Salmon cakes tend to have a terrible reputation, often due to the use of canned salmon and too much mayonnaise.
My version features fresh salmon moistened with cooked onions and jalapeno pepper, subtly seasoned with allspice and bound together with panko bread crumbs and a little milk. The cakes cook in minutes and then get a powerful flavor punch from a fresh mango salsa.
The trick here is to chop the raw salmon finely enough so it binds together but not so much that it lacks body. If you're having trouble forming the cakes because you've left the salmon too chunky, chop the combined mixture until it can be easily shaped.
This is a lovely luncheon dish, served on top of baby greens with the salsa doing double duty as a dressing for the salad. If you love mango, feel free to double the salsa ingredients for extra flavor and even more fruit.
- For the salsa
- Flesh from 1 large, ripe mango, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon light or dark light brown sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lime (at least 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- For the salmon cakes
- 2 or 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 large jalapeño pepper (or 2 small ones), stemmed, seeded and minced (2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- About 1 cup panko bread crumbs, plus more as needed
- Leaves from 2 or 3 stems flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 3/4 pound skinless salmon fillet, coarsely chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- For assembly
- 3 or 4 cups loosely packed baby salad greens
For the salsa: Combine the mango, jalapeno pepper, brown sugar, lime zest and juice, and salt in a medium bowl; toss lightly. Let it sit at room temperature while you make the salmon cakes.
For the salmon cakes: Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and jalapeno; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Add the allspice and stir to incorporate. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Spread 1/2 cup of the panko on a shallow plate.
Combine the parsley, the remaining 1/2 cup of panko, the milk, salmon, salt and the onion-jalapeno mixture in a medium bowl; mix gently. The mixture will be moist. If it seems too wet to hold a shape, add a tablespoon of the panko. Form the mixture into 4 small cakes no thicker than 3/4 inch. Transfer each cake to the plate with the panko; coat their tops and bottoms.
Heat a teaspoon of the oil over medium-high heat in the same skillet used to saute the vegetables, until the oil shimmers. Add the salmon cakes without crowding them, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side (for medium doneness) or adjust the cooking time as desired. Cook in 2 batches, adding oil as necessary.
To assemble: Divide the salad greens among individual plates. Top each portion with a salmon cake. Spoon the salsa over each portion and serve immediately.
From columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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