These salmon cakes are pan-fried and served with an avocado dip and chimichurri sauce. Certain to banish all memories of the less-than-stellar fish cakes of your youth.
This salmon cakes recipe elevates canned salmon beyond recognition and banish all past recollections (nightmares?!) of Fish Friday. For good.–David Leite
☞ Table of Contents
For the salmon cakes
- 1/2 pound russet potatoes peeled and halved (about 1 large)
- Sea salt
- 2 scallions white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- Handful of arugula coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/2 oz) chives finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 large egg beaten
- One (6 ounce) can of salmon drained and picked clear of any bones
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Flour for dusting (optional)
- 1/2 lime
For the avocado spread
- 1 avocado pitted
- 1/2 shallot finely diced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the chimichurri
- 1/2 red chile pepper seeded, or a pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 shallot halved
- 1/4 inch piece ginger peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch of mint leaves only (about 1 cup loosely packed)
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Assemble the salmon cakes
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the potato with enough water to cover by 1 inch and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.
- In a large bowl, roughly mash the potato, then mix in the scallion, arugula, chives, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the egg and the salmon and mash with a fork until everything comes together in a coarse mixture.
- Shape the potato-salmon mixture into balls that fit in the palm of your hand and then flatten them until they’re between 1/2 and 3/4 inch (12 and 18 mm) thick. The salmon cakes will be fragile. Place on a plate, loosely cover, and slip in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Make the avocado spread
- In a medium bowl, mash the avocado with the shallot, lemon juice, and some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Make the chimichurri
- Purée all the ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth or the desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle in a little extra olive oil if the sauce is too thick.
Fry the salmon cakes
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, warm a splash of sunflower oil. Dust the salmon cakes with a bit of flour, if using. Carefully add the salmon cakes to the skillet and fry util golden brown on 1 side, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Carefully flip the salmon cakes with a spatula and fry on the other side for 3 to 4 more minutes. The cakes should be nice and hot inside.
☞TESTER TIP: These salmon cakes are quite delicate, so take extra care both when slipping them into the skillet and when flipping them.
- Lift the salmon cakes out of the pan and onto paper towels or a brown paper bag cut open. (You can also keep them warm in a low oven until the rest are cooked, if you prefer.)
- Serve the salmon cakes with the avocado spread, chimichurri, and lime.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe for salmon cakes made me decide that I am a salmon cake lover. This was a dish that previously did not really excite me: although not anti-salmon croquette, I just did not see the big deal about them. My parents made them growing up and it was definitely not included in my top dinner memories. I decided to try this recipe because of the addition of potato as well as the fresh green components. So glad that I did! The potato gives a lovely texture and makes the salmon cake less tight and fishy! Love all the bright components of the chimichurri and the avocado spread with the notes of lemon and acid. It was more of an elevated salmon cake and definitely something that looks like and tastes like it belongs on a restaurant menu. For the amount of work I felt like it was worth getting at least 4 portions (in our house, 2 nights of dinner for 2), so I doubled the salmon cake recipe. You do not have to do so with the chimichurri and avocado as those are generous enough to stretch another night.
The photo on this salmon cakes recipe sold it for me. I was looking for a small plate, single serving recipe that was a “looker” without too many ingredients. This recipe had the “looker” prerequisite but it seemed to have too many components. After the second read, I decided to treat the steps as 3 recipes. This made it seem so much more simple. The progression actually saved time and after 50 minutes, I had a meal with 3 distinct components.
Both the avocado spread and the chimichurri could easily be paired with other recipes. I used canned wild sockeye salmon, drained, bones removed and I large russet potato. My frying oil is grapeseed oil so I used that. I liked that the recipe suggested refrigerating the cakes to firm them up as this did work very well.
I opted to not flour the cakes before frying. This was the only element that I feel could have been enhanced. There was an overabundance of creamy textures. I missed a crispy crust on the salmon cakes which perhaps the flour could have repaired. Definitely the use of coarse bread crumbs or anything creating a crispy crust would have enhanced the experience.
As for the flavor, there were layers of intricate, subtle, and more forward flavors that all married into an exciting final dish. Fed 4 as a starter on a bib lettuce leaf but would feed 2 as a main course.
Growing up Catholic during the season of Lenten meant meatless Friday dinners. Fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish casserole, and sometimes, salmon cakes. My childhood salmon cakes were a mashup of cream corn with canned salmon munged together with bread crumbs and mystery seasoning. (I’m still to this day unsure what ingredients were included.) I tried this recipe for salmon cakes to find out if salmon cakes improved over the years.
The salmon cake which resulted from this recipe elevates a can of salmon into a restaurant-quality entrée. I was pleasantly surprised. The accompaniments—avocado spread and chimichurri—enhanced the experience that much more. The only change I’d make is the mashing of the potato. I left chunks which could have been smaller and worked in with the salmon better. Overall, a tasty dish which I was delighted to serve.
There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, which is typically a hurdle for me, but many of them are ingredients most kitchens will have available.
My first time making salmon and potato cakes. All of the hands-on work was easy. I found the cakes to be a little crumbly, but I think that’s typical of hand-shaped patties. I love the flavor combination of the salmon cakes, the chimichurri, and the avocado spread. The chimichurri was so different than a typical version with ginger and mint. It gave an appropriate zing to the patties!
I used 1 russet potato. I didn’t use chives but added an additional scallion. I did dust the patties in flour. I used a pinch of crushed red pepper in the chimichurri in lieu of a dried red chili pepper. One bunch of mint leaves was about 1 cup loosely packed.
I got 7 cakes, they came together easily but were fragile. They firmed up a bit in the refrigerator. I found it helpful to flatten them with a spatula once they were in the frying pan. The cakes were hot inside when I ate them immediately after cooking. Made a great dinner over arugula salad!
These salmon cakes were delicious although very delicate! I loved that my gluten-intolerant husband could eat them without a problem. With only the potato and egg to bind these, I wasn’t convinced they would hold together. After sitting in the fridge and firming up for 30 minutes, they did hold their shape but I had to be GENTLE with them. I used a nonstick pan and a flexible nylon spatula to turn them and even then the edges were a bit messy.
Both sauces were tasty, but the two together were overkill; either one on its own would have been enough. I preferred the chimichurri and I liked the atypical touch of ginger in it. I thought the avocado sauce was good but it didn’t really add much to the overall dish—just made it gloppier than it needed to be. Also, making two different sauces made this more labor intensive than necessary, especially for a weeknight-type dinner that starts out with canned salmon! This is going in our weeknight dinner rotation, but with chimichurri only!
I did use a very light fingertip pat of gluten-free flour. It didn’t cover the entire outside of the cakes; it was just enough to seal in the surface when it hit the oil.
I think this would make 2 main course servings or 4 appetizer course servings.
Originally published September 21, 2020