Pepper crusted salmon cakes with horseradish sauce

October  4, 2022
5 Ratings
  • Makes 6 fish cakes
Author Notes

I grew up eating fish cakes at least once a week. And now, it is still my go to weeknight dinner when I can't think of anything else to make. It's rather easy and always delicious. I frequently make my salmon cakes with a Thai curry spiced dipping sauce, but this evening I thought, why not use a little horseradish for a kick instead? Then this made me think of pastrami for some reason, so I decided to go ahead and give the salmon cakes a peppery crust. I'm already excited to eat the leftover fish cake for breakfast! - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

There’s something about the word "cake" that just sounds intriguing, especially when it includes fresh wild salmon. These salmon cakes have already made two appearances at my house, once as an appetizer for friends and once as a dinner entree with asparagus (a perfect suggestion by the author). Both were a hit! The peppery crust compliments both the salmon and the horseradish sauce without being overpowering, while the salmon cakes taste fresh and flavorful, yet delicate and comforting. We all agreed that they can best be described as “crispy pillows of savory scrumptiousness, dressed in a tongue tingling sauce." This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. My only addition to it was a glass of Washington Chardonnay...okay, make that two glasses. - SwoonMySpoon —SwoonMySpoon

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound salmon (wild caught)
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper (use a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley (you can food process this too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon (generous) coarsely ground/cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided
  • olive oil for frying
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Place the salmon in a baking pan with a half-inch of water. Bake/poach until just cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Blot dry with a paper towel and remove the skin.
  2. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the creme fraiche, 1 Tbs. horseradish and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper. If you'd like a slightly garlicky sauce, you can add a smashed piece of garlic and let it sit with the garlic in it while you prepare everything else. Then, fish the garlic out before serving. (I tried it both ways and decided I liked it better without garlic, but that's just a personal preference.) Set sauce aside.
  3. Put the salmon in a bowl, add the minced bell pepper, parsley, salt, mustard, mayonnaise, and a half cup of breadcrumbs. Stir with a fork to combine well and fluff. If it seems too wet or too dry to be able to form cakes, add mayo or bread crumbs as needed. This is something I do totally by feel, so I can't say for sure exactly the quantities I wind up using.
  4. Form the salmon mixture into 6 patties, place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (During this time you can prep any vegetable you are going to have on the side.)
  5. Mix together the remaining half cup of Panko and the cracked pepper on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Heat a large splash of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Gently dip the salmon cakes in the pepper mixture, lightly coating both sides (be careful when you handle them, as they are a bit fragile at this point). You may need to add a touch more breadcrumbs and pepper depending on how thickly you coat your cakes. Fry the salmon cakes until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  6. Serve with the horseradish sauce for spooning all over them. We had ours with some roasted asparagus (totally jumping the gun on the seasons, but we're kind of aching for spring around here), and I wound up drizzling the horseradish sauce all over those too!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • amandam1
  • Sarah H.
    Sarah H.
  • gingerroot
  • Sagegreen

