These cakes were inspired by the showy Russian dish called kulebiaka, a salmon fillet covered with a mushroom mixture, then wrapped in puff pastry.
But this version is streamlined and quick. It might not have as much wow factor, but the winning flavor combination is there in a dish good for any night of the week. I like to pair the cakes with a green vegetable and rice or orzo spiked with freshly grated lemon zest and chopped fresh dill.
Dilled Salmon and Mushroom Cakes
Makes 6 salmon cakes
1 1/2 tablespoons mild olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about 2 1/2 ounces)
4 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed, then cut into generous 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 3/4 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cut into 1-to-2-inch chunks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons whole or low-fat sour cream (do not use nonfat)
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a medium nonstick
Add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Increase the heat to medium-high; cook, stirring every minute or so, until the mushrooms start to brown. Stir in the white wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Transfer the mushroom-onion mixture to a clean plate to cool for 15 minutes. Wipe out the pan, which you'll use to cook the salmon cakes.
Pulse the salmon in a food processor, being careful not to reduce it beyond pea-size chunks. Transfer to a mixing bowl along with the mushroom-onion mixture, 2 tablespoons of the panko bread crumbs, the sour cream and the dill. Lightly season with salt and/or pepper. Mix gently to incorporate, then form into 6 balls of equal size.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs on a plate.
Working quickly, place a salmon ball at the center of the crumb plate. Gently flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick cake. Turn it over to evenly coat both sides with the crumbs. Transfer to the hot pan. Repeat until all of the cakes are formed and in the pan; discard any remaining crumbs.
Reduce the heat to medium; cook the cakes for about 4 minutes on the first side, until golden, then turn them over and cook for about 3 minutes, until the second side is lightly browned and the cake is cooked through.
Transfer the cakes to a platter or individual plates to rest for 5 minutes before serving.