Recipe: Fragrant salmon cakes with avocado basil dressing

If you live in Seattle, it’s nearly required by state law to eat wild salmon during the summer. Lately, I’ve been grilling more than we need in order to use the leftovers for these fragrant salmon cakes that I developed last year when faced with a pile of leftover salmon after a rained-out BBQ.  They’re simple to make and freeze well, and offer a healthy alternative to fish sticks. They’re easily dressed up by a simple sauce.  I adore avocados, but I find myself with slivers of leftover avocado. One day, trying to come up with low-fat, low-cal recipes for a guest chef gig at Rancho La Puerta earlier this year, I decided to use some leftover avocado and added a bit of seltzer water to this salad dressing – and it worked. The result is a light, airy dressing that works well with simple, tossed salads and also with salmon and grilled chicken. Both are part of the collection of recipes in my next book.

Two slices of toast pulsed for 30 seconds in a small food processor makes about a cup of bread crumbs, and the flavor beats the gritty store-bought variety. If using fresh fish, simply poach it quickly in water. The salmon cakes make enough for two, but the recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

Salmon cakes
1/2 lb. cooked salmon or mild white fish filets
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1 cup bread crumbs, divided in half
1 small handful any combination of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, basil or cilantro
4 green onions, white and light portions minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch or two to cayenne (optional)
Olive oil or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Combine egg, half the breadcrumbs, chopped herbs, green onions, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, mustard, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, cayenne and several grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Put the remainder of the breadcrumbs into a separate shallow bowl. Discard fish skin. Crumble fish into bowl, sifting to uncover any bones. Mix thoroughly. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray or olive oil. Form the fish mixture into small cakes or “stick” shapes, about 1/3-inch thick. Dip both sides of the fish cakes into breadcrumbs and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for about five minutes, then broil for about 90 seconds until golden. Turn off broiler, remove sheet from pan and carefully flip cakes. Bake another five minutes and then broil until the top is golden another 90 seconds. Serve warm.

Avocado Basil Dressing

One quarter of a pitted, peeled avocado
6 basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon minced shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons sparkling water
Combine the vinaigrette ingredients into a small food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add salt and cranks of black pepper to taste.


Filed under book two, budget cooking, diet, healthy recipes, kitchen tips, made from scratch, recipes, seafood

8 responses to “Recipe: Fragrant salmon cakes with avocado basil dressing

  1. Marcus

    Wow, this looks great. The use of the seltzer water is really unique, I have never heard of it.


  3. anne

    There were awesome! I used basil and added hot sauce. Will make forever!

  4. Kathryn

    Best salmon cakes ever!!
    And, this sauce is wonderful. I use it for crab cakes as well. Will find more uses I am sure!

    • Kathleen Flinn

      Great! I just made a version of this recently with some leftover snapper and it was terrific, too. Thanks!

  5. Erica

    If using canned salmon, how much would you substitute for the freshly cooked salmon? These look great!

    • Kathleen Flinn

      I haven’t tried it with canned salmon, but that’s a good thing for me to test. Since it calls for 8 oz., I’d get a can that’s approximately the same size. One thing to note about canned salmon is that the less expensive versions tend to have bones and so there’s some waste. So although it may say it’s 14 oz., you may end up tossing a bit of it due to bones. If you use a larger or smaller can, adjust the recipe according. Let me know how it goes if you try it with canned salmon.

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