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Monday, January 3, 2011

Leftovers by Design: Salmon Chowder, Cakes and Fritters (Gluten-Free)

Chinook salmon Mike caught out of the Willamette River last summer
Have I said this before? Well, I'll say it again: leftovers make it easy to put together a quick and tasty meal. Especially after preparing multiple elaborate holiday dinners, I'm usually ready to spend a little less time in the kitchen for a while at the same time I have a fridge bursting with bits of leftover this and that. With some creativity, those bits can become something altogether new and delicious in short order. In The Way to Cook, Julia Child called this notion of turning leftovers into something more than just ho-hum reheats, "Feasting on the Remains." It's all about attitude.

Last summer, members of our buying club bought shares of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon from Iliamna Seafood Company. Each share included 22 pounds of frozen fillets and the fillets are about two pounds each. My family can't eat that much salmon at one meal, so we've been having lots of salmon leftovers. Here are a few favorites.

Gluten-Free Salmon-Corn Chowder
Serves six

I make a big batch of breakfast potatoes once or twice a week and often use the leftover potatoes in chowders. If you have preserved lemons, chop up the peel from half of one and pass it at the table to garnish. If you do not have fish stock on hand, use vegetable stock, chicken stock or more milk.

1 pound red potatoes, diced or a couple cups leftover cooked potatoes
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sauce from jar of chipotles en adobo (or add chopped chipotle to taste)
1/2 cup of salsa
2 cups fish stock 
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
leftover cooked salmon fillet (preferably wild), skin discarded and fish cut into 1-inch pieces
(I augmented with some of my husband smoked salmon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil, then add potatoes and cook until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the bacon in a 6- or 8-quart pot until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and leave fat at least 2 tablespoons of fat in pan (I leave all the rendered fat in the pan). Saute onions in bacon fat until soft, then add garlic and cook for a minute. Add thyme, bay leaf, chipotle, salsa, fish stock, milk and cream, bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer. Add potatoes, corn, and salmon and cook until everything is thoroughly heated. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice and serve.

Gluten-Free Salmon Fritters
No potatoes on hand? How 'bout making fritters? Try this recipe for gluten-free corn-shrimp fritters from Cooking for Isaiah, substituting one cup of cooked salmon for the shrimp. If you use wheat flour, use that 1:1 in place of the gluten-free flour. 

Gluten-Free Salmon Cakes
Serves 4-6

I've been making fish cakes--with leftover crab, halibut, salmon, tilipia--for years. Crab cakes were a restaurant favorite of mine growing up in Maryland and at home today, I still usually make them Maryland style, which in essence means seasoned with Old Bay, a blend of herbs and spices that's predominantly mustard, paprika, and celery seed. This Thai-style recipe has a lighter, zestier flavor. In the winter, I serve these with a coleslaw of shredded cabbage and carrots tossed with Oregon pink shrimp and dressed with lime juice, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. In the summer, Cucumber and Wasabi Soup makes a perfect accompaniment.

3/4-1 pound cooked salmon
6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors or zest of one lime
3 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 green onions, sliced
1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
small handful cilantro
1 red chili, sliced OR 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili
1/4 cup or more almond flour 
coconut oil for frying
Break salmon into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, brown sugar, lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal or ginger, garlic, cilantro, chili, and almond flour. Pulse to create a thick paste.
Picking up a small amount in your hand (about the size of a golf ball) pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. If the paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little more flour to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent paste from sticking.
Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Fry several fish cakes at a time, about 2 minutes per side. Fry until golden-brown and drain on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan.


  1. Hey there, I just wanted to introduce myself. I check out your blog periodically, and for some reason I know you are a Portlander like me (actually I live about 40 minutes from downtown Portland). Anyway, we share many interests. Come and check out my site! www.mysuburbanhomestead.com

  2. Hi Amy--

    I have visited your blog many times! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello.