Good & Cheap: Salmon Cakes w/Platanos & Zucchini Spaghetti


Good & Cheap: Salmon Cakes w/Platanos & Zucchini Spaghetti

Despite my love of food and many years of professional cooking experience, dinner on a school night in my house is often an unplanned mad dash to get something quick, nutritious and most importantly delicious on the table. This meal was inspired by a recipe my friend and colleague Nadine Nelson of Global Local Gourmet teaches as part of her community based food education workshops in New Haven, CT, Boston and beyond. Canned salmon is used for the fish cakes, making this a very affordable and easy recipe. There were two happy accidents that happened to create this recipe. Number one: I had a bowl full of ripe plantains, and inspiration hit to bulk up my single can of salmon with a pile of finely chopped plantain, and hope that the pan frying would be enough to cook them worked and was so delicious. Number two: I never have bread crumbs in my house, which are a staple in most fish cakes. Store bought bread crumbs are usually filled with hydrogenated oils, which I avoid to save my heart, and in this house of bread lovers, there is rarely a left over scrap to dry and crush for crumbs. So, inspiration, #2, rice cakes broken into small pieces worked perfectly as a binder, and I always have some of those in the cabinet.  

The second part of this meal was brought on by a brief longing for the foods of summer as the cold of winter is settling upon us. That, and a big bag of zucchini I bought from the discount produce section.  The pesto of summer and our backyard city garden is long gone, but I decided to try using a ton of pounded garlic, and smashed pumpkin seeds, sort of a pesto without herbs, lightly sautéed as the sauce, and it worked. This zucchini was sliced into spaghetti-like strips on a $20 japanese mandoline, a tool I've had for decades and love. Spiralizing veggies is a big fad these days, and you can also just shred zucchini on a box grater or cut them in any shape you like with a knife if the kitch factor of veggie spaghetti is just too much for you. However, if you have the patience for a little extra prep and have the tools, this zucchini "spaghetti" is delicious and has been a huge hit with everyone I've served it to, young and old.

Salmon Cakes w/Platanos

1 can salmon
1 ripe sweet plantain (yellow skin with a lot of black on it)
1 small onion, finely diced
3 rice cakes, broken into tiny pieces (or 1/2 cup bread crumbs)
1 egg
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 Cup flour and/or cornstarch for coating, seasoned with adobo or salt and pepper
  • Oil for pan frying
  1. Open can and drain salmon well. Pick out all the bones. Use a for to break up salmon into fine pieces. 
  2. Mix all ingredients together well, except the flour for coating. Form the mixture into 6 medium burgers or 4 large burgers. 
  3. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of oil to the pan. Pat each burger lightly into the seasoned flour mixture on each side and place in the hot pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden on one side without moving. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 3 minutes more. 
  4. Eat right away, or save and reheat in the oven. Feel free to get creative and add other seasoning like curry, or finely chop other veggies to add to the mix. 
RECIPETagan Engel