32 Reviews

cookie27 August 11, 2019
very yummy! i added some minced fresh opal basil too, because it's abundant in the garden right now and i'm in love with all things basil... nice job fiveandspice!
Merry March 1, 2019
Better late than never... We just tried this last night and loved it! The fresh taste of the salmon shines using the cooking method described and yes, the sauce is just perfect! We are happy to have two of the cakes left for tonight and will augment with some broccoli rabe.
amandam1 July 12, 2016
these look amazing! can anyone confirm how many appetizer (1-2 bites) size cakes this recipe makes? thank you!
Joanna N. May 2, 2016
Holy cow, these were great. Next time I'm going to double the recipe because these cakes made phenomenal cold leftovers! I served these alongside la domestique's lemony potato salad (minus the smoked salmon, and with some fresh dill, chopped sugar snap peas, arugula, and a scoop of whole grain mustard tossed in). Heaven. I made extra horseradish cream sauce and it tasted incredible on top of my roasted purple sweet potatoes last night. Oh, also I put a lot of extra horseradish in the sauce--but we are all huge horseradish fans in this house :) Thank you fiveandspice!
Vicki March 29, 2016
Sorry I meant to add I'm making this tonight - sounds delicious!
Vicki March 29, 2016
I think the ingredient is slightly out of order e.g. the ground black pepper should be after the Panko and step 3 seems to be missing the addition of the 1 tsp horseradish?
rederin October 28, 2012
I've made these a few times now. They take a bit more time than the salmon croquettes I grew up with, but using the fresh salmon makes all the difference in the world. Totally worth it!
fiveandspice February 7, 2013
Sorry I missed this comment before (I haven't been receiving notifications reliably), but I'm so glad you're enjoying them!
Sarah H. July 30, 2012
After about a month of feeling completely uninspired to make much in the way of a decent dinner, I decided to try these last night. The process of making them was fun. The ingredients comprise so many individually delicious flavors — I had a great time experimenting with proportions and getting the taste just right. I used a garlicky mayonnaise, too, which seemed to pair well with the horseradish. I also broiled the cakes instead of panfrying. They were just as crispy as I hoped they'd be, but even lighter than I expected. And don't even get me started on the horseradish sauce! That's now going to be a kitchen staple to use on whatever future dish needs a little extra kick. Thank you!
fiveandspice July 30, 2012
That is so great to hear! I'm glad they brought a little bit of the cooking magic back for you! :)
gingerroot July 11, 2012
Hi Em! We finally tried these for dinner tonight and they are fabulous!! With some garlicky wilted swiss chard it made for a delicious meal. My only regret is that between the four of us we devoured all six in one sitting - next time I'll have to double the recipe to make sure we have leftovers. I only made two minor changes - 1) I was running short on time so froze them on a baking sheet for 15 minutes instead of refrigerating them with good results 2) To accommodate my gf hubby I substituted two slices of Food for Life gf Rice Pecan bread (grated with a curved cheese grater) for the panko. Thanks for a great recipe that we'll be sure to enjoy again!
fiveandspice July 13, 2012
Hi Jenny! Sorry to be a little slow to respond. We just got back from a trip to Norway to visit the fam. (About as opposite to Hawaii as you can get, I think, given we were bundled in parkas most evenings, even though it was June/July!) I'm tickled that you guys liked them so much! I think it is indeed a good recipe for doubling. :) And, thanks for letting me know about all the tweaks, especially being able to use GF bread, which is great to know for when I cook for my various GF friends, something I'm still trying to get better at.
DAVILCHICK April 9, 2012
Made this as an appetizer and as the main coarse for our Pescatarian friend. I don't think I can ever eat tuna again without red bell pepper. Thank you for the permission to play it by ear regarding the panko and mayo. I made everything ahead of time and then coated and fried right before serving. Mmmmmmmmmmm....
fiveandspice April 10, 2012
Excellent! Glad they worked out so well for you!
Foodelf January 8, 2012
I made these yesterday and they were simply delicious. Impressively easy to put together and I don't think I'd change a thing - although I did wonder about adding a little chopped green onion. I'm going to be making these frequently.

They'd be terrific as an appetizer prepped and ready to go in advance.

I plan to prepare a couple for a tasty packed lunch with some salad.

Thanks, fiveandspice - I wish I hadn't waited so long to try this one.
fiveandspice January 8, 2012
Thanks so much Foodelf! I'm really happy you liked them, and I totally agree, they're great as appetizers, or lunch too. I even eat them for breakfast sometimes. And, a little chopped green onion is a great addition. I actually do add them sometimes, if I have them around. But, for some reason, I never seem to have them!
Foodelf January 21, 2012
I've now made these 3 times and I'm loving them. One new tweak - I've been serving them with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce as an appetizer and they fly off the plate! I love the horseradish sauce, but it may just have been nudged aside by the STCS - notwithstanding, there's room for both.

A friend at the office, who's also made them a couple of times, speculates that serving them with poached eggs, like a Benny, would be very tasty.

Again ... thanks for this recipe, it's now practically a member of the family.
fiveandspice January 23, 2012
I'm glad you've been enjoying them so much! I love that you're using Thai Chili Sauce with them. That sounds yummy! I actually sometimes make a little sauce of mayo and Thai red chili paste to serve with them, which is also delicious. And, as part of eggs benedict? Dee-licious, for sure!
Kristabolt September 28, 2011
Is there a good gluten free substitute for the Panko breading?
fiveandspice September 28, 2011
That's a great question! I'm afraid I don't know a ton about gluten free substitutions, but I know I have seen gluten free breadcrumbs before, which you could probably use. You might want to ask on foodpickle to see what others know about GF substitutes for panko.
stripedcow July 24, 2011
This is a fantastic combination of tastes...thanks!
fiveandspice July 25, 2011
Thanks stripedcow! I'm so happy you enjoyed them! They're a staple around here.
Sagegreen April 1, 2011
I love the contrasts of flavors here.
fiveandspice April 2, 2011
Oh, thank you Sagegreen! I was really very happy with how they turned out! :)
singing_baker March 30, 2011
This looks so delicious! Making salmon into cakes is the only way I can get my husband to eat salmon so I will definitely be trying out this recipe. nice work!
fiveandspice March 31, 2011
Thank you singing baker! I hope you enjoy them!!
gingerroot March 29, 2011
YUM! I love salmon cakes (and so do my kids) and these sound really delicious. Love the salmon + horseradish + peppery crust. Adding to my list of recipes to try soon.
fiveandspice March 29, 2011
Thanks gingerroot! And, I'm so glad to hear your kids are also salmon cake lovers. It's a good thing to be brought up on!
aeisenhowerturnbull March 29, 2011
Love! Hope you are an "editors pick"!
fiveandspice March 29, 2011
Aw, thanks! That's so kind of you.
MeghanVK March 29, 2011
What a gorgeous photo!
fiveandspice March 29, 2011
Thanks so much!