$8 Dinner: Salmon Cakes with Potato Fennel Purée
The challenge isn’t really eating healthy, nor is there a lot of difficulty in eating well if you have the cash to lay down on smoked duck breasts and imported cheeses. But what if you want to eat healthfully (but not in a way that involves sad little chicken breasts and low-fat cheese) and well (because you have a particular penchant for life’s small pleasures), and you’re on a budget (because the economy is in the toilet). This, I have long thought, is the the real challenge, and what this budget dinners column will highlight: Food that is good for you (maybe sometimes better than others — we all need a mac and cheese recipe when times are tough, after all), wholesome, and maybe even a little special feeling.
This week I wanted to make salmon cakes. We all know the thousand and one reasons why salmon is good for you. But salmon is also tricky: farmed salmon is terrible on the environment and not as rich in omega-3s anyway. So what’s a gal to do? Here’s what: go find the canned tuna in your grocery store. Now lower your eyes a few shelves and you will find canned wild salmon for as little as $1.69 for six ounces. Canned wild salmon is so my new best friend.
But now is where I have to tell you that this dinner didn’t go down the way I thought it would. When I returned home from the grocery store, that canister of bread crumbs that’s been in our cupboard for two years? Yeah, not there anymore. I started thinking about possible alternatives (crushed almonds? eh…) and decided to just proceed with the cakes and cross that bridge when I came to it. Turns out, canned salmon is so terrifically moist, that I didn’t seem to need an egg or breadcrumbs to hold them together. I simply formed the cakes in my hands and like magic, they stayed together. Is this how Alexander Flemming felt?
Makes 4 large cakes
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers
12 oz canned boneless, skinless wild salmon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
Place all ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir until combined. Form cakes with hands, place on a boiler proof pan, and broil until the salmon cakes have developed a nice golden brown crust on top. Serve with lemon wedges.
Potato Fennel Purée
3 yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 fennel bulb
1/2 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
Trim the fennel bulb of any fronds and its core end. Slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise into thin slices. Slice potatoes thinly and put fennel and potatoes in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Place on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes and fennel are fork tender. Drain, then place in the bowl of a food processor with butter and milk. Process until a smooth purée is formed. Season with salt and pepper.