Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette – (FAK Friday)

Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Salmon Cakes – recipe in post

During the week, when I’m not cooking for the blog (as in, measuring everything really precisely), I like to surprise The Fiancé by throwing together something tasty, ready for him when he walks through the door. Something new and exciting, that I know he’ll love. Some nights it’s butter-basted sea scallops with a white wine pan sauce (one of his favorites), sometimes it’s crispy skinned salmon  with orange and sesame, sometimes it’s a rustic pasta dish with bacon and olives…

These are some of our favorite meals. I adore throwing things together on the fly, without worrying about keeping track of how long I seer something on each side or how much seasoning I use. Some of my best dishes are a result of free-form cooking like this. Without a recipe, without a care… there’s nothing quite as satisfying as being creative in the kitchen.

I made these salmon cakes a few weeks ago, and for days afterward The Fiancé talked about them. He told everyone about how delicious they were, how fresh and flavorful, how he couldn’t wait for me to make them again (hint hint, nudge nudge). I knew I had to recreate them, but the pressure was building for me to remember exactly what I had done and replicate it. Thankfully, the second time around was just as good as the first… and this time, I wrote down the recipe!

It’s FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge) – this week my studies have been focused on things outside of the kitchen, but I couldn’t let today go by without including something related to food science. Since this dish includes a favorite vinaigrette of mine, I thought I’d talk about what an Emulsion is! You’ll find the recipe for my salmon cakes and the dressing at the bottom of the post.

Oil in water - defining emulsions
Oil in Water

An Emulsion is a combination of two liquids that wouldn’t normally combine (such as water and oil). Liquids like these that don’t want to mingle are called ‘immiscible’ (meaning they won’t mix), and no matter how much you may try to mix them together they will always separate from one another. Think of a simple oil and vinegar dressing – if the two liquids are stirred or shaken, they create a temporary emulsion, where one liquid forms small bubbles within the other, but they quickly settle back into two separate layers. To make a permanent emulsion, a third ingredient needs to be added. This is called an emulsifier, and acts as a stabilizer between the two liquids to bring them together and help them play nice.

Emulsions are everywhere in day to day life, from toothpaste, moisturizers, ointments, and creams to pesticides and even asphalt and driveway sealant. In the culinary world, some of the most common emulsions are milk (an emulsion of butterfat and water), mayonnaise (egg yolks, oil and vinegar) and salad dressings.

There are plenty of emulsifiers out there, including chemical emulsifiers (like cream of tartar, used to stabilize egg white foams), proteins (like those in milk), and lecithin (lecithin is found in egg yolks, and also soy). Starches, gums, agar agar, pectin, and gelatin can all be emulsifiers as well. In my example of salad dressings, some of the most common emulsifiers are egg yolks (as in mayonnaise) and mustard (mustard seed contains natural emulsifying chemicals). Sugar can also help create a stable emulsion. Most dressings with these ingredients still need to be shaken, but they will not settle out as quickly or completely as dressings without an emulsifier.

In my vinaigrette recipe below, I use a little mustard to help keep the dressing from separating, along with some honey to thicken it. Of course, these ingredients have another, more important purpose as well… and that’s flavor!

Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, 2

Recipe Notes: The mustard in this recipe is very mild – The Fiancé isn’t a big fan of mustard, and absolutely loved the flavor in this. If you want it a little stronger, feel free to increase the amount to your liking.
For the vinaigrette, I used three different types of vinegar… what can I say, I have a lot of vinegar hanging out in my cupboards! I love the balance they create, but if you don’t have all three you can omit the raspberry, or substitute other flavored vinegars. Go ahead and play around with the recipe to make it just right for you.

Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Makes 6-7 small patties (2 patties per serving)

1 lb. salmon, skin removed
1 cup water
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1 1/3rd cup panko breadcrumbs*
1 1/2 TBSP all purpose flour
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp. whole fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. sea salt)
1/8th tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 TBSP dijon mustard
Olive oil, for the panFor the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/8th cup tarragon vinegar
1 TBSP raspberry vinegar (see notes)
2-3 TBSP honey, to taste
1-2 TBSP dijon mustard, to taste
1/2-3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

For serving:
Mixed greens
Fresh sliced avocado
Any other veggies you like

*I used panko breadcrumbs because they were what I had on hand, but other breadcrumbs would probably work just as well.

