Big Chop, Big Flavor

When making salmon cakes, particularly when using only a few key ingredients, the secret is to dice the fish in a variety of sizes.   A relatively fine chop will bind the cake and will ensure the patty shape survives cooking and flipping, while broader cubes, pictured below, delight the palate with pure salmon richness: Fish Cake Large Salmon

Both sizes are necessary to give the salmon its rightful place as the lead flavor.  Important when so few ingredients are used, as each flavor asserts itself.  Best the salmon keeps the others in balance.  As you may have guessed, this is one the recipes chef Jamie  Oliver features in  his cookbook highlighting “five ingredient” (more or less) preparations.  In turn, Fine Cooking showcased the meal in its August/September 2019 issue.

As these are Asian Fishcakes, the other items on the prep list provide unmistakably Eastern flavors, including vibrant lemongrass, assertive ginger and cooling cilantro.  These are finely diced along with some of the salmon, to make a filling that will hold the larger pieces of fish.  Here’s the binder, awaiting the big fish:Fish Cakes Small Salmon

Once the mixture is prepared, it’s formed into cakes, then the cakes are pan-seared to seal in the juices behind a slightly browned crust.  Finally, each is topped with a dollop of hot-sweet pepper jelly:Fish Cakes Pepper Jelly

This compliments the  flavors within, as both hot and sweet profiles find partners among the ingredients, and they help tame the fish’s richness ever so slightly.  Above all, though, it’s chopping of varying coarseness that makes this work: fine for formation, big and bold for the win!


Quick Asian Fishcakes

  • one stick lemongrass
  • 2 and 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • half a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 pounds salmon filets, skinless and boned
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons chili jam

Remove the tough outer layer of the lemongrass, then finely chop it, along with the ginger and 2/3 the cilantro.

Cut the salmon into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside half.  Add the other half to the herb mix on your cutting board, and chop the fish finely, incorporating in into the herbs.  Mix in the more coarsely-chopped salmon you set aside earlier, and season with salt.

Divide into four equal portions and form each into a 3/4-inch thick patty.  Place a skillet over a medium-high flame and pour in the olive oil.  Place the patties in the skillet and cook two minutes per side.

Spoon the chili jam over the fish cakes and garnish with the remaining cilantro.


43 thoughts on “Big Chop, Big Flavor

    1. Thanks, Crystal!

      Yeah, five ingredients allowed for maximum efficiency. Cooking, serving and writing all happened in the same day. Of course, if the ingredients list expands much beyond Oliver’s Five, it becomes a sprawling weekend-long affair.

      By the way, major kudos to you for sticking with Keto all this time. Sure, luscious salmon plays a big part in most Keto-forward plans, but it’s something else altogether to forego all those carbs.


      1. Ha! Those pie eating contests…every…single…time. Think of all the fun you had, though, and of how it reminded your students of your adventurousness. Sure to pay benefits later on when it inspires them to jostle their own comfort zones. Part of the lesson plan all along, huh?

        Besides, a kale eating contest wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting, nor would it have been pursued with the same spirit and zest.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much obliged, Jenn!

      Being next door to Maryland, everything’s all about the wonderful Chesapeake Crab Cakes. Absolutely no complaints here. Still, other parts of the seafood empire deserve the occasional shout-out too, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Rachel!

      I noticed that too about the cilantro. And speaking of substitutions, that’s Reason #1762 why I love Thai cuisine – they nearly always use shallots, not onions. Absolutely, Thai cuisine is awesome for Reasons #1 through #1761, but #1762 doesn’t escape my appreciation either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, that’d be the coconut, of course.

        Although…labelling one ingredient 1762 doesn’t mean there are 1761 better. It just makes it one of 4,660 on the list.

        Although (Part II), #1 on the list is pretty close to #1 in the more conventional sense too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, it’s never enough for use to like something. Our minds instantly go to work, (over) analyzing, (over) quantifying, (over) listing.

        Whether or not something is good is so…yesterday’s story. A simple question – “What did you think?” – brings 16,760 answers, not one. Oh, but for the simple response, clapping and exclaiming, “Yayyyy!”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Far from unfortunate, particularly as it’ll describe many a Saturday afternoon over the coming years.

