I often like to joke that salt cod runs through my veins, but the reality is that I actually don’t make fish at home all that often.
Not because I dislike it (quite the opposite, in fact), but rather because I always seem to forget to swing by the fish counter when I'm doing my grocery shopping.
These tasty little fresh salmon cakes have me changing my tune, though. They're made with fresh sockeye salmon, one of my favourite options for fresh, sustainable fish.
Unlike Atlantic salmon, which is usually farmed and available pretty much year-round, fresh sockeye is caught wild and is available for a limited time only - usually between May and mid-September - and is very much worth the hassle of hunting it down.
Hunting Down the Elusive Sockeye
That limited window of opportunity is the reason I found myself braving storm clouds and Pride Week crowds, and biked out to the only grocery store open downtown on Canada Day to pick up some fresh sockeye salmon.
Thankfully, I managed to arrive just in time to score the last two sockeye fillets left at the fish counter. (I may or may not have elbowed a couple of people out of my way in my rush to make them mine. All’s fair in love and war and fish shopping.)
Thankfully, it’s actually pretty easy to pick up fresh sockeye if you don't do it on a major holiday. I just like to live on the edge, I guess.
Choosing the Right Salmon: Atlantic vs. Sockeye
I love Atlantic salmon and that rich buttery thing it has going on, but its delicate texture and milder flavour works best in recipes that use whole cuts of fish, like grilled or broiled salmon filets.
Sockeye, on the other hand, has a leaner, meatier texture and more pronounced flavour that makes it perfect for recipes like salmon burgers or fish kebabs. Not to mention that its intense coral-pink colour looks amazing, no matter how you choose to prepare it.
After going to such lengths to get some sockeye, I wanted to make something that would let their delicious flavour and beautiful colour shine, which is exactly what these simple fresh salmon patties are designed to do.
How to Make Sockeye Salmon Patties
To transform my previous sockeye filets into a tasty lunch, I started by going old school, and chopped the fillets by hand to keep some of that lovely meaty texture.
And to let the flavour shine, I used minimal seasoning. Just a little salt and pepper, plus fresh lime for a pop of citrus flavour.
The only other adornment is the lovely pale green dollops of aioli flavoured with the trifecta of fresh tarragon, parsley and chives that is better known as Green Goddess.
I chose to shape the mixture into smaller two-bite patties, so that I could serve them on a bed of tender lettuce for a simple, fresh hot-weather lunch. However, they’re pretty dang amazing made into full-sized patties and nestled into challah buns for a gourmet salmon burger.
One thing’s for sure, though… one bite and you’ll be (wait for it…) hooked. Ba-dum-ching.
Tip your waitress. I'll be here all week. And try the salmon!
These simple salmon patties get their meaty flavour and brilliant coral-pink colour from sockeye salmon. Top them with dollops of creamy Green Goddess aioli for a perfect hot-weather meal.
Fresh Salmon Patties:
- 1 lb sockeye salmon filet
- ½ cup panko crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp lime zest
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Green Goddess Aioli:
- ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
- ¼ cup roughly chopped chives
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped tarragon
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp anchovy paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 leaves Boston or red leaf lettuce
- Lime wedges, for garnish
Prepare the Salmon Patties:
- Using a sharp chef’s knife, remove the skin from the salmon and discard. Finely chop the salmon - you're aiming to preserve some of the texture of the fish (as opposed to using the food processor, which I find tends to reduce the fish to a paste), but chop it finely enough to hold together if you gently form it into a ball.
- In a large bowl, stir together the salmon with panko, egg, lime juice, lime zest, salt, and pepper. Mix gently until everything is well combined.
- Shape the mixture into 8 equal-sized patties. Arrange on a baking sheet and chill for half an hour to help them set up.
Make the Aioli:
- While the patties are chilling, prepare the aioli. Using a food processor, pulse the parsley, chives, tarragon and garlic until finely chopped. Add the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and anchovy paste. Process for a minute or two, or until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour into a small mason jar and chill until ready to use.
Cook the Patties and Assemble:
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the patties for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp.
- Arrange a leaf or two of lettuce on each plate, and top with two patties. Spoon a generous amount of aioli on top, and serve with lime wedges on the side. (The leftover aioli is delicious as a sandwich spread, or as a creamy dip for fresh vegetables.)
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 8 mins
- Category: Main