Here are reasons you should make this salmon cakes recipe – they’re delicious, they’re easy, they’re low carb and gluten free, you can make almost everything ahead of time, they’re great with frozen salmon which means that you can use wild salmon any time of the year, they hold together while you cook them, and salmon is excellent for your health. This recipe is adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.
Fresh Vs. Farmed Salmon: I want to tell you all what I’ve discovered about fresh versus farmed salmon because it’s extremely important to your health and the environment. Fresh salmon is good for you. Farmed salmon is not. Farmed salmon does your body damage and is terrible for the environment. And as far as I can tell, the new Whole Foods label “Responsibly Farmed” is just a marketing buzzword and doesn’t mean the salmon is better for you or better for the environment. It’s nonsense… and I’m being polite.
I don’t mean to be Debby Downer here or sound too strident. I was shocked to find out what I’m about to share with you and I really think you’ll want to know about this. So an apology ahead of time for going on at some length but I feel a responsibility to you to spread the word.
This is a more complex topic than I can do justice to here. If you’d like more detail, I found an excellent source to be www.farmedanddangerous.org. Some of the highlights of my research (quotes are from the above website):
Environmental Impacts: I had the idea that eating farmed salmon was helpful to the environment because fewer wild salmon were killed. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Quotas for the wild salmon fishery are based on management decisions which are not influenced by the availability of farmed salmon.”
Salmon farming is extremely harmful to the environment. “The industry uses open net-cages placed directly in the ocean, where farm waste, chemicals, disease and parasites are released directly into the surrounding waters, harming other marine life. Escapes of thousands of farmed fish are common in this industry, as are the deaths of natural predators like sea lions and seals who are attracted to the pens of fish. More kilograms of wild fish are used to raise salmon than farmed salmon produce, depleting wild fish stocks rather than supplementing them.”
Sea Lice: “Sea lice from salmon farms are one of the most significant threats facing wild salmon. Fish farms are ideal, and unnatural breeding grounds for lice. Infestations on farms significantly increase the number of lice in surrounding waters, far beyond what would occur naturally. Before fish farms arrived on our coast, nature had a system to protect juvenile wild fish from the lice that were common on adult salmon. When wild adult salmon spawn in rivers, they break the life cycle of the sea lice. Sea lice cannot tolerate freshwater and as the adults enter their natal rivers, the lice are shed and die. The following spring when the young wild salmon migrate from the freshwater to the ocean, there are virtually no sea lice in their path. But salmon farms changed that – acting as unnatural reservoirs for parasite populations to over-winter. The chances of juvenile wild salmon encountering sea lice on their way to the open ocean are now greatly increased by the lice infested salmon farms located along the out-migration routes.”
Dead Birds and Seals: “A number of wild creatures are naturally attracted to salmon and fish farmers use deterrents like perimeter nets meant to keep these predators away from their fish. Sometimes the predators get tangled or trapped in the nets and drown. Salmon farms are also allowed to shoot and kill “nuisance” predators such as seals and sea lions. There have been some reports that salmon farms have shot grizzly bears attracted to the farm waste and storage tubs containing “morts” – dead farm fish. At night salmon farmers use bright lights to increase the growth of their fish.“Numerous marine organisms are attracted to the night lights and become easy prey, depleting them at an unnatural rate.
PCB’s and Contaminants: PCBs are persistent, cancer-causing chemicals that were widely used and are now banned. They are still in the environment. “A 2004 study in Science showed that concentrations of contaminants are significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild, and that eating farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the positive effects of fish consumption. A CTV News Investigation (2010) compared wild and net-cage farmed salmon and found that wild salmon are more nutritious than farmed with eight times more Vitamin D and three times more Vitamin A per 100 gram serving. The study also noted that farmed salmon are fattier which means they may have more omega-3s, but it also means they can accumulate higher levels of toxins such as PCBs, a banned toxin found in materials like asbestos.”
Excessive Antibiotics: “Large volumes of antibiotics are used in salmon farming to treat disease. These antibiotics are consumed by us and contaminate the environment. With the combination of exposure to disease and the ability of disease pathogens to multiply quickly in the high density conditions common to net-cages, excessive and preventative antibiotic use is common practice in the salmon farming industry.
In open net-cage fish farming it is likely for antibiotics to pass into the environment, affecting wildlife and remaining in the environment for extended periods of time. Antibiotic-resistant organisms in the marine environment will, in turn, pass their antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria, including human and animal pathogens.” The whole ecosystem (including fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and human beings) is affected.
Is Farmed salmon as good for you as Fresh?: Farmed salmon is essentially a synthetic product and is no dietary equivalent to wild salmon. “Salmon has widely been acclaimed as a healthy food choice because of the high level of omega-3 fats in wild salmon. The salmon farming industry has done much to capitalize on the good reputation of wild salmon, but farmed salmon doesn’t match the benefits of wild fish.”
Salmon contains both Omega-3s and omega-6s. “Research suggests that a healthy balance between these essential but competing fats is obtained by consuming two to four times more omega-3s than omega-6s.” Wild salmon have a consistently high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. In farmed salmon that’s not the case. Wild salmon eat fish. Farmed salmon eat a lot of genetically modified soy, canola, and corn. As a result, they contain more omega-6s than is natural and healthful.
- For the Salmon Cakes:
- 3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup almond flour, preferably Honeyville
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 small shallots, minced (may substitute equivalent amount of minced red onion)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces (if buying skin-on, purchase 1 1/3 pounds. This will equal 1 1/4 pounds after skinning) see note on how to remove the skin
- 1/2 cup refined coconut oil or olive oil
- For the Dill Sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably Best or Hellman's
- 1 cup full fat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, pounded or minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- salt to taste
- Make the Salmon Cakes:
- In a medium bowl, combine 3 tablespoons almond flour, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, salt, pepepr, and cayenne.
- Chop the salmon: working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4- inch pieces, about 2 pulses. Don't over process or it will get too mushy. It's okay if there are some slightly bigger pieces. Transfer each batch to bowl. Gently mix until combined.
- Form the cakes: scoop salmon mixture into a 1/3 measuring cup. Level top and gently turn over and shake out into your hand. Don't worry, it will come out. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat to make 8 cakes.
- Cakes may be made up to this point 6 hours ahead and kept covered and chilled.
- Make the Dill Sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Sauce may be made 1 day ahead of time.
- Fry the Cakes:
- Place 3/4 cup almond flour on a large plate. Carefully coat each cake in flour on both sides. Heat oil in a 12-inch pan (non stick or regular) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place salmon cakes in pan and cook, without moving, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer cakes to serving plate and serve immediately with dill sauce on the side.
- How to Remove Salmon Skin:Place fish on cutting board. Hold a sharp knife (I use a 12" chef's knife) parallel to the cutting board. Hold fish down with one hand and slice close to the skin in one firm motion. If some salmon is still left on the skin, no worries. It's easy to cut off.