Salmon Cakes with a Roasted red pepper aioli
There is so much that can be made with products that are often times thrown away. Yes, we do waste a lot of food. In my travels around the world this is not the case. Most every part of the animal will be used for some type of dish. Now, granted I was not a big fan of intestines in Cambodia but I do really enjoy offal products and I Love a hot steaming bowl of Pho with tendons and tripe. The other day we had our usual Menu Del Dia and the second course was ‘beef innards’ and it was delicious.
Fast forward to the Oregon Coast. Sports fishing is big business on the coast especially for salmon. We lived 7 miles north of the Rogue River that is famous for salmon fishing. In the summer fishermen come to this small community to hopefully catch a few of these delicious creatures. My favorite was always the “springers” that usually started coming into the river around April or so. They are super fatty making them tasty and moist, the absolute best salmon I have ever tasted. Add to that they have just arrived in from the sea so they are super fresh and bright. I remember seeing these same fish miles up river in Grants Pass after they had endure the long swim up the rapids and how they looked all beat up. Gold Beach really does have some amazing fish. Below is a video of Terri-Lynn catching her first salmon, which was a springer on the Rogue River.
Unfortunately the typical salmon fisherman throws away so much of this meat. They will usually take only a filet off of each side of the salmon and throw everything else away. It is very easy to find 2-3 meals off of one salmon that just gets discarded into the trash can. I have a number of recipes for this delicious and valuable product and salmon cakes are certainly a favorite.
During our time living in Gold Beach we had a few television shows and my wife Terri-Lynn was the host and quite the local celebrity. There was one time she decided to hang out at the fish cleaning station at the port and ask all the fishermen for their carcasses. This became a funny joke, “The girl from channel nine is asking for fish bones, TV must not pay very well”.
I begin by poaching the bones in white wine, some dill, lemon, garlic, Bay leaf, shallots and anything else you may enjoy in your poaching liquid. When it is finished I simply remove the meat from the bones and place it in a bowl.
Next saute up some onion, celery, garlic and red bell pepper. Add this to the salmon and dice up plain white bread. Add one egg and toss it lightly all together. Do not over mix this as you want nice big chunks of salmon in your cakes. This is the basic salmon cake and you can also substitute crab. I have another sustainable idea of how to use one dungeness crab to make three separate meals. I’ll be posting that someday I am sure.
Form your salmon cakes in the size of patties that you would like and coat both sides with panko. Now here is a very important part. I then fry them on both sides in butter. This is not the time to think about being healthy or counting your calories. I use a good amount of butter here. Brown both sides and that’s it.
For the aioli I usually roast a bell pepper and sometimes a head of garlic. You can easily make your own mayonnaise or just get some out of a jar. On this particular occasion I happened to find a jar of artisan roasted bell peppers at the market and thought I would give it a try. I just added a few peppers to some mayonnaise and a few cloves of garlic in a blender and pushed a button.
I do not consider myself a great fisherman as I really do not have the patience to just stand around for hours waiting for a fish to bite my hook. I have caught quite a few brook trout however while backpacking in high mountain lakes, which is different as they tend to be very hungry and it’s almost not fair how many and how quickly you can catch them. Terri-Lynn and I have however caught a few salmon and steelhead while living on the southern Oregon coast and one time I landed a hen, or a female with eggs. This was exciting as I was able to take out the eggs and make caviar.
Another quick lunch idea is to just put the bones in a frying pan with some salt and pepper and fry them up. Again the meat just slides off the bones. You will be shocked just how much salmon most people throw away!
If you make this recipe please leave a comment to let me know how you like it. And, if you have your own ideas of what to do with a salmon carcass please tell us!