I typically love leftovers but there’s one kind of leftover I dread: grilled fish. There’s something that happens to the fish oils when grilled fish is left to sit overnight in the fridge. It’s extremely tanh tanh – Vietnamese for fishy in a smelly way. Yes, that from someone who enjoys fermented seafood products. Whenever I plan on grilling fish, I try to buy the amount we’ll eat in one meal to avoid leftovers.
Last week, we ended up with 6 ounces of grilled sockeye salmon. Dinner included a pasta with basil pesto and we found ourselves gobbling up the carbs and not all of the protein. My husband looked at the salmon, which we got for a “steal” at $14.99 a pound, and said, “What are you going to do with that leftover fish?”
Usually I’d pack the fish for my husband’s lunch but school is out so we were eating lunch at home. Together. The answer came to me in the shape of a block of leftover tofu. My strategy was to mix the tofu in with the salmon to dampen some of the tanh tanh qualities. The tofu also extended the salmon.
We had some celery and green onion the vegetable crisper – perfect for injecting bright flavors. I used only the celery leaves because of its soft texture and bright color. A little cornstarch ensured the mixture would be sturdy. That’s it.
I shaped 6 cakes and coated them in panko and pan-fried them; if you're eating gluten-free, try GF panko or cornmeal. I tried dried coconut and it was a little funny but I've never been into that kind of tropical coating.
How'd they turn out? Fabulous. No fishy, tanh tanh flavor. A triumph. We had the cakes with a lightly dressed salad for a light summer lunch. Next time I have leftover grilled fish, I’ll have this in my back pocket.
Salmon Tofu Cakes
Yields: 6 cakes to serve 2 or 3
- 6 ounces (180 g) firm tofu
- 6 ounces (180 g) grilled salmon (weight without skin)
- 1 green onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery leaves
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup (90 ml) Japanese panko-bread crumbs
- Canola oil, for pan-frying
- Lime wedges
- Cut the tofu into chunks and set on several layers of paper towel or a dry dish towel to drain for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, use a fork to roughly break up the fish, removing any bones as you work. Set aside.
- In a food processor, finely chop the green onion, celery leaves , pepper, and salt. Add the tofu and cornstarch. Whirl to blend. Aim to not see any large chunks of tofu.
- Add the fish, pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl to finish mixing. Taste and adjust flavors as needed.
- Heat a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to film the bottom. Shape into 6 cakes, coating each one in panko, then sliding them onto the hot pan. Pan-fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until crisp and golden-brown. Cool on a rack for a few minutes before serving with lime wedges.
Related post: Stovetop Salmon Teriyaki (old school Japanese teriyaki doesn't require grilling)