Sunday, November 13, 2011

Salmon cakes with lemon yogurt sauce with roasted asparagus and arugula salad

I've been making this dish for a few years, since I came across it in Gourmet in 2008. It has that "everyday special" vibe that I love, but is pulled together really quickly and only contains ingredients I usually have around the kitchen anyway. For some reason, eating foods in fried cake form is just plain fun (like the black bean cakes from this summer). Here I've formed them into large cakes for a main course, but you could easily make teeny little cakes for appetizers.

I love these salmon cakes in particular because you start from whole salmon fillets and hack them down to the texture you like. Definitely don't use the food processor, you want some nice big chunks of fish as well as some that has been finely minced (which helps hold them together with the bread crumbs and egg white). 
The yogurt sauce is the perfect accompaniment; creamy and tangy.

I found this side because I had half a pound of asparagus and some arugula to use up. I always like something a little acidic on the side when I'm frying, and indeed it was a great compliment to the salmon cakes. It reminds me of an Everyday Foods recipe that's similar but uses mushrooms and a little honey. It's reeeally good, I'll blog it sometime. Alas, I did not have mushrooms, I had arugula.

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg white
1/4 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 a bunch of scallions (maybe 4 nice thick ones), whites and greens thinly sliced and separated
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of bread crumbs, I like panko
2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets (around 2/3 lb)

1/2 cup of plain yogurt, I like Greek
juice of 1/2 the lemon you zested
green parts of the scallions you sliced

1 small shallot, minced
juice of the other 1/2 of the lemon you zested, about a tbsp
1 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
~ 2 tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed off and cut into bite-sized lengths
~ 4 cups arugula

In the interest of time and dish-saving, I like to chop all my veggies for everything on the cutting board first, leaving the meat for last.

Combine the shallot, juice of half a lemon, sherry vinegar, and Dijon in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously until it emulsifies (which is really easy to do when there's mustard in the dressing). Season with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Prep your asparagus by tossing with a little olive oil and kosher salt and spread them onto a baking sheet (foiled, for easy cleanup). If you want your salad cold, you could broil the asparagus at this point and let them cool, but I like mine warm so I waited until the salmon cakes were frying to broil them.

In a large bowl, combine the mayo, Dijon, egg white, coriander, cayenne, scallions, and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed. Now that you have no veggies left to chop, flop your salmon fillets out on the cutting board and first cut into one inch-ish cubes. Then just run your knife through several times until there are chunks of all different sizes, taking care to make sure there's a half cup or so that has been thoroughly minced. Add the salmon and bread crumbs to the mayo mixture with a good pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine. Form into four nice big patties, placing them on a clean plate as you go, and slip them into the fridge. This is important, letting them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes or so really helps them stay together when they cook. I'd cover them in plastic wrap if I was going to go longer than that, though.

Stir together the yogurt, juice of the other half of the lemon you zested, green parts of the scallions, and a pinch of kosher salt. Taste - if it's not zingy enough, you should add more lemon juice.

When you are ready to eat, preheat the broiler on low and pop your asparagus under it for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick pan and when hot, carefully add your salmon cakes. They'll only take 2 or 3 minutes to reach golden deliciousness per side. Pull out your asparagus and toss with the arugula and a couple of spoonfuls of the dressing (you'll have too much dressing, so save it for another salad). Serve the cakes with a dollop of yogurt sauce and your lovely asparagus and arugula salad alongside.

Serves 2, takes about half an hour.


  1. Sounds delicious! I'll be making this tonight for dinner, thinking of adding chopped parsley or cilantro to the salmon cakes too!

  2. Awesome, let me know how it turns out! I loooove cilantro.

  3. SO making this for dinner tonight!