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.