Just a smidgen over a week ago our neighborhoods were haunted by the cutest little gremlins in search of a sugar rush. Like many of the major holiday’s in western society, Halloween is grounded in Christian tradition (sans Sexy Pizza Slice of course) and is the vigil to All Souls Day, a feast day of the Catholic church dedicated to the souls of those who have gone before us. I’ll be the first to admit that my catechism is horrible and that my faith’s dogma often rubs me the wrong way, but All Souls Day is a feast I find comforting and beautiful. In my parish, the church hangs a ceiling to floor scroll on which the names of those who died in the past 12 months are listed. Although not on the list, my paternal grandmother, a stalwart Baptist (over 200 years of ministers in her family!) who left us on 27 February, was in my prayers as the mass was celebrated.
As I said, my grandmother died in February. However, we were unable to bury her until the end of May. I’ll spare you the family drama that ensued, but on that lovely spring weekend my parents and I loaded up for the eight hour drive to the family cemetery in south eastern Kentucky where my father’s maternal ancestors have been placed to rest for the past 200+ years (My grandmother’s line has several original families that migrated from Virginia and North Carolina to settle Kentucky. One was even BFFs with Daniel Boone. Crazy!)
I don’t think its a surprise that my dad and his middle sister reminisced over their favorite dishes their mom used to make them. My youngest cousin (a vegetarian) and I cringed at some of them…I mean I love bacon, but my arteries (and hips) can only take some much bacon grease lol. Apparently Grandma cooked everything in the stuff. However, this is one dish that I swear causes everyone a foodgasm: Grandma’s salmon cakes.
Ever since I was little, these salmon cakes always came up when we talked about Grandma, especially during holiday meals since, as a Marine family, we were always far away from either of my parents’ families. I think I was 10 years old the first time I had these. We were in between over-seas tours, where you have to return state-side even if just for a little bit, and we spent it in Indianapolis with my dad’s family. Canned pink salmon (my dad actually pronounces the “l”, arg!) patted together in mayonnaise to form the cakes, fried in bacon grease, and served over buttermilk biscuits and smothered in a bacon grease based gravy…and of course crumbled bacon. Oh dear me, they are sooooo soooo good.
That’s how I came up with this salmon cake recipe. Loaded with smokey, grilled flavor and topped with a creamy, but light coleslaw (I prefer Greek yogurt, but since I made these for my dad, I used an olive oil based mayo)…it is satisfying enough for even my very picky, picky dad (and mom) in between treat times where I’ll cave and give them the bacon grease…not too often now…they have grandchildren to watch grow up!
Grilled Salmon Cakes
makes 10-12 slider sized cakes
- ½ pound grilled salmon
- 1/3 cup green onion whites, finely sliced
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Cajun or seafood blackening seasoning
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons or more vegetable oil as needed for frying pan
- With a fork, flake the grilled salmon once it has cooled enough for safe handling. Add the flaked salmon to a large mixing bowl.
- Into the same bowl, add the onions, mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, seasoning, egg, and parsley. Use your hands or a flat spatula to mix the ingredients together.
- Add panko bread crumbs to the salmon mixture and fold gently.
- Take 1/4 – 1/3 cup of salmon mixture and shape into ball. Carefully press ball into a flattened cake. Repeat with remaining salmon.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Cook salmon cakes until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.
- Place cooked salmon cakes on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.
- Serve on slider potato rolls with your favorite coleslaw recipe.