Salmon, dill and fennel cakes, mixed greens, fennel salad
Salmon is a rare treat for me. I only ever cook it when my husband is away as he not only refuses to eat salmon, but complains profusely about the cooking smell too. I enjoy having something that I only cook especially for me, it seems to add to the pleasure; a solitary, illicit supper.
I was in northern Norway last weekend, hoping to see the northern lights. We were lucky that they obliged us, dancing briefly but mesmerisingly across the starry skies. The stars themselves were also fabulous, with the milky way in full view, an unfamiliar sight for us city dwellers! I ate a lot of fish whilst I was there, although none of it salmon. Every dish I ordered seemed to come with a tangle of fennel shavings on the top. I wouldn’t normally choose fennel as I don’t like aniseed flavours, but eating it like this was really enjoyable, adding subtle flavour, freshness and crunch, so I thought I’d try it myself with some salmon cakes.
This is a quick and light supper dish. You could make it more substantial by adding some noodles or rice maybe, but I like it as it is, with just green vegetables in a little light broth.
Roughly chop one skinless, boneless salmon fillet and place in the bowl of a food processor. You could probably do this by hand by chopping the salmon very finely. Add one finely chopped spring onion and a tablespoon of chopped dill. Crush 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds and 1 juniper berry (optional) and add to the salmon. Finally add half an egg white and a good pinch of salt. Blitz together until just combined, I like to keep some texture. Pop the mixture into the fridge to chill whilst you prepare the greens and the fennel.
Chop the bottom off a bulb of fennel to get rid of the stalky bit, then, using a vegetable peeler, make fine shavings of fennel for the salad topping. I used about 1/3 of a bulb. Place in a bowl with a spritz of lemon juice and a little more chopped dill.
Heat about 150ml of light stock with a pinch of salt in a pan. I used dashi, which is a Japanese seaweed based stock which I thought would complement the fish flavours, but any light stock is fine. Roughly chop some spring greens or other green veg of your choosing and add to the hot stock.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat then drop heaped teaspoons of the salmon mixture into the pan. I don’t think there’s much point trying to form them into nice neat shapes and the mixture is quite sticky. Cook for a minute or so on each side until golden then drop them into the pan with the vegetables and stock to poach for another minute or two.
Pour into a bowl and then top with the fennel shavings.
1 salmon fillet
Mixed green vegetables
1 bulb fennel
1 spring onion
1 egg (half the white only)