Salmon Fish Cakes

I understand why certain foods are associated with specific ethnic groups. Like spaghetti and marinara sauce, which may be an American favorite but its origin is Italian. Egg rolls are part of Chinese cuisine, crepes are French and so on.

What I don’t get is why Salmon Fish Cakes are thought of as Jewish food?

Or are they?

Okay, my Mom made them by mixing a can of red salmon (she was adamant that it had to be red, not pink, salmon) with eggs and matzo meal. And she did call them latkes (a Yiddish word for “patties”). But sometimes she made them with regular bread crumbs and called them croquettes.

Yet, every Jewish kid I knew (and those who are now grown up) had a mother who made them. And every non-Jewish kid (now adult) I knew didn’t.

Really, fish cakes are multi-ethnic. Non-ethnic. They’re just fish cakes. You can make them with almost any leftover fish, bind them with eggs and a starch (matzo meal or bread crumbs or mashed potatoes or corn meal, whatever), shape them into patties and fry them.

They are also a good way to use fish leftovers (or fish from scratch). They are easy to make, quick to cook. And they taste good whether hot, room temperature or cold.

What more could you ask of a summer meal?

Whatever your background, try Salmon Fish Cakes. You can eat them plain or in a sandwich with a thick slice of summer tomato and some mayo. Or serve them a bit fancier with some easy to make Horseradish Cream Sauce (recipe follows).

Salmon Fish Cakes

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes
  • 2 cups crumbled, cooked salmon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 thick scallion, finely chopped, optional
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, optional
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • matzo meal (or all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks, cook them in boiling water for 12-15 minutes or until tender, drain and place the chunks in a bowl. Mash the chunks. Add the fish, egg, scallion, dill and some salt and pepper and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Shape portions of the mixture into 4 patties about 3/4-inch thick. Dredge the patties in some matzo meal to coat the surface. Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, place the patties in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Makes 4 servings

Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek style
  • 1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Mix ingredients thoroughly.

Makes 1/2 cup