Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

August 15, 2013

Moist, flavorful, healthy fish cake

Like most Americans of a certain age, I ate canned tuna all the time when I was growing up. But when someone first suggested that I try canned salmon? Well, I was horrified.

Why would I even bother with canned salmon when fresh salmon is readily available? But Pacific wild salmon, the most sustainable choice, turns out to be very seasonal. And then very pricey when it is available. So, I decided to give canned salmon a whirl, rationalizing that most canned salmon is of the wild variety anyway.

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 this recipe for fish cakes I had to dream up the ingredients required to make the cakes moist — and still healthy.

I started with sauteed 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. These little gems are low in calories; 20 of them weigh in at 110 calories. I often reach for them during that late afternoon hour when I'm otherwise ready to eat my hand.

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. And if you can't find wasabi in your store, add some bottled horseradish instead.

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.

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