Sunday, June 17, 2012

Japanese Salmon Fish Cakes with Ginger Wasabi Mayo

For years I was a faux-vegetarian. I didn’t meat but I ate fish and seafood in abundance. I was well aware of the hypocrisy of this, and under no illusion that fish was any more a vegetable than pork. But it was as large a compromise as I could make, between my inner foodie and inner hippy. In the end, years of working in rural parts of Africa made vegetarianism nutritionally, logistically and culturally unviable. So that was the end of that and meat was back on the menu.

During my fish-eating vegetarian years, friends and caterers didn’t know what to do with me and they’d skip straight to the safe bet of a fillet of salmon, baked or grilled. Salmon became the most boring and predictable food to me…until I moved to Thailand, where it is imported, expensive and a rare treat. So on my trip back to London I was excited to pick up some fresh Scottish salmon. This recipe is a far cry from the drab fillet. It is rich, luxurious and exciting.

Time: 40 mins
Rating: Easy – requires careful handing during the frying stage
Serves:  makes 9 fishcakes


700g skinless, boneless salmon fillets
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 spring onions
1.5 tbsp pickled sushi ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Plenty of vegetable oil for frying

For the mayo
150 ml mayonnaise
1 tbsp pickled sushi ginger
½ tsp dark soy sauce
½ tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp wasabi paste

To serve: large bag of spinach, drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil
A shredded spring onion to garnish


  1. Very finely chop the salmon into small chunks about half a centimetre in size. You can use a food processor but I think small chunks of fish makes for a juicier fish cake than a paste.
  2. Very finely chop the ginger and add to the fish. Cut the spring onions in half lengthways and then finely slice width-ways. Add to the salmon, along with all the other fish cake ingredients. Stir well and put in the fridge while you make the mayo.
  3. For the mayo, very finely chop the pickled ginger. Place in a bowl and add the remaining mayo ingredients. Stir well, taste and adjust the flavours to your preference.
  4. Heat about half a centimetre of vegetable oil in a pan until the oil is very hot. Using two tablespoons, spoon out the mixture and drop it into the oil. Use the spoons to neaten the edges. Don’t over-crowd the pan – only do a couple at a time.
  5. After 2-3 minutes very carefully turn the cakes over and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Turn again and cook for a further minute on each side.
  6. Remove from the oil and place on a plate with some kitchen roll to absorb excess oil. Cover with another piece of kitchen roll to keep warm. Cook the remaining salmon in batches.
  7. At the last minute cook the spinach. In a large wok heat a splash of water and a little soy sauce. Add the spinach and cook on a high heat, mixing constantly, until the spinach is wilted but not soggy. Remove from the heat and drizzle with sesame oil.
  8. Serve the fish cakes on a bed of spinach with a helping of the mayo and garnish with the shredded spring onion.


  1. Gorgeous looking cakes - so oriental :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Nice! I don't know how I survived years in Africa and stayed a vegetarian, I guess only because I really don't like the taste of meat and fish. But if I did, I would make these! Are you back in town?

  3. Great alternative to the usual grilled salmon! here in London seems that salmon is the only fresh fish affordable. Love the ginger mayo too. rita cooks italian

  4. I am a big fan of Japanese food and for sure I am loving the salmon cakes plus the mayo dipping sauce.