‘Tis the Season: Salmon Potato Latkes

Sometimes the closer we are to something, the less we appreciate it.  Such was the case between salmon and me; I had to leave the Pacific Northwest, where it is abundant, before I could realize how good I really had it.

Salmon are unique in that they live part of their lives in the ocean and then migrate into fresh water and head upriver toward home, where they breed. In spite of crashing about on rocks and getting badly banged up, they have a mission that keeps them going.

Kettle Falls postcard, courtesy nwcouncil.org
Kettle Falls postcard, courtesy nwcouncil.org

Fresh caught Atlantic salmon is tasty and farm raised works in a pinch, but when it comes to salmon, Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

In the Pacific Northwest, Indian tribes have long cherished sacred gathering spaces where they could spear and net great salmon that thrashed and leaped over rocks and falls on their way upstream.

Now, dams and ladders have altered the natural landscape and forever changed these ancient rites and traditions.

Since it is all about celebrating salmon’s fresh and briny taste, the simpler the preparation the better. In the pan or on the grill, salmon stays moist and does not fall apart easily.   When it comes to nutritional value salmon has little competition in overall protein, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and collagen.

You could say I am on a salmon run of my own.  Last week it was Smoked Salmon Mousse, this week I have finally succumbed and used up the last can of wild caught salmon.  It was a touchstone on my shelf that I did not give up easily.

No question, Salmon Potato Latkes—otherwise known as potato pancakes with salmon—are a worthy treatment for any fresh caught salmon.  If you don’t happen to have a can of salmon hanging around, an 8 oz fillet or steak lightly poached will work beautifully, too.Salmon Latke

Remember to begin by coarsely grating the potato and onion; allow it to drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes, and then wrap it all in toweling while assembling other ingredients. This removes unnecessary moisture and helps the egg to bind all into crisp salmon studded potato pancakes.

Salmon Latke with forkTraditionally, potato pancakes are served with applesauce or sour cream. Here, I opt for a quick sauce of yogurt speckled with green onions and capers.

Beyond a light dinner entree, consider this a breakfast alternative, a brunch option topped with an egg and perhaps a little Hollandaise Sauce, or make dollar-sized cakes for an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre selection.

Salmon Potato Latkes

Inspired by Classic Potato Pancakes by Andrew Friedman at Epicurious.com

1/2 large onion — peeled
2 medium Idaho baking potatoes — peeled
8 ounces salmon, approximate — canned or fresh caught filet or steak, poached, skinned
1 large egg
salt and pepper — to taste
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons butter
Yogurt-Caper Sauce (follows)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Spray baking pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Coarsely grate the potato and onion and allow to drain in colander for 10 to 20 minutes. Squeeze out moisture and move to toweling; wrap snugly to absorb more moisture.
  3. In large bowl, beat the egg then slowly whisk in the flour. Season lightly with salt and pepper; add the potato-onion mixture. Break the salmon into chunks and lightly stir it in, do not over mix.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. When hot drop 1/4 cup scoops into pan and press lightly into 3″ cakes. Cook about 4 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp. Drain on toweling and keep warm in oven. Wipe any debris from pan, add more oil, and repeat until all are cooked. Serve with Yogurt-Caper Sauce. Makes about 10 potato pancakes.

For Yogurt-Caper Sauce: combine 1 cup or more plain yogurt with 1 Tbsp drained small capers and Tbsp minced green onion.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

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