With a delicate flavor, rosy pink flesh and a texture similar to trout, pink salmon offers a blank canvas for sauces and other flavorings. Pink salmon is extremely lean, with soft meat and a small flake.
“We got pinks that I sauteed,” says Anita Lo, owner and executive chef of New York’s Annisa restaurant. While she doesn’t use them in the restaurant, Lo says pink salmon do well on the grill or in the pan, and offer an environmentally friendly dinner. “I’m interested in species that not everyone uses,” she says. “It’s a little more sustainable that way.”
As with keta, pink salmon benefits from fat and dairy to mellow it out. The roe also is used for sushi.
Recommended preparations: quiche; salmon burgers; sauteed
Often found: Shows up often in the frozen food section as salmon burgers; salmon salad sandwiches; as sushi (ikura).
Available: Year-round in cans, pouches and frozen; fresh mid-June through September.
Pink Salmon Cakes on Sourdough with Lemon-Herb Aioli
Start to finish: 40 minutes
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh savory
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
9 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 pound pink salmon, fresh or canned, chunked or chopped
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 thick slices toasted sourdough bread, to serve
To make the aioli, in a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, thyme, savory, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and the lemon zest and juice. While whisking, slowly add 8 tablespoons of the olive oil, a dribble at a time. The mixture should be smooth and thick. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if needed. Refrigerate.
In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots, garlic and capers and cook until the shallots are tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, then add the chunked salmon and breadcrumbs. Gently mix.
Gently form the mixture into 8 patties, each about 2 1/2 inches round. Place some flour in a shallow dish, then one at a time set the salmon patties in the flour, turning to lightly coat both sides.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the patties, working in batches if necessary, and sear on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Arrange the salmon cakes on the toasted sourdough slices, topping with cucumber slices and dollops of the aioli. Serve immediately.