Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

Fish cakes made with fresh-cooked salmon! So incredibly tender and flavorful, especially with spicy mayo sauce! Great way to use up leftover salmon, too.

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Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

My mother loved to mix canned salmon with a few seasonings and shape it into cakes headed for a hot skillet. This meal thrilled us as kids and it was an easy cooking night for her.

Now I make salmon cakes with fresh cooked salmon, which only adds a few minutes to the prep time and makes incredibly moist cakes. This is also a great way to use up leftover salmon from another meal!

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy MayoIn a hot oven, most cuts of salmon take about 10 minutes per inch to cook. I start it under the broiler to char the skin, which flavors the flesh. If the grill is on, I grill the fish instead of broiling – which is ideal because it adds smoke to the cakes.

If I’m planning a few days’ worth of menus or cooking for guests, I cook the salmon a day in advance. You can also prep the mayo the day before (both salmon and mayo double easily for a crowd).

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

Some day-old bread – one of last night’s dinner rolls or a slice or two from a loaf — torn into small pieces and an egg helps to hold the cakes together. Some cocktail sauce, fresh dill, and Worcestershire get added for flavor.

Pat the cakes lightly with flour and fry them in oil until the outsides are crisp.

These fresh salmon cakes need a sauce with a little spice to balance their mildness, so I whisk mayo with a little extra cocktail sauce, some Sriracha, lemon juice, and mustard. The mayo isn’t very spicy, but go ahead and shake in more Sriracha for more heat, if you like.

The golden cakes and their rosy sauce are perfect on the back porch or patio, by the lake or sea, or at the kitchen table.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (2 cakes each)

Looking for a recipe with canned salmon? Try this recipe!

Ingredients

For the spicy mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon bottled cocktail sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha or other chili-garlic sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the salmon (or substitute about 3 cups leftover cooked salmon):

  • Canola oil (to oil the baking dish)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless salmon, skin intact
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the cakes:

  • 1 day-old dinner roll (about 3-inches across) or 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill leaves, stripped from the stem
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons bottled cocktail sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for shaping

Method

1 Make the spicy mayo: In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, cocktail sauce, Sriracha, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Taste for seasoning and add more Sriracha or lemon juice, if you like. Cover and refrigerate until needed, or up to a 5 days.

2 Cook the salmon: Turn on the broiler with an oven rack positioned about 8 inches below. Rub a baking dish with oil (any baking dish large enough to hold the salmon is fine). Rub the salmon on both sides with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

Set it in a baking dish, skin side up, and slide it under the broiler. Broil for 4 minutes, or until the skin is charred.

Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees. Continue cooking the salmon for 8 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque in the center and the flesh flakes apart easily.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

3 Break the salmon into flakes: Let cool until cool enough to handle. Peel away and discard the skin. Transfer the fish to a bowl and gently flake it into small pieces with your hands or a fork.

You should have about 4 cups of flaked salmon.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

4 Make the salmon mixture: Tear the dinner roll into 1-inch pieces and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the dill, egg, cocktail sauce, Worcestershire sauce, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Pulse until the mixture is blended and still a little chunky. (Do not process so long that the mixture becomes a paste.)

Add the egg mixture to the salmon mixture and stir thoroughly with your hands or a spatula.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

5 Shape the patties: Dust a cutting board with the flour. With your hands, shape the salmon mixture into 8 patties. Sprinkle them lightly with flour and set on a large plate or baking sheet.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

6 Pan-fry the cakes: Set the oven at 250F. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.

Add 4 of the cakes and cook without disturbing for 4 minutes, or until golden on the undersides. Turn and cook 4 minutes more, or until golden. Transfer to the baking dish and keep warm in the oven.

Discard the oil in the pan (the flour tends to brown too much) and carefully wipe the pan with a paper towel. Fry the remaining 4 cakes in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same way.

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

7 Serve warm with spicy mayo. 

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Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

More from Sheryl

5 Comments

  1. KP

    I made these last night, followed the recipe exactly. These were very, very good. My husband requested that we add it to our usual rotation of dishes for weeknight meals. I cooked the salmon earlier in the day and I went ahead and made the patties and just stuck them in the fridge to cook later. It worked perfectly. YUM! Thank you for the recipe!

  2. Nancy Larkin

    ANY sriracha is too much as far as my tongue is concerned, so I threw in some fresh tarragon instead… wonderful!

  3. Bebe

    I broil pieces of salmon like the one pictured (making sure butcher gives me reasonably even thickness by trimming off the thin belly stuff) in my kitchen broiler for about 4 minutes on the flesh side, 4 minutes on the skin side (gives a really good char!) and, after removing skin (which comes off easily) another minute to catch anything that is still raw-looking. Lately I have painted all of the flesh sides with hoisin sauce before broiling. Wonderful!

    But….we never have leftovers. So good that we eat every bite. So could this recipe be used the old-fashioned way, with canned salmon?

    • Sheryl Julian

      Hello Bebe! Your salmon sounds lovely. You should try making twice what you need so you have some left for the salmon cakes. I haven’t made this particular recipe with canned salmon, but why not? Try using 2 cans of salmon and see what you get. We’d love to hear back. Happy Cooking!

  4. Paige Flamm

    I love salmon cakes! These look amazing!

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