1.   Poach the salmon: In a shallow skillet or saute pan, bring the water and juice of a lemon to a boil. Once boiling, add your salmon and cover (if your pan doesn’t have a lid, use a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil). Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 6-8 minutes or until the salmon is opaque and flaky all the way through. The time will vary depending on how thick your fish is, so check the doneness by flaking the salmon with a fork. Remove the salmon from the cooking liquid and set aside to cool a little while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
2.   In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, flour, bell pepper, shallot, parsley, chopped fennel seeds, lemon zest, salt, and cayenne.
3.   Add the salmon to the bowl and break it apart with a fork. Add the dijon mustard and egg, and stir everything to combine.
4.   Form the mixture into patties. Take a handful and squeeze into a ball, then shape it into a disc – the patty should just barely hold together. If the mixture is too flaky to hold together, add another 1/2 TBSP flour. I like to make small patties, about 1/2 cup each, and make two per serving.
5.   Heat a skillet over medium-high with 1-2 TBSP olive oil. Seer the patties for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip, and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Serve over mixed greens with slices of avocado and a drizzle of vinaigrette.
6.   For the vinaigrette: whisk together all the vinegars, honey, and mustard. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Stir or shake before serving.

Uncooked patties can be wrapped individually in plastic, sealed in a zip-top bag, and frozen for up a a few months. To cook, thaw in the fridge the night before, or unwrap and thaw in the microwave at 50% power for 1-2 minutes, then cook as directed. I will definitely be making a double batch of these next time, and storing them for quick week-night meals! 
The vinaigrette can be kept in a jar or other airtight container in the fridge for up a few weeks, and should be shaken well before each use. It’s perfect for these salmon cakes, but is delicious on its own with any salad!

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39 Responses to Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette – (FAK Friday)

  1. Foodie Stuntman February 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    Very creative!

  2. Eat Live Love February 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Those look so yummy! Just found your blog and so excited to follow you!

    • Willow February 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Thanks – glad to have you as a reader!

  3. Anonymous February 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    have you ever tried these with the canned salmon?

    • Willow February 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      I have not. I’m not really familiar with canned salmon, but if it has good flavor I don’t see why it wouldn’t work… worth a try!

      • Beth Zippelius February 2, 2016 at 11:28 am #

        I love canned red salmon. It would need to be deboned and rinsed. There is a lot of salt. It is also likely cheaper to buy a salmon filet when they are sale. I would just poach it.

    • Audrey McCartney October 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      I have made these several times with canned salmon. (The first time I poached the salmon.) They turn out great and honestly it makes the difference between whether I will make the recipe or not. Just one saved step.

      • Willow Arlen October 5, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

        Great to know, Audrey, thanks for sharing!

      • Carla May 7, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

        Thanks for the input. I have canned salmon and need to use it up:) This recipe looks perfect for that. I’ll need to use GF Panko bread crumbs and a GF All-Purpose flour for my GF husband:)

  4. Kelly Blackwell February 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I do not like salmon and here you go making it look amazing! I wish I could just throw together something that looks so delightful. :) What a talent! Dropping by from Our Everyday Harvest’s blog hop. Hope you have a great weekend!

    Kelly at Here’s My Take On It

    • Willow February 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Haha, thanks! And thanks for stopping by! :)

  5. Abby February 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    gorgeous! i love the rice vinegar in the sauce, will have to give this a go soon.

  6. Ritroviamoci in Cucina February 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Hi Willow :o)
    How long I was missing your beautiful space.
    I got comfortable and I looked at all the posts from the last time and I felt like Alice in Wonderland!
    Now I know how special and talented you are, so I should not be surprised more but yet every time I do.
    I send you a big kiss from Italy.

    • Willow February 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

      Thank you so much, Valentina! I’m always happy to know you’ve stopped by. I’ve been meaning to catch up on your blog as well… I so enjoy your style, and your words transport me straight to Italy!

