Thursday, February 18, 2010

Salmon Cakes with Cheesy Leeks

Joe picked the recipe for the salmon this week: Pan-fried Salmon Cakes from our well-loved America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

I love this recipe because most of the ingredients are things you could conceivably have on hand (we only had to buy a lemon).  The cookbook is really great too - lots of good solid basic recipes with variations to keep things interesting.  It helped us to realize that you can make a lot of meals from scratch using really basic ingredients, rather than buying a packet or pre-made boxed mix.  It doesn't take that much longer, and it's healthier because you have total control over everything that goes in the dish.

To go with the salmon cakes I made a quick side dish with leeks, cream, and cheddar cheese.  Can't really go wrong with those ingredients!

Pan-fried Salmon Cakes
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, skin removed
1 1/4 cups plain dried breadcrumbs (we needed more than this)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Lemon wedges (for serving)

After removing the skin from the salmon, check for any pin bones by rubbing your  fingers over the fish.  Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, then cut into 1-inch chunks.  Put half the salmon into the food processor and pulse until just minced- be careful not to puree.  Repeat with the other half.

In a large bowl, add the salmon, mayo, onion, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs, and mix gently with a spatula.  Evenly divide the mixture so that you can form eight patties, each about 2 1/2 inches wide.  Lay them on a large plate lined with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Make an assembly line of three plates, leading up to the pan you're going to fry the salmon cakes in.  The first plate is for the flour, the next one for the eggs, and the last one is for the rest of the breadcrumbs.  Dredge the cakes through each coating one at a time, pressing down on the breadcrumbs to make sure they stick.  Either do them as you go (which is what we did) or do as they suggest, which is to coat them all first and then start cooking them.

Regardless, heat your oil over med/high heat in a large nonstick skillet (oops, we didn't use nonstick - but they came out fine) until it shimmers.  Cook in batches or all at once depending on how large a skillet you have, until golden on both sides which takes about 4-6 minutes.  Have a plate lined with paper towels ready to put the finished cakes on to let them drain a little before serving.  Serve with the lemon wedges.

Cheesy Creamy Leeks
adapted from Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook
Serves 4

4 large leeks
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 ounces sharp Cheddar or Monterey Jack, shredded (they also suggest Swiss or Gruyere for a milder flavor)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to broil.

Trim most of the green (tougher) parts off of the leeks and slice in half lengthwise.  Wash the dirt out of the outermost layers but keep them intact as much as possible.

Heat your oil in a large skillet.  Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper (but if you forget to season them at this time, like I did, never fear, you can do it later).  Cook, turning them and stirring occasionally, until they start to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Most of them fell apart but that's ok.

Pour the cream into the pan and stir.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then pour everything into a shallow baking dish.  Top with the cheese.  Broil 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling away and starting to turn golden.

Side note: while it might be more elegant to serve the leeks in long strips like they suggest, I found them to be a little impractical to eat -- they were difficult to cut with a regular table knife and fork.  If I were making this again I would slice them in half lengthwise like they say, but also crosswise into 2-inch pieces.  It might not be as impressive in the serving dish but it would be easier to eat I think.


  1. Yum, I'm making this this weekend. TKS! Found you via a google search, by the way

    1. Awesome, Lisa! These are so tasty. I'm so glad you found me!


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