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How to make salmon and shrimp fish cakes


In my eternal search for the perfect fish cake, I find the best way to get the results I crave is to create my own recipe that has all the right elements.

My ideal cake is packed with fish, has little filler and is not mushy. It should be crispy yet succulent, salty with a hint of sweetness, and burst with fresh herbs and tiny bits of chili. A cooling, citrusy yogurt sauce spiked with Sriracha is the finishing touch, for deliciously addictive results.

This fish cake checks all the boxes. Actually, the term “fish cake” really doesn’t do it justice. While “fish” is correct, “cake” infers flour, fat and eggs with a breadlike crumb. My ideal fish cake has none of that. It’s packed with salmon and shrimp. Fresh salmon’s thick flesh yields a buttery-rich and sturdy fish cake, which is balanced by sweet morsels of tender bay shrimp. An extra helping of hot smoked salmon adds a salty, smoky edge, rounding out the flavors.


The binder is kept to a minimum: a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs, just enough to hold the fish together with a jumble of fresh herbs, lemon and chiles. The result is fresh, meaty, vibrant and flavorful, and proves that you can, indeed, take the cake out of a fish cake.

Salmon and Shrimp Fish Cakes With Lemon-Chile Sauce

Yield: Makes about 16 (2-inch) cakes


Fish cakes:

  • 1 pound salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces cold smoked salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces bay shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red jalapeno or Fresno chile, stemmed and seeded, minced
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus 1 1/2 cups for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely grated yellow onion, with juices
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Tabasco
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Grapeseed oil for pan-frying
  • Lemon wedges and parsley or dill sprigs for serving


1. Combine the salmon, smoked salmon and bay shrimp in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to finely chop without overprocessing. The consistency should be slightly chunky and not mushy. Transfer the fish to a large bowl. Add the chiles, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, the onion, parsley, dill, yogurt, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper and stir to combine without overmixing.

2. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl. Using a soup spoon, scoop out a generous amount of the salmon mixture. With a light hand (it helps if they are moist), carefully form the mixture into a plump 2-inch patty. Gently roll the patty in the breadcrumbs to evenly coat and place on platter, gently pressing to slightly flatten to about 3/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining fish, rinsing your hands between batches and adding more breadcrumbs to the bowl as needed. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the fish cakes for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

3. Whisk sauce ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until use.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. In batches, carefully add the fish cakes to the pan without overcrowding. Fry the cakes until golden brown and cooked through, turning once with a spatula, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cakes to a plate lined with a paper towel and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining fish cakes. Transfer the cakes to a warm serving platter and garnish with parsley or dill. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the TasteFood blog, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories. More of her recipes from ella can be found


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