My Two Cents: Easy Salmon Cakes

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

If you’re looking for an easy a dinner, try a salmon cake. From start to finish, this cake dinner is probably an easy 20-minute meal. The finished cake can be consumed as a burger, served with all the normal burger fixings (fries included), or it can be eaten as a main entrée, served with a healthy green salad.

Salmon pieces (with skin) ready for salmon cake-making, via Joseph HawkinsThe only debate about this meal is the decision on fresh or canned salmon. I swing either way, but I thought I’d introduce fresh over canned because fresh is so easy. And so here are the steps to generating four nice round salmon cakes.

Step 1 (Photo to the left): Go out and buy two 6-ounce pieces of salmon. Skin on is fine. The skin will end up being removed anyway at the end of the cooking process. This amount of salmon will produce four cakes.

Step 2: Place the salmon in a sauce pan, cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt to the water, and bring the water to a boil. Remove pan from the stove, cover, and let the salmon rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Assemble the first set of ingredients by placing each into a mixing bowl. The ingredients are: 1½ tablespoons of mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon of sriracha; 1 teaspoon of horse radish; 1½ half teaspoons of chives (fresh or dried); and 1 egg.

After mixing these ingredients, add the salmon to the mixture. Don’t forget to remove the skin, which should fall away with ease. The salmon should still be somewhat hot, but it can be handled by running cold water into the pan (pat the salmon dry).


Mixing the wet and dry ingredients, don't overmix!(Note:  If you don’t have a fancy mixer, you can create this dish the old fashioned way and mix everything together in a large bowl using your favorite kitchen tool for mixing.)

Step 4: Add to the wet salmon a ¼ cup of bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon of cornmeal.

Step 5 (Photo to the right): Mix the wet and dry ingredients. Don’t over mix.

Step 6: Divide the salmon mixture into four equal parts, using your hands shape the salmon mixture into four cakes. As you can see, my cakes are not uniformly shaped.

Once the cakes are formed, you can immediately cook them or save and cook later (just cover and set in the refrigerator). The cooking process is simple.

Option 1: Bake cakes. If you’re opposed to the fat that comes with sautéing or frying, then bake the cakes. Set your oven at a very high temperature (450 degrees works). Place the cakes on cookie sheet. To prevent sticking spray the cookie sheet pan with a little oil. Bake the cakes for 6-8 minutes. At 450 degrees, the cakes should brown slightly after six minutes or so.

Option 2: Sauté or fry the cakes. Add a small amount of butter or oil olive to a skillet. Let the oil heat up slightly. Add the cakes. Brown both sides — normally 2-3 minutes per side works.

Over the years, I’ve eaten my salmon cakes with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and catsup with a little Tabasco in the mix (I have even turned them into smaller salmon “meatballs” and dropped them into a curry sauce and served over rice). But when cooked perfectly—plain works too.


Ready to cook, via Joseph Hawkins

Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail. He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.

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