I hate leftover fish. It always seems so dry and I never want to eat it more than once. My parents have this habit of always making way too much food so they'll have leftovers throughout the week, but what they don't understand is that leftover fish is nothing to look forward to... UNLESS you take that leftover fish and make it into something else! You can very easily flake up leftover cooked fish and then mix it with yummy ingredients to make cakes similar to crab cakes. Salmon and cod are two fishes that definitely come to mind when reusing cooked fish to make something different with it.
I decided to use our leftover salmon to make salmon cakes with Asian flavors. I wanted to utilize ingredients I already had in the house, and herbs that were growing in our garden. The only ingredient I purchased especially for making this dish was fresh ginger, because I don't normally have that on hand. My original thought was to use scallions and cilantro, since they are very common in Asian cooking, but there's none in our garden. Instead I used fresh chives and fresh Armenian basil, which is green and purple in color and delicious. You can substitute regular basil or even Thai basil if you'd like, and even cilantro would be good. Just use whatever is fresh and available.
I also used light mayo because that's what we usually have, and I feel less guilty about it, but you can certainly use your favorite mayo or even make your own if you're feeling extra bored, haha. I'm also really excited about the sriracha aioli. My friend Nick pointed out today that it's the "it" condiment of the moment. He also added that he'd eat cardboard if it was covered in sriracha aioli, haha. Good to know :) You can add more sriracha to your mayonnaise if you'd like, but I didn't want the sauce to be so spicy it overpowered the salmon cakes, so I think 1 tsp creates a nice balance, but use your judgment and add more depending on your spice tolerance. These can be served as appetizers or as a main course, and can be served plain with the sauce, or over a mixed green salad if you'd like. Personal note: I was very hungry and rushed my plating. Not loving the way I put it together, but it tasted so good!
Asian Salmon Cakes with Sriracha Aioli
Makes 8 large cakes or 16 small cakes
4 cups flaked cooked salmon
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
3 T. minced chives
2 T. chopped basil (Armenian or otherwise)
1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/3 cup dry plain bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for pan frying
1 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 tsp. sriracha hot sauce
Gently mix together the ingredients for the salmon cakes, minus the vegetable oil for frying. Be sure not to break up all the salmon pieces. Allow mixture to chill in the refrigerator until ready to assemble cakes.
Meanwhile mix together the mayonnaise and the sriracha (to your taste) to make the aioli. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Form patties with the salmon mixture using a round 1/2 cup dry measuring cup for regular sized cakes, or a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup for small cakes. You will get about 8 regular cakes or 16 mini cakes. Measure out the filling in the measuring cup and smooth out the top. Then flip it over into your hand, tapping on the bottom to release it. Then lightly flatten the cake with your other hand and place it on a parchment paper-lined tray or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining salmon mixture.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add salmon cakes to the hot oil, being sure not to overcrowd the pan (you can cook them in batches). Cook on each side for 4-5 minutes until dark golden. Remove cooked cakes to a paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain excess oil until all the salmon cakes are done. Serve with sriracha aioli.