By Week 5, most of us have settled into the same routine we will have for the rest of the season. Which friends we’ll watch the game with, where we’ll watch game, what we’re eating, what shirts have been lucky and which shirts have been unlucky.
So you would think with these established routines that in Week 5 I wouldn’t be sitting in a car, stuck in traffic at 5:10 p.m. Pacific Time on a Thursday yelling, “GODDAMMIT! I forgot to make my picks for tonight’s game!”
Stupid Thursday Night Football, the downfall of many a fantasy football season.
Smoked Salmon Cakes
We haven’t featured much seafood on Foodball over the years. Lots of shrimp recipes, but not fish. Fish is a difficult main ingredient to make for a crowd without breaking your budget, unless you happen to be near water and you’re fishing your own trout for the grill. But mostly I avoid it because I hate the way it stinks up the place, even if you prepare it over a hot fire outside. And aside of fish tacos or nachos, I could never think of a good way to make fish seem like something that would natural pair with football.
Then I went to Scotland earlier this year, a land where they play a game called “shinty”– think of hockey before a bunch of Scots moved to Canada and were stuck with even more ice — and learned how to make smoked salmon cakes. At our first night in our little pod outside of Appin, the proprietor gave us some fish cakes to go along with our welcome hamper of cheese, chocolate, beer, scotch and such to get us through breakfasts for the week. One bite and I knew I was going to start working on my own version for the season. (My version meaning adding more herbs and lemon zest, because as a Californian it’s my duty to use up all the lemons on the front tree when I see a piece of fish, and panko because it gives it just a little more crunch.)
These nice little cakes are a good way to get the full flavor of a good piece of smoked salmon without spending a fortune, use up leftover potatoes — say after you’ve made Poutine Potato Skins, without much expending too much effort. You can easily make these fish cakes up to a couple of weeks ahead of time and freeze them, saving yourself lots of time on game day.
You can also tell people, “Hey! It’s a healthy-ish snack. Omega-3, something. Brain food. Good fats!” if people wonder why you’re not ordering pizza this week.
You will need:
4-5 ounces smoked salmon, skin removed if smoked skin-on
3-4 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced chives
2 teaspoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
2 eggs, beaten; 1 for binding the cake and 1 for breading
1/3 cup flour
1-2 cups bread crumbs, preferably panko
Olive oil, about 4-6 tablespoons You can also use a 50-50 mix of olive oil and butter, about 2-3 tablespoons of each.
Lemon wedges for serving
You can use leftover mashed potatoes that have been made with milk or cream, or just plain potatoes that have have been cooked and mashed. I’ve found that using leftover mashed potatoes that were made with a touch of milk, salt and pepper make for a moister, firmer fish cake.
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1-2 teaspoons minced chives
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper (optional)
First, mix together everything for the dipping sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour
In a large bowl, combine together the cold mashed potatoes, the herbs, the lemon zest and the salt and pepper. If the smoked salmon still has its skin, remove the skin and then flake the smoked salmon into potato and herb mixture and gentle combine. Then mix in one beaten egg for a binding agent.
Portion into 1/4 cup sized patties. Dredge each patty in flour and the rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up. You can also cover them in plastic to be made in the next 24 hours, or flash freeze on a flat baking sheet for 30-45 minutes before placing in a freezer bag if making them at a later date.
Heat a few tablespoons tablespoons over medium high heat in a large skillet. Dredge the salmon cakes in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs, and then into the hot oil, working small batches as not to crowd the pan. Cook on each side until golden, about 4-5 minutes and then drain on a clean kitchen towel. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
Serve with lemon wedges and the remoulade style sauce for dipping, or if you want, place on small buns with a little bit of sauce for a small sandwich.
Serves 4-6 as a snack.