This is my go-to clean out the pantry recipe because almost all the ingredients are swap-able and I am pretty much guaranteed to have everything on hand. Don't have salmon - use tuna! Don't have white vinegar - use apple cider! Don't have spinach - ok, really, you probably have a bag in the bottom of your freezer if you dig down far enough. But whatever slightly sad looking greens you have in your crisper drawer will work too. That being said, it is also wonderful with fresh salmon if you have some you're willing to use. For this recipe, I used canned salmon that was given to us by friends who go salmon fishing in Alaska every year. It was nice and fatty which helped it all stick together. If you find that your canned salmon (or fresh salmon) isn't as rich, add another egg to help with the binding.
Note: if you would like to use fresh salmon, pat the filets dry and season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a pan over medium high heat and cook for 4-6 minutes, flip and cook for 2-3 minutes more or until it is cooked through - time will vary depending on the thickness of the filet. —Niknud
canned salmon, drained and broken into small pieces (see headnote for fresh salmon substitution)
frozen spinach, cooked, squeezed of as much water as possible and chopped
medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
panko (or regular bread crumbs)
Old Bay Seasoning
eggs (4 if the mixture is dry)
Salt and Pepper
High heat oil for cooking (I use safflower)
Mayo (homemade is great, but store bought is fine too)
Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl and gently combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Handling sparingly, form a generous palm-full (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup) of the mixture into a ball and flatten into a patty about 1/2 inch thick.
Heat a tablespoon or so of oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side until they are nicely browned and slightly crisp. Between each batch (and I had three batches of four cakes each), wipe out the pan and use fresh oil.
For the herb-y mayo, combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also play around with the herbs here if you like. Dried herbs can substitute for fresh in a pinch - just reduce the amount by about half and I'd recommend letting it hang out in the fridge for a while so that the flavors can combine better.
For serving, you can take the bun route or opt for it plain with just the herb-y mayo. Our household splits down generational lines - kids choose buns, adults figure buns just takes up valuable room in the belly that could be filled with a second salmon cake. If you decide to go with buns, I recommend toasting slightly (the pan you used to cook the cakes works just fine here) and use a slightly more generous slathering of the mayo.
Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!