Lately, I’ve been looking to add more healthful seafood to my diet without breaking the bank. While canned fish will never have the allure of a fresh filet, today’s good-quality canned salmon is not the fishy, bone-studded mush you may be picturing.
The boneless and skinless fish – once flaked and mixed with brown rice, cilantro, shallots and lime juice – cooks into crisp-edged cakes that make an easy and satisfying weeknight meal, especially topped with a dollop of sriracha-spiked mayonnaise.
The fresh flavors of Southeast Asia season these cakes, making them a little different from the usual mustard- and celery-studded fish cakes. In addition to cilantro and lime juice, a bit of fish sauce adds depth and savoriness to the mixture. But I think it’s really the sriracha mayonnaise that takes it over the top, whether dolloped over each cake or served on the side for dipping.
This is one of those condiments that tastes so much better than it ought to, given how simple it is to make. Mix bottled sriracha sauce with mayonnaise. Done. Yet the subtly spicy sauce is so much better than plain old mayonnaise, it’s difficult to not slather it onto everything. I have my friend Lydia of the blog Apples & Onions ( applesandonions.com) to thank for this magic condiment. She made it for the banh mi bridal shower she hosted for me a couple years ago. I have found many excuses to make it since then.
And while these cakes don’t take much time to mix together if you have cooked rice on hand, they hold together better if they are allowed to rest in the refrigerator before you cook them. This makes it easy to assemble them ahead of time – either in the morning or the night before cooking – for a quick, healthful main dish that feels fancy enough to forget it’s actually budget-friendly.
COMBINE salmon, rice, egg, cilantro, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce in a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, shape and lightly squeeze the mixture into cakes about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and set aside on a plate. If you have time, cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to overnight.
WHISK together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside or refrigerate.
PLACE a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet in the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees. Remove the hot pan with oven mitts. Coat pan with oil and place cakes in pan. (Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook in batches.) Return to oven and cook 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned on one side. Flip and cook 5-7 minutes longer.
SERVE dolloped with sriracha mayonnaise.
NOTES: Short-grain brown rice has a sticky texture that helps hold the cakes together better than long-grain brown rice. The cakes will still be delicious if made with long-grain brown rice, but they will fall apart a bit during cooking. You can also cook the cakes in a skillet on the stove over medium heat until browned on both sides. Try cooking the cakes in coconut oil for another flavor variation. YIELD: 5 (2-1/2-inch) cakes, about 2 servings.
Anjali Prasertong is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website on food and home cooking.