Salmon Patties with Crackers

5 from 11 votes
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You can take salmon cakes in any number of ways. You can make them with canned salmon, or you can, as I do, make fresh salmon patties with crackers, from meat scraped off the carcass and a sleeve of Saltines.

You can also put said patty or cake between two halves of a bun and call it a salmon burger. But these here puppies are what I am calling salmon cakes — because they are made exactly like a Maryland crab cake, only with salmon.

a plate of salmon patties with crackers.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Why? Because I like Maryland crab cakes. A lot. I grew up looking forward to them, even when they were made on the Jersey Shore; and yes, especially when I managed to get to Maryland, which was often (my prom date was from Timonium, Maryland… long story involving Model United Nations).

And, just as there are many ways to make salmon patties, there are many ways to make crab cakes.

I chose to model this recipe after one a friend of mine has made fairly famous, Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s crab cakes recipe. Bryan, of Top Chef fame, happens to also be a hunter, and we’ve done several events together. More importantly, he’s a Marylander.

As you might imagine, Bryan’s crab cakes have Old Bay seasoning in them, which is pretty much the law in that part of the world. It is widely available all over North America, but if you are reading this elsewhere, here is a recipe for homemade Old Bay.

Closeup of a plate of salmon cakes
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

He also uses “cracker meal,” which, in my world, means getting medieval on a packet of Saltine crackers. These are the perfect cracker for making salmon patties with crackers because the salt in them essentially pre-seasons the cakes. I also feature it in my recipe for fried snapper bites.

There is one other trick Bryan uses, which shows he’s a chef: Wondra flour. This is pre-cooked flour that is finer and makes a lighter crust than regular flour will. (Here’s the rundown on Wondra from The Kitchn.)

The result are light, ungreasy, salmon patties that make you think about Maryland without missing it. I prefer to serve mine with horseradish sour cream, thinned with a little buttermmilk or whole milk, and with a light salad. Makes a fine summer supper.

Closeup of a plate of salmon cakes
5 from 11 votes

Salmon Patties with Crackers

I used fresh king salmon scraps for these cakes, but really any salmon, trout or other fatty fish (mackerel, freshwater drum, jacks, bluefish, etc.) will work well here. And obviously, since this is based off a crab cake recipe, crab with do well here, too.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound raw salmon meat
  • 1 sleeve Saltines, pounded into meal
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Grated zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Wondra flour
  • Oil for frying

HORSERADISH CREAM

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions 

  • Mix everything together in a bowl except the crushed Saltines, Wondra flour and oil.
  • To make the horseradish cream, mix everything together well. You can tinker with the ingredients as needed. Remember you want to be able to drizzle this on, so it shouldn't be too thick.
  • Heat enough oil to come up about 1 inch up the sides of a heavy pan; I use cast iron. Heat it to between 325°F and 350°F.
  • While the oil is heating, add enough of the crushed Saltines so that the cakes will come together. Start with 1/4 cup. You might need more, but you won't need less. Form the cakes with your clean hands -- wetting them every so often helps a lot -- and set them aside. Mix the remaining crushed Saltines with the Wondra flour.
  • When the oil hits temperature, coat the cakes in the flour-Saltines mix and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with a salad and some horseradish cream.

Video

Notes

NOTE: I put the sleeve of Saltines in a heavy freezer bag and wail on it with a rubber mallet. You need to do something other than crush them in the sleeve they come in, because it will burst open. Ask me how I know. 

Keys to Success

  • Use any sort of raw salmon or trout here. Char is good, too, and if you are in a non-salmon or trout area, try this with tuna or bluefish or mackerel or jacks. Or, you know, crab. 
  • Make sure your oil is hot. Don't skimp on this or your cakes will be greasy. 
  • The horseradish cream will keep a week in the fridge. 
  • If you want to store these cakes for later, go ahead and make them all, then let them cool. You can reheat them in a toaster oven or refry them briefly. Once cooked the first time, you can freeze them. 

Nutrition

Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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26 Comments

  1. You can also brown the cakes on a pan and finish them in the oven ,425 for 15ish minutes. I used ricotta cheese as a binder to make it gluten free. They turned out very nice, and moist

      1. Yes, the ricotta works very well as a binder . It also helps keep it more keto friendly

  2. This is a wonderful recipe! However, I found if easier to form patties if you add the cracker meal in with the salmon and let it sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes prior to frying. It forms easier and you don’t have to use so much cracker crumbs.

    1. Bob: Probably, because they hold their shape when made, although they are fragile. I have not yet baked them. If you do, can you let me know how it goes? Thanks!

  3. I fish the Kenai in Alaska for Reds, I usually smoke the bellies but I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe for belly meat!

    1. Heidi: Either that, or cut into chunks and pulse a few times in a food processor. I scrape the meat off carcasses and then chop.

  4. Grand! Similar to what I do with left over Salmon, will have to try Wondra. I love that you use ‘pickins’. We are fortunate to live in Alaska and have Copper River Reds as well as huge Trout, will have to try it with them as well.

  5. I live in north-central Maryland and make salmon cakes (from canned, cooked salmon) often because it’s more affordable than crabmeat. These sound like they’re worth a little extra effort, though! Thank you for sharing. And if you get a chance to get back to Frederick (post-COVID, anyway), check out Voltaggio’s Family Meal. Great brunch spot.

  6. Old Piney crabber here…you hit the nail on the head with this one! Absolutely delicious and versatile as can be. Now in Florida, I’m gonna try this out on mullet, and I appreciate you mentioning jacks as well. Jack Hartman, a Sarasota fishing guide taught “take what the sea will give you (and learn how to use it).
    But you exemplify this philosophy and I look forward to your posts. Thank you!

  7. I JUST made this a couple days ago for fish Friday. Very similar recipe except I used seasoned breadcrumbs for the outside. Will have to try the Wondra next time around. I like the horseradish sauce idea. Gotta use Daisy sour cream though.

  8. Being in the Northwest, I make lots of crab cakes and salmon cakes. I put pretty much the same stuff in them, BUT, since we have celiacs in the family I use a small amount of coconut flour rather than saltines or panko. Coconut flour absorbs moisture quite well so helps to hold the patties together. If you want that crunchy outside I would think a dusting of cornmeal might do the job. Happy eating!

  9. Great tip on the Wondra flour. It’s now on my grocery list.

    I can’t wait until the fish/seafood book comes out!

  10. I lived near Baltimore for 5 years, and I still miss going to the Inner Harbor for crab cakes after a game at Camden Yards. This recipe looks good. How many crackers are in a sleeve of Saltines (or the approximate weight)? I need to substitute with a gluten free equivalent. Thanks!

  11. Very cool. Thanks Hank. I do a similar cake but use meat from the carcasses of red snapper and grouper we cach locally. It is such a great way to use meat the would otherwise be scraped. We actually enjoy eating these as much as the fillets. I add some culatro that I grow in my garden also.

  12. Hi– I want to make this recipe….so am I using raw chunks of salmon? I have always used cooked, flaked salmon and am not sure how to make this recipe with raw salmon.
    ANy help would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Cynthia

    1. Cynthia: Not chunks, but small pieces, and yes, it is raw. You make it as the recipe indicates. It will work fine.

  13. Hi Hank – Bay Seasoning receives its name from the eponymous Bay Laurel tree, and while I’m sure it’s a quality seasoning, the link you provided doesn’t include any ground Bay Laurel leaves. To my mind, you can’t have Bay seasoning without ground Bay leaves.