Pepper crusted salmon cakes with horseradish sauce

March 28, 2011
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

  • Makes 6 fish cakes
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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!

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.