Recipe: Smoky Salmon Burgers – Not My Momma’s Salmon Patties

Dear Martha:

I don’t imagine you have ever done this, but every once in a while, Mr. H. and I will have a “what vile food were you made to eat as a child” discussion.  Mr. H. always wins with his Mom’s insistence that they eat tongue on a fairly regular basis (yes, the same woman I lauded as a fantastic cook), but I come in a close second with my description of Mom’s Salmon Patties.

Like most 1950s cooks, Mom sourced many of her recipes from the labels on cans or from one of the many women’s magazines of the time.   Her rendition of Salmon Patties (she called them Croquettes, bless her heart) was sourced from Better Homes and Gardens.

I don’t know how she did it, but I remember our salmon cakes exactly as pictured….sepia toned.

Here’s the problem.  Mom didn’t remove the bones.  She said they were healthy (and I guess they WERE filled with calcium).  To add insult to injury, Dad was complicit in this non-de-boning strategy.   He got a kick out of telling us that we were eating fish bones.    Now, before you get frantic, you need to know that the bones were small (like a piece of corn) and quite rubbery (were they cartilage?).  I’ve heard that they really aren’t bad for you and they really are full of calcium.

But I can guarantee that children do NOT like to eat fish bones.  Even for the story value.  Especially for the story value.  Fishy Tapioca.

Mom did serve our Salmon Patties with pineapple and cottage cheese, but not the grilled pineapple  called for in the recipe.  She would cut up the pineapple and stir it in the cottage cheese.   We liked it, so that was a highlight (she served this particular side dish all of her life).   Mom also served her Salmon Croquettes with mounds of green peas.   I think she hit on brilliant strategy to have us love peas.  Compared to salmon bones, the green peas were a delight.

Oh, I’ll bet you are wondering what this has to do with you?   Well, in your June issue of Martha Stewart Living, you featured a Salmon Burger that reminded me of Mom’s Salmon “Croquette”.

Your recipe is primarily salmon.   Not salmon messed up with onion, ginger, soy, pepper or any other ingredient meant to “enhance” the experience.  Your burgers are all salmon …. all the time….

I was intrigued.

So, one night last week I made your Salmon Burgers and … we LOVED them. Brad (second to youngest son who lives in another state)  was visiting and loves salmon, so this was a perfect time to try this recipe.

I am thrilled that I completed yet another project from the June issue and equally thrilled that we have a new, tasty and really easy recipe for summer nights.  We used frozen salmon fillets (from Costco) that we had thawed, and we seem to always have smoked salmon and several types of mustard (I’m not entirely sure why…).   I grow dill in my herb garden, so we had all the ingredients we needed (although I am sure dried dill would be good as well).

I must admit that I used more smoked salmon than you had called for (4 oz vs 2 1/2 oz).  We had 4 oz portions and I didn’t want to have any left over in the fridge.

Guess what….no bones!!

Here is a pdf file with the recipe Smoky Salmon Burgers

Recipe: Smoky Salmon Burgers


1 lb. skinless salmon fillets, cut into large chunks and chilled

4 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon

1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill

1/4 cup grainy mustard

1 bunch watercress (or cress)

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 whole wheat hamburger buns


Finely chop the smoked salmon.  (Don’t even think you can sneak in a bagel and cream cheese….resist)

Finely chop the fresh dill.  Chopping Dill makes me think of my Grandma S. (she did NOT smell like dill, but she DID can tons (or is it pecks) of pickles?

Pulse salmon chunks in a food processor until chopped but not smooth.  (Mixture should be able to hold together to form a patty).

By the way, if flamingoes are pink because of the shrimp they eat, why aren’t bears pink?

Transfer to a bowl and stir in smoked salmon and dill.  Divide mixture into 4 equal pieces and shape into patties about 3/4 inch thick.

See the flecks of dill? That just makes me happy.

Toast buns, cut sides down and transfer to platter.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.   Add oil to skillet.  Cook patties until golden brown and almost cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

Spread mustard onto each bun half and add watercress.


So, thank you Martha. I think we are going to have these again tonight!!

(I think these would look better with green peas….but that’s just me….)


Category: Main Dish
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(1) Comment and (1) Reply

  1. forwardfoodie | June 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Reply

    These look like THE best salmon burgers I have ever seen. Amazing… and great photos!

    • Jill H | June 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply

      Thanks!! You are right, they are good, and NO BONES!!!

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