Monday, April 8, 2013

Salmon Cakes

A few weeks ago I had an unexpected opportunity. I had recently stopped by my friend Connie's house when she was making Salmon Cakes. I had honestly never thought about making Salmon Cakes. I don't know why. I guess my mother never made them when I was a kid. Connie suggested I email our friend Kendra to get her recipe.  I did and she sent it to me.  My kids love fish so why would they not like Salmon Cakes? This recipe calls for bell peppers and onion, which they like, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Once I got the urge to make Salmon Cakes and started digging around to compare recipes, it was clear that this dish spans the gamut. Some call them "Salmon Patties", others call them "Salmon Croquettes". And then some call them "Salmon Cakes". They range from simple, down-home – canned salmon with crushed saltine crackers and pickle relish;  to high class – panko-encrusted freshly broiled salmon with capers; and everything in between.  I think this recipe is an in-between one. It's simple and quick to put together and is open to tweaking as you like.

I planned a menu of:
Salmon Cakes with zippy cream sauce, served with green salad tossed in a little lemon vinaigrette, roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes. 

It was my next door neighbor's birthday who was eight months pregnant with her first baby.  I suggested to my kids that they make a sidewalk chalk birthday card in front of her house while I got dinner started. They jumped at this idea and all three kids created a festive greeting on the sidewalk outside of her home.
They rang her door bell to "give her the card" and she emerged graciously and enthusiastically receiving their art display. I asked her what her birthday dinner plans were and she said she had none and was thinking of making herself a sweet potato, or something, because her husband was sick and was only eating broth. I said, "Oh No! Well, I'm trying a new recipe, and there's no guarantee it will be any good, but I'd love to share a plate with you if you would like." I told her our menu. She ended up coming over and we pulled out the red "You are Special" plate and had an extremely spontaneous birthday dinner with her. This was my Salmon Cake debut. We all enjoyed them and loved celebrating our neighbor.

I'm reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
It's really great. It's fresh, down to earth, inspiring, honest, creative, smart and practical – all things I value in a book. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of her life that she is evaluating and seeking to improve. The chapter I read this week is on friendship.
One of her goals was to be more generous. She talked about how to define generosity beyond spending large amounts of money or shopping for gifts to give.

It made me think about what generosity looks like and about some of the ways I want to be generous in relationships.
Here are a few ideas I jotted down in my journal:
1. Offer my home to others: For baby showers, for book clubs, for a night's stay, etc.
2. Give rides to the airport.
3. Invite people with no family in town over to our holiday meal.
4. Lend books – (and try to keep track of where I lend them).
5. Offer produce to a neighbor when I'm leaving town.
6. Pass along out-grown clothes, toys or gear to people with younger children.
7. Accompany a friend with a dreaded task.
8. Help rearrange or decorate a friend's house.
9. Share food (taking a meal to someone who needs it; sharing our picnic with a friend we run into at the park; or spontaneously serving a birthday dinner to my pregnant next door neighbor whose husband is sick).

from Kendra
[makes about 12 (3-inch) cakes]
For Salmon Cakes:
12 oz. pink salmon (if from can, drained) 
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion or green onion
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro (or a few shakes of dried if you don't have fresh on hand)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus more for coating
1/3 cup light mayonaise
1 egg white

For Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonaise
the juice of a lime

For salmon cakes:
Drain salmon, place in a bowl and flake with a fork.  

Finely chop bell pepper and onion.  Snip cilantro. Add pepper, onion and cilantro; bread crumbs, mayo and egg white into the salmon mixture. Mix well.  

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Sprinkle bread crumbs onto the bottom of shallow dish. Scoop salmon mixture into balls and use hands (and a spatula) to form into patties.  Place in a pan of bread crumbs and coat evenly with the crumbs. 

Heat Skillet. Spray with cooking spray.  Cook cakes 6-8 minutes per side until golden brown, carefully turning once. 

For sauce: Stir together in a small bowl: sour cream, mayo and the juice of one lime. Chill until ready to serve.

(The photos are from two different batches – the second time I didn't have red pepper but much better light for photographing, so you may notice a difference in the look of the salmon cakes.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Salmon Cakes 
and ways to practice generosity in your relationships.