Some foods are inarguably healthy. And wild salmon is one of ‘em.
It’s a rich source of omega-3 fats, astaxanthin (a potent antioxidant), protein, and a variety of minerals. (That’s one of the reasons I feature wild Alaskan salmon as a food to emphasize in Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.)
But despite these benefits, it hasn’t always had a place in my diet.
Growing up, I felt like salmon tasted too fishy. And later, it seemed like a costly splurge for a meal I was pretty much guaranteed NOT to enjoy.
(It’s hard to spend money on healthy food that doesn’t taste good, right?! You may feel that way about certain vegetables.)
Luckily, I gave salmon a second chance.
If you can get your hands on freshly-caught (or flash-frozen) wild Alaskan salmon, you’re in for a gourmet treat.
Up in Alaska, where the rivers quite literally burst with salmon throughout the summer, it’s not unusual to have salmon on the menu a few times each week.
(I know, I know. Hard life, right? But if you want to know what it’s really like to eat clean in a rural area, read this.)
Really though. I was just joking with some friends about how it’s normal to show up at a potluck to find an array of smoked salmon, salmon dip, and salmon cakes (all wild-caught and local, of course). But if someone brings fresh fruit, it’s demolished in minutes.
Value is all relative.
Salmon cakes are a go-to to use up the season’s bounty, but I’ve noticed that most recipes call for flour, breadcrumbs, or crushed-up crackers.
Since I eat wheat-free due to food sensitivities (and minimal grains), I’ve improvised here by using mashed potato as the binder. If you eat a very low-carb diet, you may opt to leave this out, just be aware that your salmon cakes may not hold together as well.
[Random sidenote – I’ve seen some salmon cake recipes suggest you puree the fish in a blender or food processor. Unless you like fish cakes with the texture of baby food, DO NOT DO THAT!
Flaked fish = good. Pureed fish = disgusting.
Don’t ruin a good thing (and create a mess to clean up) by following that terrible advice.]
Wild Alaskan Salmon Cakes
- 2 lb wild Alaskan salmon (sockeye “red” salmon or coho “silver” salmon, cooked)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- juice from ½ lemon
- 1 large russet potato, peeled, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, minced (red, orange or yellow for best color)
- 3 green onions, minced (green and white parts)
- 3-4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked, chopped
- 2 eggs (ideally from pasture-raised hens)
- coconut oil for cooking
In a small pot of salted, boiling water, cook potato until easily pierced with a fork. Drain water. Mash until smooth. Let cool.
Once potatoes are cooled, place all ingredients in a large bowl. (Double check that any bones have been removed from salmon.)
With very clean hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients. Form into patties and set aside (place in refrigerator unless cooking right away).
Heat 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Fry the cakes for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown. You may need to add additional coconut oil with each batch.
Serve with coleslaw, salad, or vegetables, and homemade tartar sauce.
NOTE: Even if you don’t have the luxury of living in Alaska or have access to quality fresh or frozen salmon, you can easily substitute canned wild Alaskan salmon - or any other type of fish - in this recipe. Halibut and cod work extremely well in this recipe.
ANOTHER NOTE: This is a great way to use up leftover salmon or other fish.
A few good reasons to splurge & make wild Alaskan salmon cakes:
- Think smarter. Just 3 ounces (about one wild Alaskan salmon cake) boasts 1200mg of omega-3 fats, including a good amount of brain-nourishing DHA.
- Protect your skin. That’s because salmon has a ton of the antioxidant, astaxanthin, which may reduce UVA damage from the sun. It’s like sunscreen from the inside-out.
- Boost your vision. Astaxanthin may reduce eye strain, fatigue, and even help prevent macular degeneration.
- Calm inflammation. The combination of omega-3s and astaxanthin is an inflammation-fighting duo, making it a great choice for a post-workout meal.
And if you want the most benefits, opt for Sockeye salmon (also called “red” salmon), which has the highest levels of astaxanthin.
Until next week,
PS – Wondering what’s in the side dishes? I followed a similar recipe to this one for the coleslaw (just sub purple cabbage). And the baby broccoli was prepared in the same manner as these pan-seared Brussels sprouts.