Like most Americans of a certain age, I ate canned tuna all the time when I was growing up. But canned salmon? No thanks. Why would I bother with it when fresh salmon is readily available?
But Pacific wild salmon, the most sustainable choice, turns out to be very seasonal. And very pricey when it is available. So, I decided to give canned salmon a whirl.
Well, it turns out that canned salmon is delicious, and perfectly suited to swap in for canned tuna in any of the recipes I love. The only downside is that it can be dry. So for a fish-cake recipe, I had to dream up ingredients to make the cakes moist – and still healthy.
I started with sautéed onion, letting it get a little caramelized to add extra flavor. Then I added low-fat mayonnaise, a good moisturizer and not bad tasting, especially if you cut its sweetness with a little vinegar. To bind the cakes I used crushed sesame rice crackers.
Heat-wise, I went with wasabi, which glorifies fish. At the supermarket, you’ll find two main varieties of wasabi: the powdered kind, which is shelf-stable (you just add water) and wasabi in a tube, which must be refrigerated after being opened. Either will work nicely in this recipe.
These salmon cakes are topped off with cucumber pickles flavored with rice vinegar and fresh ginger. The pickle liquid also helps to bind the cakes, while the crunch of the cucumber slices provides a pleasing contrast to the cakes’ tender texture. These little pickles are so quick and easy to make – you’re done in 10 minutes – I don’t know why I don’t make them more often.
Sara Moulton hosts public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and is the author, most recently, of “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”