Kurt’s no-breadcrumb Alaska salmon cakes


My friend Kurt is a great cook. He and his husband Jason are totally the types to, you know, throw together a multi-course Indian meal complete with naan bread cooked on the grill for 12 people on a whim. They seem to always drop out of the sky when I find myself cooking for a crowd and in over my head. They came over this weekend and Kurt made his famous Alaska salmon cake recipe, which uses no flour or breadcrumbs. He says it takes away from the fish.

“Breadcrumbs are a crutch,” Kurt told me.

These cakes are delicious and perfect for frozen fish.(How rad is it to have a freezer full of salmon right now?) The recipe begins like this.  Defrost your fish (in this case, here’s a picture of half of it. Kurt and Jason brought the other half).

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And, if you haven’t put the grill away already, salt the filets, pepper them, squeeze on some lemon and put it all on the grill. You want to grill it so it’s just a tiny bit underdone. Roughly 8 minutes on medium-low heat with the top down. Or, alternately, put it in the oven on a parchment-covered sheet pan at 350° for about 8 or 9 minutes. You want it translucent in the center of the filet when you pull it out. You can also used leftover fish. Here it is off the grill:

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In the meantime, sauté peppers and onions. Chop the peppadews (sweet canned peppers), if you are into those. You can also used roasted red peppers.

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And, break up the fish with a fork. You can go coarse or fine with the texture of the fish. Be on the lookout for bones. Kurt likes to go coarse.

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Now add spices, eggs (bonus! that’s a double-yolk egg from my hens), capers, ponzu sauce (you can find ponzu, a lemony-soy sauce, at New Sagaya locations and some Freds. If you are gluten-free, skip it and use tamari ), lemon juice dijon, wasabi mayo, and some fresh ground pepper.

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Now heat a layer of oil in a non-stick pan. Form the patties. (Kurt makes them the size of a small burger) Slip them into the hot oil. Technique video:

A few notes: Kurt says that if they fall apart a little bit, just reform them with a metal spatula. Cook 4 or 5 minutes on a side until browned. Drain on paper towels.

To make sauce: Whisk red chile sauce with ponzu and soy sauce or tamari.

Serve immediately

Kurt’s Alaska Salmon Cakes

Serves 6

Five cups salmon, grilled or baked until slightly underdone, shredded with a fork, stray bones removed.

One large onion, finely chopped

One red pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup peppadews, finely chopped (optional)

2 eggs

Juice of one lemon

2-3 heaping teaspoons capers

3 tablespoons ponzu sauce or tamari

1 heaping tablespoon dijon

3 heaping tablespoons wasabi mayo

salt and pepper to taste

Canola or avocado oil

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup sweet red chile sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons ponzu sauce

Instructions:

Mix salmon with all the other ingredients. Pour enough oil in a non-stick fry pan to cover the bottom. Heat until bubbling. Form patties and gently place in the hot oil, re-forming if they break apart. Carefully turn after 4 minutes. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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