Ella loves ketchup—I mean, really, really loves the stuff. She’d probably be happy squeezing it into her morning oatmeal and would certainly eat it with a spoon if we let her. I find this abhorrent. I’m not much of a ketchup fan, and I get shivers when I see her slathering a beautifully cooked bite of roasted chicken in the sweet stuff. I gave up on fighting her on this years ago, however, as I’d rather see her actually eat the meat or even those string beans, even if they’re dipped in red, than not eat them at all. But every now and then ketchup gets demanded and the chef inside me dies a little. Take these potato and salmon cakes. They are utterly lovely—crispy on the outside and tender within, laced with scallions, ginger and garlic. A hint of sesame oil and tamari (or soy sauce) give them an Asian flare, which is contrasted by a cool yogurt dill sauce. Since they can be assembled up to a day ahead, they’re great for busy weeknights or entertaining friends. We love them. At one time Ella did too.
But last week she decided not to eat them unless, you guessed it, they were served with ketchup. Oh what a travesty, what a dishonor to this delicious dish! Do all parents feel this disappointed with their four-year-old’s culinary choices? I tried reasoning with her: “But you love salmon, you like fried potatoes, and you even like yogurt sauce. So you should love these!” Not a chance in hell, Mama.
So, I finally succumbed, and she ate hers with ketchup. Thankfully James, happily oblivious to the obvious drama and distress this was causing within my chef’s heart (my pride once again defeated by the saccharine red sauce) proclaimed the cakes “absolutely stellar” and begged for the leftovers for his lunch. This was coming from a guy who refused to eat much more than hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches as a kid and who wouldn’t even touch fish until he was in college. I guess there’s still hope for Ella after all.
I promise you, these crispy cakes are utterly addicting and a cinch to make. But please, please don’t eat them with ketchup.
Potato & Salmon Cakes
- 1.5 pounds medium red skinned potatoes , peeled and halved
- 1 pound salmon fillet
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 scallions , thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove , minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- Sunflower or safflower oil for frying
- Yogurt Dill Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer into a large bowl (alternatively, mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork until smooth).
- Meanwhile, put the salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake until medium rare, about 15 minutes. Gently flake the salmon, discarding the skin. Add the flaked salmon to the potatoes, along with the scallions, garlic, ginger, tamari or soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into ½-cup patties (makes about 9 patties). Do Ahead: The patties can be covered tightly and refrigerated overnight.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat ¼ inch of sunflower or safflower oil until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the patties over high heat, until browned and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining patties, adding more oil and adjusting the heat as necessary. Bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with Yogurt Dill Sauce.
Yogurt Dill Sauce
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (regular or nonfat)
- 1 garlic clove , grated on a microplane
- ¼ cup chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Do Ahead: The yogurt sauce can be made up to 1 day in advance.