Tag Archives: salmon

Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

~ Charcutepalooza Challenge #8: Mousseline (and Cinematic Musings) ~

Even Fred Flintstone needs a break from meat now and then. I’ve been eating lots of red meat lately, so I was pleased that this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge presented the option of making a fish or seafood mousseline. What a delightful break from all of the meatiness. If previous challenges invoked the Flintstones, then this challenge was akin to Bambi. As I embarked upon this challenge my vision shifted from a Quentin Tarantino blood and guts filled trailer to a dreamy, gauze-filtered Jane Austen period piece. I pictured a tea party, replete with platters of finger sandwiches and fluffy delicate mousseline, and birds and butterflies fluttering around the garden table.

Yet even Bambi has its dark side. In this case it was the absolute cyclone that hit my kitchen while making and photographing this recipe. (Come to think of it, this seems to happen with most Charcutepalooza challenges). If you saw The Sixth Sense, do you remember the scene where all of the kitchen cabinets are flung open in a moment of fearful suspense? That is the state of my kitchen at this moment – utter disarray, overturned pots and pans, rejected food props, gooey knives, soiled kitchen towels, flung open drawers and doors. I am sure the refrigerator is still ajar, and most likely a few 4-legged gremlins are lurking about. Mighty scary, indeed. So if you will excuse me, I have some cleaning and possible exorcising to do.  Then I will change my clothes and sit down for my Charcutepalooza-Jane Austen inspired tea party.

Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

I love kale and frequently pair it with salmon, so I couldn’t resist creating a ribbon of kale to encase the mousseline. As a surprise, I nestled a scallop in the middle of the mousse, which is an optional step. (Note: If you add the scallop it will infuse the salmon mousseline with a lovely sweet and briny flavor).
To pull it all together on the plate I made a simple tomato coulis which adds a bright acidic note to the luxurious mousse. Makes 6.

6 large kale leaves, split in half lengthwise, stems and ribs removed
1 pound salmon filet, skin and pin bones removed, cut in 1 inch chunks
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
3 sea scallops, halved horizontally
Tomato Coulis (recipe below)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add kale leaves and blanch 15 seconds. Remove with tongs and shock under cold water. Lay flat on a kitchen towel and pat dry.
Combine salmon, egg whites, shallots, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth. Transfer salmon to a bowl and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 F. (160 C.) Lightly oil (6) 3/4 cup ramekins. Carefully line the sides of the ramekins with the kale leaves. Remove salmon from refrigerator. Fold in 1/2 cup whipping cream. Return salmon to refrigerator. Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream in bowl of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold into salmon mixture. Spoon half of the salmon mixture into the ramekins. Nestle a scallop half in center of salmon. Top with remaining salmon.
Place ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover with buttered parchment. Bake in oven until puffed, firm and cooked through, about 35 minutes. (A toothpick will come clean when inserted in the middle).
Remove ramekins from oven and water bath. Invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle Tomato Coulis around the mousselines. Garnish with dill and lemon.

Tomato Coulis
Makes about 1 cup

1 pound ripe plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make shallow incisions around the stem with a paring knife and scoop out the stem. With same knife, make a shallow X-incision in bottom of tomato. Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil.  Plunge tomato into water for 10 seconds.  Remove and submerge in a bowl of ice water. Remove the cooled tomato from the water.  Peel away skin. To seed the tomato, cut the tomato in half.  Use your fingers to scoop out seeds and remove the core.
Combine tomatoes and olive oil in bowl of food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving.  (Can be made one day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate.)  Serve at room temperature.

Sriracha Baked Salmon and Cauliflower

Salmon, cauliflower, sriracha and a little parsley.

Salmon, cauliflower and sriracha come together beautifully in this easy
and healthy recipe. The heat of the sriracha is tamed by baking, while it amplifies the flavors of the salmon and cauliflower. It’s delicious as is, or serve it with a dollop of Roasted Pepper and Sriracha Sauce. Can you tell that I love sriracha?

Sriracha Salmon and Cauliflower
Serves 4

Salmon:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 salmon filet, 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
1 small cauliflower, trimmed, broken into florets
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish

Roasted Pepper and Sriracha Sauce
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, skinned
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sriracha
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk olive oil and sriracha together in a small bowl. Arrange salmon in a baking pan. Brush with the sriracha oil.
Slice cauliflower florets in 1/4 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Pour remaining oil over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Scatter the cauliflower around the salmon. Sprinkle salmon and cauliflower with salt and pepper.
Bake in oven until salmon is cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Garnish with parsley. Serve with Sriracha Roasted Pepper Sauce.

