The other night I made myself some salmon for dinner. As a busy student/intern, living with roommates, and cooking for just myself most of the time, I’m usually portioning out my glass Tupperware containers with the after-meal leftovers. The issue with saving salmon for the next day is that it really doesn’t save well. Fish in general is a food that is best when fresh and eaten the same day it’s cooked. On top of that, salmon isn’t cheap. It averages $10/lb for farm raised and up to $25/lb for wild caught. I’m a wild caught proponent for the nutritional benefits, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit into my grad student budget (and that’s okay).
Even when I go for the cheaper fish, it is still a shame to waste any of it (and honestly, I am greatly offended by any food waste, especially in the home where it is easily preventable with proper planning). So in order to save my salmon and actually still enjoy it, I re-purposed it! I stored my leftover salmon steak in the fridge in an air tight container for a little over 24 hours. I decided I would make salmon cakes because you can pretty much turn anything into a pan-fried cake and it will taste delicious.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, a good source of protein, B vitamins, selenium, potassium, and also contains the antioxidant astaxanthin (which is actually a carotenoid and gives salmon its red color). Wild caught salmon will typically be slightly less calories, more protein and less fat (yes including omega-3s) per serving. However the quality of omega-3’s in farm raised might not be as high as in wild caught. Wild caught salmon eat plankton and things in their natural environment and possibly get more exercise compared to farmed salmon which are fed a high-fat fish based feed.
Alright, enough of the facts. Onto the main attraction!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Total time: About 25 minutes
- 1/2 small piece of cooked, leftover salmon (~4 oz)
- 1/4 small red onion, diced
- 1/4 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup rough bread crumbs
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 Tbsp plain yogurt
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp parsley (fresh preferably)
- juice from 1/2 lemon, plus more for the cooked cakes
- 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
- Combine all ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to your liking (I do a few shakes out of the salt shaker and more of pepper). Stir everything using a spatula until combined. Using your hands form 4 small patties. They will feel pretty soft and may not stay together very well – that’s okay. You can add more breadcrumbs if they feel too wet.
- Heat the avocado oil in medium sized pan over medium/medium high heat. Add the patties. Let them cook on the one side for about 3-5 minutes (check them – range tops can vary in heat strength especially depending on gas or electric).
- Flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. You want a nice, golden brown (or darker brown like mine) crust.
- Remove from pan and let cool a bit on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Serve hot, doused in lemon juice and with your favorite vegetable side dish. I love Brussels sprouts (and they’re easy) so I paired my cakes with roasted Brussels sprouts.*
*Toss Brussels in oil of choice, dash of balsamic vinaigrette, salt, pepper, and a pinch or two of grated Parmesan. Roast in oven on baking sheet at 400 for about 25-30 minutes, or until desired “crispiness.” This will add cook time to your dinner prep!
This really was the perfect way to re-purpose and save my leftover salmon from the trash can. I literally just whipped this up super last minute with no recipe, and it turned out pretty good! Fresh parsley would have made it even better (I only had dried on hand). Also, using fresh lemon juice was a game changer. I’m very inclined to lemon (especially with fish) so I squeezed a ton on my cakes. Have fun with this! Feel free to experiment. Add different herbs and ratios of things. I’d love to see what you end up creating. Share on Instagram with hashtag #savethesalmoncakes
Natalie, future M.S., RDN