Salmon Cakes: Sizzle Without Steak

After an extended ocean passage, these cruisers find themselves craving beef—but the local delicacy of salmon cakes they discover is even better. People and Food from our January 2013 issue.

Salmon Cakes

Lynda Morris Childress

After 11 days of thrashing through the Atlantic on Summer Love, our Montevideo 43, we spotted a cluster of clouds mustering over Saint Helena. This remote island, with an area of only 47 square miles, is easy to miss. There's no breakwater, no harbor, and no crime. The residents, called "Saints," are friendly folks with wide smiles and sun-kissed faces. Many come down to the landing quay to watch arrivals such as ours.

I washed my crusty face, combed my tangled mop, and still looked every bit as windswept as the island, but there was no time for fussing. My husband, Robb, was eager for a juicy steak and had already hailed the water taxi. It was fast approaching. We jumped aboard the little tug and headed for the quay. The landing here is precarious: A huge swell surges toward the dock, smacking it hard and sending water showering over the quay; then the water drops suddenly, taking the boat with it. As we rode the swell toward the dock, eyes fixed on the lines dangling from a metal bar, I planned my launch—a successful swing would be all about the timing. The boat rose above the quay, and just before it plunged, I grabbed a line and swung like Tarzan. I found my feet, barely, and veered off to embrace two surprised spectators, much to their delight, then staggered up the wharf.

My meander into Jamestown drew much attention. I walked like a confused crab, easily able to greet the Saints on both sides of the road. Eventually, Robb tugged at my arm and said, “That’s enough, now. Let’s find that steak!”

“I’m stopping at the first place we come to,” I said. “I’ve lost my land legs!” And with that, I stumbled up the steps of Anne’s Place. We sat down on the porch under a ceiling of scalloped flags and asked for the menu.

“You don’t need a menu, ma’am,” said the chef. “All we have are fish cakes.”

Robb glared at me. I glared right back.

“I can’t get up,” I said. “I can’t walk.”

The matter was settled. The steak would have to wait.

The fish cakes were delicious. Even Robb had to agree. Perhaps it helped that the cakes were made with tuna, the steak of the sea!

Next, we’d follow the sunsets and find beef in Brazil. As we slipped away quietly the next morning, I looked out at the rolling Atlantic and smiled. At least I knew my sea legs were ready!

There are many recipes for fish cakes on Saint Helena. Every Saint has his or her own. It’s true that I’m no Saint, but here’s mine, using salmon, which I find equally delicious.

Salmon Cakes Recipe
Ingredients:
14-ounce can pink salmon
2 medium potatoes, cooked, mashed
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, diced finely
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon wedge
Black pepper, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Caper Mayonnaise
Combine 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon capers (chopped), the juice of 1 lemon wedge, and 1 clove garlic (crushed).

Drain salmon and mix with mashed potatoes and beaten egg. Add onion, parsley, and lemon zest. Season with black pepper. If the mixture feels too sloppy or wet, add 1 tablespoon flour before making patties. Use remaining flour to coat hands, then form eight patties and dust with a bit more flour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Fry patties in oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes each side, until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve with caper mayonnaise and lemon wedges.

Yields eight fish cakes.

Can Be Prepared: At Anchor
Prep Time: 60 Minutes Plus
Degree of Difficulty: Medium

Ready for dessert? Make it a meal with Bananas in Sweet Rum Sauce.

For more recipes to cook on a boat, click here.