To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl of a food processor. Puree to form a smooth sauce.

Smoking Hot: Salmon and a Smoky Chowder Recipe


Smoked Salmon Chowder

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is smoking hot, all right. The instructions? To hot smoke pork or salmon. Last month I wined and brined a pork rib roast, so I decided to go fish this month. After all, who can resist a slab of succulent, smoky salmon? In our home it’s considered it’s own food group.

I made several filets, knowing that if I didn’t look out, the smoked salmon would be gobbled straight up before I could embellish or create a recipe with it. My strategy was to centrally place a finished piece in the refrigerator for sacrificial consumption – a decoy, if you will – while I stashed another couple of hunks in the crisper for later creative use.

First things first, the hot and smoking method is simpler than you may think. Methods abound using smokers, weber grills, woks, stovetop smokers. I have a weber kettle grill, which I’ve often used for smoking, so chose that method. The salmon should be brined first, which may be done in as little as an hour or over several days. The longer brine time results in salmon gravlax, which produces saltier, more flavorful results – perfect if you wish to enjoy the fish au natural. I didn’t want to wait, opting for a 2 hour brine, followed by air-drying and smoking the fish, all of which I accomplished within an entire day.


Fast forward a day, and, as expected, the decoy fish was quickly consumed. It’s been raining lately, and I have had a hankering for a creamy, smoky chowder. I make chowders all the time, and always include a smoky component – either in the form of smoked fish or bacon. In this rendition, the only fish I used for the chowder was the hot smoked salmon. The results were wickedly good.

Smoked Salmon Chowder
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound russet or yukon potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups water
2 pounds hot smoked salmon, broken in chunks (or 1 pound smoked salmon + 1 pound uncooked salmon filet)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil and butter in a deep skillet or soup pot. Add onion, fennel and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until the onion becomes translucent and the fennel softens, 3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add potatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender but not too soft, 15 minutes. Stir in salmon, cream and black pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Taste for salt – depending on how salty the salmon is, you may need more. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley or chopped fennel sprigs.

Holiday Entertaining: Salmon Gravlax

You say Christmas, and I say Gravlax. The holiday season is not complete without executing a recipe for home-cured salmon gravlax. Don’t be daunted. This is an entertainer’s dream. The salmon is easily prepared in advance and stowed in the refrigerator to cure for 2 days. All you need to do is unwrap and remove the spice cure, slice and serve. The results are the essence of Nordic cuisine: minimal and elegant. Fennel, dill and pepper fleck the meltingly soft salmon which tastes of the sea. How can you argue with that?

Gravlax (gravlaks in Danish and Norwegian or gravad lax in Swedish) literally means salmon in a grave or hole.  During the middle ages fisherman would salt salmon and let it ferment by burying it in a hole above high-tide line. Nowadays it’s not necessary to bury salmon in sand, but, rather in salt and sugar and banish it to the refrigerator.  The salmon will cure over several days, during which the salt and sugar will turn into liquid, creating a brine.

Salmon Gravlax

Serves a party.

Salt and sugar are necessary ingredients for curing, while fresh or dried herbs, peppercorns, citrus or spirits are frequently added to the brine for additional flavor. This recipe adds dill, fennel, peppercorns and akavit for flavor and spice. Choose a fish which is very fresh with a firm consistency. I use an Atlantic fish, such as Loch Duart Salmon.

One side of salmon, about 3 pounds (1.5 kg) with skin, pin bones removed
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
10 ounces (350 g) sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup fresh dill sprigs, chopped
1 cup fennel fronds, finely chopped
1/4 cup Akavit or vodka

Lightly toast the peppercorns and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and finely ground to a powder. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the salt and sugars. Rub the fish all over with the spices mix.

Line a long baking pan or dish with plastic wrap.  Place half of the dill sprigs and half of the fennel fronds over the plastic wrap.  Arrange the salmon, skin-side down on the herbs.  Sprinkle the Akavit over the salmon. Top with the remaining dill and fennel. Cover with additional plastic wrap, sealing the fish.  Place a heavy pan or tray on the fish. Weigh down the pan with cans or bottles.  Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

To serve, remove the fish from refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap. Pour off the collected juices and wipe off excess brine and dill.  Slice diagonally from one corner of the salmon towards the center of the fillet.

Fold a slice of gravlax on toasted brioche bread or white bread.  Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice and smear a spoonful of Honey Dill Mustard on the fish.  Garnish with a dill sprig.

Honey Dill Mustard

1/4 cup honey mustard
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup chopped dill sprigs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify.  Stir in the dill, pepper and salt.

