On the strawberry patch: Reaching new heights with salmon cakes

An Alaska classic turned into Father’s Day tradition

Until I met my husband, I was a strictly indoor cat, and I hated getting my paws dirty. I was more interested in hiking through malls and dance clubs than I was in exploring the natural world, even here in Alaska. On one of our first dates, we went “hiking” in Hatcher Pass, and I wore skinny jeans and ballet flats and got rightly teased.

He used to captivate me with stories of his treks in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, in the jungles of Vietnam, and of his expedition to the top of Denali, and I asked him to show me that world.

In the years since, we have had our summit victories and sweaty, exhausted car rides home after all-day excursions in the mountains. It became an integral part of our life together, and we vowed to take our potential children along for our all adventures.

We took our boy up Skyline on Saturday and enjoyed it so much we decided to make it a Father’s Day weekend tradition. He climbed Skyline many, many times as a child, so the trail holds a special place in his heart, and I could sense the joy he felt from watching our son’s wide-eyed amazement at the expanse above the tree line.

Father’s Day weekend is also the time to clear out the last of last year’s salmon from the freezer, so I made salmon cakes for our family celebration. There are about a zillion different recipes for salmon cakes, and everyone has their own preference, but this is mine.


1 large salmon fillet — around 1 ½ pounds. (We had sockeye but pretty much any kind will do. Even canned salmon can work if you have nothing else.)

½ of a red bell pepper, finely chopped

½ of a red onion, finely chopped

⅓ cup shredded purple cabbage

½ cup finely chopped chives

¼ cup minced fresh dill

1 egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

Cornstarch as needed


Skin and debone your fillet. Scrape the skin thoroughly to get off as much meat as possible.

Portion off about 1/3 of the fillet, the tail portion, and set aside.

Roughly chop the meatier portion of the fillet into small pieces. You don’t want to go too fine here because you want some bigger chunks of flesh in the finished product, but nothing should be bigger than a ½ inch cube.

Take the tail portion and chop it very fine, then use your knife to scrape the flesh along the cutting board to create a paste. You can use a food processor to do this if you prefer, but it’s such a small amount that I find it’s not worth it.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The mixture should be able to hold together, but if it doesn’t, you can add cornstarch, just a dusting at a time, until the mixture will hold a shape.

Form the patties. For appetizer portions, make them about 3 ounces per patty. For dinner portions, it should be closer to 6 ounces per patty. Make sure the cakes are no more than 1-inch thick.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Fry on a nonstick pan in a little olive oil for 5-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

I served the cakes with a lemon yogurt sauce, white bean puree and salad.

I knew when I met him that my husband would make an amazing father. He is meticulous and enthusiastic and so, so kind.

Of all the adventures we have been on together, parenthood has been by far the most rewarding and satisfying, and just like all things he does, he excels at it.

Thank you, Quinn, for carrying our baby boy on your back to show him all the beautiful and exciting things that wait for him above the clouds. We love you, Papa!

Bell pepper, cabbage and onions add flavor and texture to this salmon cake recipe. (Photo by Tress Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Bell pepper, cabbage and onions add flavor and texture to this salmon cake recipe. (Photo by Tress Dale/Peninsula Clarion)