        Speaking of which, given that tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, how goes your idea of making coconut-infused double chocolate cookies for your mother?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Heh.

        Thanks for asking! Though… “unfortunate” might apply most accurately here. I’ve been… Timid, lately. And circumstances don’t seem intent on allowing Mother’s Day as a holiday this year.

        But nevermind that. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day, Keith. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks for your wishes, Rachel, though I regret to read of your own difficulties.

        Here’s hope, if such a thing still is a possibility, circumstances will improve. Or, at the very least, that your ability to move onward will.

        No pressure or expectations, of course, though you know you always are welcome to discuss. Even if general concepts and themes grant the most relief, you’ll address the situation in your own way.

        Until then, if ever, you always will find the table set here every week, inviting you to a better place.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thanks, Rachel, understood. Please, never feel obligated, or expected to divulge. Many things are best left unsaid or are left to be read between the lines.

        Sometimes, though, unburdening yourself is immensely cathartic.

        Either way. I’m fine as is, but I wouldn’t have offered, either, if I weren’t willing to listen.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Enough said, then, Rachel.

        Besides, many balms are cathartic, not just the salve requiring detailed discussion. May you find three or four of them here. Come, explore the pantry! Oh, and have you heard about all the chocolate desserts to be prepared in the years ahead?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Wow, I really like the explanation! See, I figured it was swashbuckling which did in most of the baby blues, but your details are much more colorful!

        Aye, Cap’n, ye told me to keep an eye out for whales. And the last crewmate who nodded off during the watch ended up walkin’ the plank. Believe me, I have no desire to get acquainted with Davey Jones. Even if it cost me a peeper!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Indeed! Which is worse: a narwhal, or a pirate captain’s wrath? Better the narwhal.

        That said, I’m sure some are due to swashbuckling. Why, Rosy’s third mate lost an eye while dueling the king of the albatross for the hand of some foreign princess. That was his second eye though. The first was lost to a swordfish.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Swordfish, eh? What, with all the mermaids plying the waters, their attention must’ve sparked many a rivalry. Naturally, the sea creatures thought Ariel and her sisters should remain aquatic, whereas Rosy’s crew wanted them aboard. Little did the swordfish know most mermaids have a “thing” for one-eyed sailors. Thus, in wounding Rosy’s crew, they actually were increasing the swabs’ chances.

        Of course, speaking of a Captains wrath, pity the impetuous crew member who faked needing an eyepatch just to win a mermaid’s hand. When Rosy discovered the deception, he made the offender walk the plank right into a school of swordfish.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Yeah, and imagine their dismay to discover that, while they gathered to beset the plank-walker, the Cap’n lured all the mermaids aboard, and was halfway to Port-of-Spain before the fish realized what had happened.

        Bait and switch. How do you think I…er, well, someone…managed to spirit away Rosy’s rum barrels?

        Liked by 1 person

      12. *Bait* and switch? A very apt application. And so well applied, too, by our slippery captain!

        Of course, pirates are known to hold long grudges… I’m sure that whole affair was the origin of a great many self-styled Rivals of Rosy.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Indeed! So resentful were the swordfish at being snookered, they rescued Rosy’s victim and they restored him to the glowing pink of health. They even ferried him to a tropical isle teeming with castaways.

        That’s how Rosy’s erstwhile victim became his bitter and implacable foe, and how he so quickly recruited his own jolly crew. To this day, there are whole swaths of the Caribbean where Rosy dare not unfurl his banner.

        ‘Tis more than mere revenge driving the plank-walker, though. You see, though Rosy lured away all of the mermaids, there were a sizeable minority who secretly pine for our two-eyed pirate. Thus, Rosy’s Rival has set sail on a quest to rescue his lost love(s). Pretty romantic when you think of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Ha! It’s a dread pirate indeed that can hold Rosy at bay. And with a crew of his own and a school of swordfish on his side, this pining pirate might just stand a chance.

        Barring that, perhaps he’ll wind up being a candidate for the League of Failed Assassins.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Outstanding, Rachel! See, it’s creative forward thinking like that which led League members to endorse your presidency, moving you from interim to permanent. And by a landslide too. We’re talking 99.7% As for that other .3%, they’re rounding up the last of the mini-mammoths still lost after wandering up onto street level while everyone was away over the holiday break.