Grilled Soy and Mustard Marinated Fish Kebabs

Fish Kebabs

This weekend we are hosting my husband’s extended family for a dinner. Whenever we visit Denmark we do this at least once. Each time, I try to make food that they may not ordinarily eat but I know they will enjoy. Danish cuisine is simple, reflecting Scandinavian understatement while influenced by long winters and finicky summer weather. As a result, menus are usually limited and repetitive, taking full advantage of fresh food on hand before its fleeting season disappears. When I cook in Denmark, I like to prepare equally simple and seasonal food, while introducing additional flavors, spices and combinations not usually served in Danish homes.

This recipe for Grilled Soy and Mustard Marinated Fish Kebabs is my go-to recipe for grilling fish. It’s easy to make and somewhat unusual with the addition of grated onion, which adds sweetness and texture to the marinade which is rounded out with salty soy sauce and sharp mustard. Simple, fresh and a little different – this will be perfect for the barbeque and entertaining this weekend.

Grilled Soy and Mustard Fish Kebabs

This marinade suits most firm-fleshed fish on the grill, such as swordfish, salmon, halibut, or tuna. Serves 6.

1 medium yellow onion, grated, with juices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds thick fleshed fish (salmon, halibut, swordfish, tuna) cut in 1 1/2″ chunks
Optional: 1 large red onion, 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Pre-soak 12 bamboo skewers in hot water 30 minutes before using.
Combine onion, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard and pepper in a large bowl; whisk together. Add fish to marinade and toss gently to coat.  Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 3 hours.
Prepare grill for medium-hot heat or broiler. Thread 4 pieces of fish on each skewer, alternating with pepper and onion pieces if using. Discard marinade. Grill over direct heat, turning, until fish is charred and just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Arrange on a platter and garnish with parsley sprigs.

Baked Salmon and Kale Wraps with Dill and Harissa

Salmon Kale

Beautiful green Tuscan kale and fresh atlantic salmon from the market along with deliriously happy dill growing in the garden were the inspiration for this recipe. The salmon fillets are wrapped in kale leaves with a little lemon and dill and then baked on a bed of more dill. To top off the salmon, a spoonful of homemade Harissa is added as a garnish. This dish is simple, fresh, delicious and healthy.

Salmon Kale Baked

Baked Salmon and Kale Wraps with Dill and Harissa
Other herbs or a combination may be substituted for dill; try parsley, mint or coriander. Fennel is another good substitute. Makes 8.

8 large kale leaves
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch dill sprigs with stems
1 lemon
4 thick salmon fillets, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Harissa (or sriracha)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale leaves, and blanch briefly, 15 seconds. Transfer to ice water to cool. Drain and dry thoroughly on a kitchen towel.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat bottom of a baking pan with olive oil. Select 8 large dill sprigs without stems and set aside. Scatter remaining dill sprigs with stems over bottom of pan.
Cut lemon in half. Set one half aside. Remove the skin, pith and pits from the remaining half and cut in 4 slices. Cut each slice in half so there are 8 segments.
Brush salmon filets with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Top each filet half with a dill sprig and lemon slice. Place salmon on kale leaf. Wrap leave around salmon and place on dill in baking pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining salmon and kale. Brush Salmon and Kale wraps with olive oil. Squeeze the reserved lemon half over each wrap. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Bake in preheated 350 oven until salmon is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Garnish salmon with a spoonful of harissa. Serve with rice and additional sauce on the side.

Baked Salmon with Baby Fennel, Mustard and Tarragon

Salmon Fennel tf

I love it when I can go to the farmer’s market on a Sunday and come home with …. fish. And not just any fish, but fresh-off-the-boat fish that tastes of the sea. Call me provincial European or mentally land-locked, but fresh fish on a Sunday?  At a Farmer’s Market?

Mind you, this is no ordinary farmer’s market. The San Rafael Farmer’s Market is one of the largest open air markets in California.  Each Sunday, farmers, purveyors and artisans gather in the shadow of the Marin County Civic Center, a stunning Frank Lloyd Wright construction, and sell their goods. Open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. you can easily pack a full day into several hours. Arrive early before the crowds, and enjoy a cappuccino or latte with an authentic Belgian Waffle or flaky French croissant. Then wander through the stalls and purchase seasonal vegetables and fruit, local cheese, meat and, of course, fish. It’s easy to overload on purchases and nibbles, freely offered throughout the market. Feeling tired? Take a break and listen to live music and enjoy a mid-morning snack of dim sum or artisanal pastry. Kids antsy? Give them a pony ride or a jump on a bouncy castle. If that’s worked up another appetite, finish with pizza or grilled organic sausages, falafel or panini. Then head home with your goodies, and plan your dinner.

