A seasonal salmon primer: Pink salmon

Pink salmon cakes on sourdough with lemon herb aioli (AP Photo)

Matthew Mead

With a delicate flavor, rosy pink flesh and a texture similar to trout, pink salmon offers a blank canvas for sauces and other flavorings. Pink salmon is extremely lean, with soft meat and a small flake.

“We got pinks that I sauteed,” says Anita Lo, owner and executive chef of New York’s Annisa restaurant. While she doesn’t use them in the restaurant, Lo says pink salmon do well on the grill or in the pan, and offer an environmentally friendly dinner. “I’m interested in species that not everyone uses,” she says. “It’s a little more sustainable that way.”

As with keta, pink salmon benefits from fat and dairy to mellow it out. The roe also is used for sushi.

Recommended preparations: quiche; salmon burgers; sauteed

Often found: Shows up often in the frozen food section as salmon burgers; salmon salad sandwiches; as sushi (ikura).

Available: Year-round in cans, pouches and frozen; fresh mid-June through September.

PINK SALMON CAKES ON SOURDOUGH

WITH LEMON-HERB AIOLI

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 4

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme

1 tbsp. minced fresh savory

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

9 tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 large shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. drained capers

1 lb. pink salmon, fresh or canned, chunked or chopped

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Sliced cucumbers

4 thick slices toasted sourdough bread, to serve

To make the aioli, in a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, thyme, savory, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and the lemon zest and juice. While whisking, slowly add 8 tablespoons of the olive oil, a dribble at a time. The mixture should be smooth and thick. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if needed. Refrigerate.

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots, garlic and capers and cook until the shallots are tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, then add the chunked salmon and breadcrumbs. Gently mix.

Gently form the mixture into 8 patties, each about 2 1/2 inches round. Place some flour in a shallow dish, then one at a time set the salmon patties in the flour, turning to lightly coat both sides.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the patties, working in batches if necessary, and sear on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Arrange the salmon cakes on the toasted sourdough slices, topping with cucumber slices and dollops of the aioli. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 690 calories; 430 calories from fat (62 percent of total calories); 48 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 180 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 29 g protein; 660 mg sodium.

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