Smoked Salmon Fishcakes – Approaching Perfection?

The philosophers amongst us may start to waffle on about the unattainability of perfection. They may rub their chins (in a sage-like fashion) and let us know that it is what is removed and what is tolerated that brings us close to attaining this Nirvana. Yet, when I decided to wrap a simple fish cake in smoked salmon, I came as they say, pretty damn close.

When I was younger, I did a lot of fishing. There is something wonderful about standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic and anticipating a catch. The time spent anticipating gave plenty of opportunity for philosophical thought too. It also gave time to pick and chew a bit of samphire. It is a salty plant that grows in some abundance on Ireland’s West coast.

It’s an unusual ingredient. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting it, it’s like eating a little bit of the sea (without all those pieces of plastic). It added a lovely fresh, philosophical note to the dish.

This is one of my prettiest ingredients shot. The tomatoes are for colour only.


  • 200 gms fresh salmon
  • 200 gms cod
  • A few slices of smoked salmon
  • A handful of samphire
  • A small amount of chopped chives
  • A half teaspoon of black pepper
  • A half teaspoon of dried seaweed
  • An egg
  • A handful of breadcrumbs

You will need a pastry ring or the patience of Job to form the cakes. I recommend the pastry ring.

As with so many of my recipes, this is pretty straightforward. Firstly, sharpen a good knife and skin the fish.

Salmon is good for you. Great salmon is great for you.

Side note on salmon: There is plenty of poor quality farmed Atlantic salmon available. To avoid it, I buy organic. We are lucky in Ireland as we have some great organic salmon producers. For these cakes, I also chose the tail. It gets more exercise than other parts of the fish and is tastier as a result.

Slice the raw fish into small pieces. Do likewise with the samphire and chives.

Lovely ingredients make for great fishcakes.

Place the fish, breadcrumbs, samphire, chives, seaweed and pepper in a bowl. Break in the egg. Stir to combine.

A lucky shot of the egg pouring looks pretty good, I think.

Line the pastry cutter with smoked salmon, allowing for overlap. Fill the parcel, overlap and turn it over before removing the ring.

Note that I don’t use any added salt. There’s plenty in the smoked salmon, samphire and seaweed.

Repeat the process until you run out of smoked salmon or filling.

Perfect parcels. You really do need the pastry ring.

Place the parcels in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 20 minutes. Let them rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

A nice crisp white and a salad were perfect with this.

The flavours brought me right back to the times in my youth, with ozone in the air and sea salt on my lips, fishing on the rocky Galway shore. I need to get the rods out of the attic. They were truly perfect days.

The parcels look great, they taste better and I do think that they move us just one step closer to perfection.

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Latest comments
  • Very impressive Conor, love the combo of salmon and cod. Looks so light and fresh!

  • We don’t have samphire this far north in Australia, but we do have a seaside succulent called Pig Face. Both the leaves (salty/savoury) and the fruit (salty/sweet) are edible, and it might be worth trying the leaves instead of samphire. One question, though: do the elegant parcels hold together well in the oven? I’d imagined you leaving the pastry ring on till I saw the photo…

  • Salmon Nirvana it is indeed. Sounds wonderful with all the ingredients being ones we like. We also have samphire (glasört in Swedish) in the Nordic coastline of Western Sweden. I must check with our fishmonger and see if it has any glasört as I really must try this one.

  • Just perfect! I love the combination of cooked and smoked salmon. One of my favorite spreads combines the two. But this is sensational, especially in its presentation. A+

  • Amazing presentation!!!! loved everything about this recipe, particularly its philosophical stance!

  • They look beautiful and I bet they taste delicious!

  • Looks Delicious, Will definitely be trying this

  • Fancy!

  • When I kind’of grew up I knew never to strive for perfection: how desperately boring to have nowhere to go but downwards ! What a delicious but easy recipe to copy . . . I love samphire but can only access it sometimes as it grows on the southern coasts. . . . thank you tho’ to Kate as never realized pig’s face, which I know well, was edible . . . . . .

  • How easy Conor? I’m going to a “Mammies” dinner on Friday night and volunteered to do a starter. Thinking this would fit the bill perfectly. But I really do need easy! Do you think I should try it?

  • omg! this looks so tasty, will give it a try. Thank you for sharing.

  • Think you have solved my “what should we have as a starter for the big Christmas Dinner” problem!
    One of your fishcakes for each person with a wee bit of salad on the side would hit the spot nicely. Can you give an indication as to how many fishcakes are made from the quantities of ingredients you give? Would be really helpful.

  • Can I have these for lunch please? These look amazing and this recipe is now pinned. Fabulous.

  • Wow, Conor. I wasn’t a fan of cooked smoked salmon before but that could convert me. Plus you made me learn something today with your comment about the tail. I’ll think about forgiving you for that tomorrow.

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