Dinner on Sunday is always fun. Inspired by our purchases, a meal is created, usually simple, always seasonal and fresh. Which brings me to the fish. In the past 2 weeks we have twice been served gorgeous salmon filets by friends who have also been to the farmer’s market. Each time it has been so delicious and fresh that this Sunday we craved more and made a beeline for the fish stall. The salmon we purchased was so pristine, I didn’t even want to grill it and introduce any charred flavor to its buttery flesh. When we came home, I decided to marinate and bake it with fresh tarragon and baby fennel, which I also bought at the market. So, yes, we can get fresh fish at the Sunday Farmer’s Market. And, yes, we are very lucky.


Baked Salmon with Fennel, Mustard and Tarragon

The licorice flavors of the tarragon and fennel combine beautifully with fresh salmon in this easy and elegant spring dish. This recipe can easily be expanded to feed a crowd. Serves 4-5.

1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 pounds salmon filets, pin bones removed
2-3 baby fennels, cut in half lengthwise; fronds trimmed, chopped and reserved

Smash the garlic clove with the salt in a mortar with a pestle. Add the tarragon and bruise with the pestle. Whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, zest and a small bunch of the reserved fennel fronds. Arrange salmon filets in one layer in a baking dish. Place fennel halves around the salmon. Pour the tarragon oil over the fish and fennel and spread to cover evenly. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before baking. Bake in a preheated 350 F. (180 C.) oven until fish is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Gravlax and Christmas

Gravlaks

The Danish Christmas season would not be complete without many Christmas Lunches. Christmas Lunch is the ubiquitous term for a multi-coursed feast punctuated by multiple toasts with schnaps, beer and wine.  The season for these festive lunches spans the weeks of advent to several days following Christmas day.  “Lunch” is actually a misnomer, since these smorgasbords can take place either during the day or evening.

A traditional Danish Christmas Lunch begins with a fish course, followed by meat, cheese and dessert. To me, the fish course sums up the beauty of nordic cuisine: Fresh, minimalist and refined. Herring, fjord shrimp and salmon are served open-faced on various breads (smørrebrød) with garnishes. There are many herring preparations: marinated with dill, folded in curried cream, spiced with wine and cloves. Every family has their own recipe which they think is best.  Fjord shrimp are another Nordic delicacy: tiny shrimp the size of a fingernail, painstakingly peeled and artfully arranged in a towering piles on soft white french bread, and crowned with a dollop of creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon.

My favorite fish is gravlax. It’s preparation and presentation are the essence of Nordic cuisine in simplicity and taste.Salmon is cured over days until it is meltingly soft with a clean taste of the sea. It’s edges are flecked with pepper and dill and tinged with salt, adding a restrained flavor that doesn’t overpower the fish.

Gravlax Platter

Every Christmas I make my own Gravlax which we enjoy on Christmas day or New Years Eve.  It’s very easy to prepare.  Pay attention to the quality of the fish:  It must be very fresh with a good consistency, not too mushy and preferably an Atlantic fish, such as Loch Duart Salmon.   To serve, fold a slice of Gravlax on toasted brioche bread.  Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice and smear a spoonful of Honey Dill Mustard  on the fish.  Garnish with a dill sprigs.

Gravlax

Gravlax (gravlaks in Danish and Norwegian or gravad lax in Swedish) literally means salmon in a grave or hole.  During the middle ages fisherman would salt salmon and let it ferment by burying it in a hole above high-tide line. Nowadays (unelss you wish to connect with your inner-viking) it’s not necessary to bury salmon in sand, but, rather in salt and sugar and let it sit in the refrigerator.  The salmon will cure over several days, during which the salt and sugar will turn into liquid, creating a brine.

Serves a party

One side of salmon, about 3 lbs. (1.5 kg.), with skin, pin bones removed
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
10 oz. (350 g.) sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup fresh dill sprigs
1/4 cup Akavit or vodka

Finely grind peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.  Mix pepper, salt, and sugars together in a medium bowl.   Rub fish all over with salt mixture.  Line a long baking pan or dish with plastic wrap.  Place half the dill sprigs over plastic wrap.  Arrange salmon, skin-side down on dill.  Sprinkle Akavit over salmon. Top with remaining dill.  Cover with additional plastic wrap, sealing the fish.  Place a heavy pan or tray on fish.  Weigh down pan with cans or bottles.  Refrigerate for 3 days.

