Do you have a show-stopping dish in your cooking bag of tricks?
You’ll know the recipe. People lean forward over their plates to inhale its aroma and turn their focus to their fork or spoon. A hush falls over the table. An eater’s brow becomes furrowed in concentrated curiosity, quiet little sighs or hums bubble up as a delicate soundtrack to the moment. Time becomes momentarily suspended.
All of a sudden, that focused calm breaks into cheery chatter and conviviality brighter than before. Life goes on with this one subtle experience tucked into it. And this is when you know.
That’s my signature recipe.
And this is why you cook.
Today’s signature recipe joins one I shared years ago– Winter-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cakes. Both are no-fail winners.
Credit for this recipe goes to our friend Larry Deck. He once served it as a late-night New Year’s Eve dinner and I was transfixed. The brightness of the homemade chutney and light curry notes in the salmon cakes was a sunny counterpoint to that dark winter night.
It highly likely that I let out a long, deep hhhmmmmmmmm that night.
Wine Pairing: Growers + Makers
Curried Salmon Cakes, Mango Chutney, and Coconut Rice is a heavenly match with any of King Estate’s Pinot Gris‘. I am especially fond of their Domaine Pinot Gris with its pear, tangerine and Meyer lemon peel aromas and flavors, clean minerality, and silky texture. My husband and I featured the Domaine Pinot Gris at our wedding day brunch.
Just like today’s recipe trio, this wine is full of happy memories.
The salmon cakes, chutney, and rice make an all-season dish, but I most often make it in late spring when the market is flush with fresh ripe mangoes and Copper River salmon are making their first run. The gingery coconut rice got added over the years and creates a truly perfect flavor and texture triad.
Good to note is that the mango chutney is fantastic with roasted pork and on a cheese platter, and the chartreuse-colored rice will make its way into your rotation apart from the salmon cake and chutney elements.
Any type of salmon you can access is just right for this dish. You’re really in luck if your fish market sells salmon trimmings by the bag at a discount, which are perfect since a filet gets chopped anyway. With all of the flavorful ingredients added, the subtleties among salmon varieties can be lost. Go with what you’ve got.
There is nothing technically challenging about producing this meal. I suggest, however, that you plan it on a long afternoon devoted to zenning out in your kitchen, or when you have a pal available to help with the chopping. All three meal components need quite a bit of chopping!
What is your show-stopping signature dish? If you yet don’t yet have one, what would you like it to be?
Curried Salmon Cakes + Mango Chutney + Coconut Rice
- 2 cups fresh mango, peeled and diced
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- ¼ cup fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup rice or coconut vinegar
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes or Piment d' Espelette
Curried Salmon Cakes
- 1¼ lbs. skinless salmon filet, cut into ⅓" pieces
- 2 Tbsp. minced Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup cilantro, stems and leaves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- ½ cup tart apple, peeled and diced
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. cayenne or Piment d' Espelette
- 1½ tsp. Madras curry powder
- 1 cup panko or gluten-free panko crumbs, divided (½ cup for the salmon mixture, the rest to coat the uncooked cakes)
- ½ – 1 tsp. salt to taste
- ¼ cup canola or olive oil, for cooking
- 1¼ cups Basmati rice
- 1 13.5 oz. can light coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp. fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced (optional)
- 1-2 tsp. fresh turmeric, peeled and minced (optional) OR Find this at an Indian or Asian grocer, and at places like Whole Foods in your area.
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric (the dried spice) If fresh turmeric isn't available where you live.
- 1 small serrano chili, seeded and minced (optional)
Start with the Mango Chutney
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in a non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat. The aroma will be vinegary-pungent at first, then will turn sweet and gingery. Turn the heat down and simmer until the liquid condenses and becomes thick and syrupy, stirring frequently, approximately 30-40 minutes.
- The chutney thickens as it cools, and keeps in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Makes 2½ cups.
Now the Curried Salmon Cakes
- Gently combine all ingredients EXCEPT ½ cup of the panko. Allow mixture to rest five minutes. (While you're waiting, now is a good time to start the rice!)
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup panko onto a plate or shallow dish. Scoop up ⅓ cup of the salmon mixture and form into 3" cakes. Carefully coat each cake in panko crumbs. Allow the cakes to rest another five minutes. (The resting steps help the panko absorb to hold the cakes together/stick to the cakes and make them much easier to handle.)
- Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just starting to shimmer. Place salmon cakes, a few at a time to avoid crowding, in the skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip cakes and cook without moving until the second side is golden brown, about another 3 minutes. (You should have eight cakes, or enough to serve four people.)
Make the Coconut Rice
- Over the sink, rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer with cold water, stirring the rice with your fingers until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a medium saucepan.
- Add the coconut milk, ginger, turmeric (fresh or dried), and serrano* to the saucepan (if using.) Bring to a full boil over high heat. cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep the lid on, and set the rice aside.
- Lay down a bed of rice in the center of each plate. Place two cakes on the rice. Top with generous spoonsful of warm mango chutney, and garnish with cilantro, if desired.