaches – or the residents call the police. This year was spectacular, with warm weather, tame winds and a hopping crowd of 50 wannabe vikings. As hosts, we took responsibility for the Danish beer, grillables and fire setting, while everyone else brought side dishes desserts, beach chairs, lots of kids and wine. It truly takes a village! On the menu were these sticky spiced ribs – inspired by a delectable recipe from my friend Karen who brought them along last year. (She is on tour in Italy right now with her band which is another story in itself.) Continue Reading Grilled BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Danish Aebleskivers

Danish Aebleskivers

aebleskivers tf011

 

Danish Æbleskivers

Referred to as pancakes, dumplings or even doughnut holes in English, Danish æbleskivers are served as a treat throughout the month of December. While you can buy aebleskivers pre-frozen in the shops, nothing beats the vanilla and cardamom scent and tender texture of homemade pancakes. To make them you will need a special æbleskivers pan, which is a skillet with 6 to 8 round indentations. Cast iron is best. Makes 20.

1  1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast or .6 ounce fresh yeast (1 cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs, separated

Unsalted European-style butter
Strawberry or raspberry preserves
Powdered sugar

Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm.  Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add yeast and let it dissolve.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl.  Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the dry ingredients.  Whisk the egg yolks into the milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff.  Fold into batter.  Let stand one hour at room temperature.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in each indentation of an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full.  Cook until golden brown underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, turn æbleskivers over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer æbleskivers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with remaining batter.  Serve æbleskivers with powdered sugar and preserves. Accompany with gløgg.