To serve, remove fish from refrigerate.  Remove plastic wrap.  Pour off collected juices and wipe off excess brine and dill.  Slice diagonally from one corner of the salmon towards the center of the fillet. Serve with french bread or toasted brioche.  Garnish with fresh dill sprigs and honey dill mustard.

Honey Dill Mustard

1/4 cup honey mustard
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup chopped dill sprigs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify.  Stir in dill, pepper and salt.

Easy Entertaining: Grilled Salmon and Halibut Skewers

It’s mid-April, Easter vacation, and when it rains it pours – luckily and figuratively – in the houseguest department.  Who needs to go away during a school vacation, when you live in the San Francisco Bay area?  There is no shortage of beaches and nature to explore, food and wine to taste, museums and city to walk, and it can’t get any better than with the streak of brilliant weather we have had this week.  Besides, if we don’t go away, then those who do go away, come to us.

We are reaching the end of a week of playing tourist in our own backyard, hiking Pacific coastal trails, tasting Napa wine, window shopping in Union Square, and having our senses titillated in Chinatown.  My brother and his family have come and gone and return again this evening after visiting Yosemite National Park for a 3 day excursion. While they were gone, the kids have had friends sleep over, and a good friend from our Geneva days came round for a dinner – she was in town for business and we had the chance to catch up after 10 years over good wine and food.  Next week when we are back to our usual routine I will rest.

As you might imagine, the kitchen chez nous has been busy and continually re-stocked.  And for last night’s dinner I prepared these lovely fish kabobs for easy, elegant entertaining.

Grilled Salmon and Halibut Skewers
Serves 6

For the marinade:
1/4 cup (60 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 medium yellow onion, grated, with juices
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 lbs. salmon fillet and halibut filet (thick pieces), cut in 1″ chunks
1 large red onion, cut in 1″ pieces
1 large red pepper, cut in 1″ pieces
1 large yellow pepper, cut in 1″ pieces

Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Soak 12 wooden skewers in hot water 30 minutes before using.

In a large bowl combine marinade ingredients.  Whisk together.  Add fish to marinade and toss gently to coat.  Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 4 hours.
Preheat grill or oven grill.
Remove skewers from water.  Thread 4-5 pieces of fish on each skewer, alternating with pepper and onion pieces.  Grill, turning, until fish is brown and just cooked through, 6-8 minutes.
Arrange on a platter, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley sprigs.

Sunday Night Salmon Cakes

It’s not a good sign, when it’s barely mid-November and I already want a time-out. I don’t know about you but it feels as though seasonal festivities are already in full swing.  It could be that in addition to Halloween and the upcoming family holidays, every other friend and family member of mine happens to have a birthday in October or November.  After all the celebrating, and the ghoulishly sweet orientation of Halloween-past, I find myself craving savory, comfort food.  Now, to some, a fish cake may not be the first food choice to leap to mind that fits the bill, but, to me, a salty, smoky, crispy and moreish fish cake is the perfect RX to balance out too many late evenings and too many sweets.

In my eternal search for the perfect fish cake, I found that the best way to get the results I craved was to create my own recipe which had all of the right elements.  This ideal cake is packed with fish and has little filler; it’s toothsome in texture and not too mushy; it’s salty and piquant without too much sweetness; it’s bursting with fresh herbs and studded with bits of chile.  Tried-and-true, these are now a household staple, especially on a Sunday night.

Smoked Salmon Fish Cakes

Makes approx. 16 – 2″ diameter cakes

1 1/2 lb. salmon filets, skinned, pin bones removed
1/4 lb. smoked salmon
1 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
One small onion grated with juices, about 1/4 cup
2 scallions, ends trimmed, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2  tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tablespoons Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine salmon filets and smoked salmon in bowl of food processor.  Pulse to chop without over processing.  The consistency should be finely chopped without becoming mushy.
Transfer salmon to a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, onion  with juices, scallions, parsley and cilantro.  Mix with a fork to combine.  Add yogurt, lemon juice, tabasco, pepper.  Stir to combine.

Pour remaining 1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.  Using a soup spoon scoop out a generous amount of salmon mixture.  Carefully form it into a plump 2″ patty with your hands.  Roll cake in Panko to cover.  Place on platter.  Repeat with remaining salmon.  Add more Panko to bowl if necessary.  (Patties can be formed up to 3 hours before cooking.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet.  Add fish cakes in one layer.  Fry over medium-high heat until browned, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.  Use a spatter guard to prevent oil from spattering.  Transfer cakes to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.  Repeat with remaining salmon mixture.
Transfer cakes to pre-warmed serving platter.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley leaves.