        Yeah, I suspect Mr. Swordfish will be applying for membership by Labor Day. Despite the fish and his rescued crew talking up his chances, and despite a few of the mermaids looking on longingly (which is as sure a way as any to boost the male ego), our erstwhile hero stands no chance against Rosy. After all, any pirate bold enough to reveal himself as a fasion-forward designer, as Rosy has, surely draws from formidable strengths.

        Thus, a couple things, the first of them a warning. I believe we were going to offer Swordfish as the pescatarian alternative at this year’s Christmas Banquet and Dance. Obviously, we can’t do that now. Maybe we can switch it to Sea Bass or Tiger Shrimp instead.

        Second, and this one is more of a starry-eyed hope, what sorts of treasures do you think Mr. Swordfish will contribute to the storerooms as part of his initiation fee? Rumor has it, he found the Holy Grail buried on that island. Also, while his castaway crew waited to be discovered, they learned how to make porcelain and to mine and smelt silver, and they created a complete and massive dinnerware set, service for 7.000, Including chaffing dishes, soup tureens and 57 different types of utensils for each place setting. Have no idea what use that was on a forgotten tropical island, but there you have it.

        Plus, though the prospective member is likely to aim at Rosy and miss, he still will inspire more than a few of the mermaids to defect, as his derring-do is sure to make their hearts flutter. I suspect they’ll love frolicking with the mammoths in any one of our eight underground (but still sundrenched, beach-met and breeze-stirred!) seas. Six of which are so vast as to be almost completely uncharted.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. My! Mr. Swordfish’s crew are rivals of Rosy’s indeed — they may not quite meet him in might, but they would certainly make competitive the Most Sophisticated Pirate Crew of the Year award. Even marooned, they did not forget the important things in life… Like eating one’s meals with the good silver. Rosy’s going to have his work cut out for him to keep his winning streak.

        Ooh… Good call on the Banquet. We’ll go with the Tiger Shrimp, I think. Never know if the mermaids fraternized with any of those bass…

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Good thinking on the bass. Mermaids are half-fish, after all.

        While their surface halves my yearn for Mr. Swordfish & Co. to win them back from Rosy, until that happens, their fish ancestry may display an undue interest in spawning.

        Between us, though Mr. Swordfish is really engaging, and I trust he’ll give Rosy a great contest, I hope that he falls just a bit short. Make the tournament spirited enough to allow those mermaids who wish it to leave Rosy, but in the end still cause Swordfish, Mermaids and Crew to seek refuge in the League. Frankly, I really look forward to hearing the hundreds of great stories each of them has, and I sort of already made plans for the League’s Dinnerware and Silver to get a major upgrade.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what we use now. In fact, those who’ve cared to comment on it have termed it “stunning” and “magnificent.” Still, it lacks the Maroon-Crafted set’s intriguing backstory. Plus, after the Greek Chapter’s enthusiastic plate-smashing at last July’s Mid-Summer Fest (and who decided to equip a cookout with fine china and Sterling cutlery?), we’re running out of spares.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Well, as you’d expect, not one of the marooned crew, not a single swab among them, knew the first thing about eating from good china, let alone creating it.

        Then one day, about two months into their isolation, who should row ashore but Josiah Wedgewood IV, heir to the legendary fine porcelain dynasty? He spent the next two years instructing a strangely fascinated crew on the intricacies of creating the most exquisite dinnerware possible. Just as suddenly, though, Wedgewood vanished. Nobody saw him leave and his current whereabouts are a mystery, yet he left behind a crew capable of crafting the finest tableware ever produced.

        They spent the next three years doing just that. It’s why, when Mr. Swordfish found the crew and rallied them to take off in pursuit of Rosy, they made their participation contingent upon Swordfish taking all that porcelain with them. It ended up being a complete set with service for 12,000, and included tureens, finger bowls, chaffing dishes, salt cellars, and countless other accessories. All of a supreme quality unmatched even at Buckingham Palace or Versailles. Took them nearly a year just to crate it and to load it aboard the ship.


  1. I love Salmon Cakes and remembered just how much while gazing at your recipe while drooling with Thor. We’ll both be over before you can say “Supercalifragililsticexpialidocious” in French, Polish and Hungarian. 🐠

    Liked by 1 person

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