  7. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    I love “free form” cooking – this is normally how I cook unless it is for the Blog, like you I have had my fingers crossed recreating a recipe for the blog that was previously made in hopes it turns out like the original, so happy you succeeded!

    • Willow February 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks! Love throwing things together like that. :)

  8. Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm #


    all I can say!!!

  9. Rebekah February 19, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    Made these tonight (used different vinegars though), and everything was delicious! Thanks!

    • Willow February 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      Wonderful, I’m glad you liked it! :D

  10. Ed Wilson May 31, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Great recipes and beautiful photography

  11. Linda Tillman May 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    These sound amazing and easy! Definitely going to give these a try. Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

  12. Oma S. June 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I do not generally have a lot of different vinegars on hand. A previous comment noted that the writer had used different vinegars. How essential is it that you use the ones specified in your ingredients list?

    • Willow June 27, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Hi there Oma — you can use whatever vinegars you have on hand. I really like the combination of the brown rice, tarragon, and raspberry, but feel free to experiment with whatever vinegars you do have. My only suggestion would be to use something besides plain white vinegar, since that doesn’t really have any flavor to it. White wine, rice, or other flavored vinegars would all due fine.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Kay January 14, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    I LOVE this recipe. My husband is a picky eater and is not a fan of salmon, but I love it. He loves crab cakes, so i figure, hey, maybe he will like salmon cakes. After dinner her said “DAMN! that was great!”.. this will dish will definitely become a regular in my home! thanks for sharing!!!

    • Willow Arlen January 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Thank you so much, Kay! Hearing this just made my day. Glad your hubby liked them so much! :)

  14. Deborah January 21, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    Hey these sound scrumptious! I have a box of smoked salmon I got at Christmas and was trying to figure out what to do with it. I think i will try this out for supper tonight. Do you think I could substitute balsamic vinegar in place of the three vinegars this recipe calls for? That is the only vinegar I have on hand, besides apple cider vinegar. Thanks! :-)

    • Willow Arlen January 21, 2015 at 8:48 am #

      Hi Deborah! You could certainly make a good balsamic dressing by subbing in balsamic for the other vinegars. Using smoked salmon is an interesting addition, too — I’d be interested in knowing how it turns out!

      • Deborah January 21, 2015 at 8:53 am #

        Okie dokie I am gonna try it out on my man tonight. :-) I will let you know how it turns out. Would you do all balsamic? Thanks!

        • Willow Arlen January 21, 2015 at 8:58 am #

          If the only ones you have are balsamic and apple cider, I’d stick with the balsamic, personally. You can always taste it and see what you think, though! :)

          • Deborah January 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

            Hey just wanted to let you know using the smoked salmon was awesome! The sauce turned out fine with just the balsamic too. Thanks so much for sharing! I will be making this one again :-)

  15. Gloria January 31, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    had these for lunch and dinner the next day. I just think they are amazingly good.

  16. Carrie June 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    hi! I’m making these tonight but was wondering if I could bake the cakes instead of frying? If so, what temp and how long would you do so?

    Also, I only have skin-on salmon. Could I poach and then remove skin?

    I’m a little inexperienced. Lol. Thanks!!!

    • Willow Arlen June 23, 2015 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Carrie, my apologies for not getting back to you sooner! We had a power outage last night so I didn’t have any internet. If it isn’t too late…

      I’ve never tried baking these before, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The main ingredient that needs to be cooked once the patties are made is the egg. I would probably try 350F, for maybe 10-20 minutes (it’s hard to say since I’ve never done it, but you can always cut into one of the patties and see how hot it is in the middle).

      As for the salmon, yes, go ahead and cook it with the skin on! Once poached, the skin should peel right off.

      Hope that helps!

  17. Val January 11, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    Just tried these with canned salmon and they were delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  18. celeste Flachsbart April 11, 2019 at 12:35 pm #

    Hi, Willow

    OK for me to use wild salmon in this recipe?

    Thanks much.



  1. Salmon Cakes with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette | What2Cook - March 20, 2014

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