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Salmon cakes with smoked paprika aioli

Salmon Cakes:

1 lb. fresh salmon, boneless, skinless (fish will be flaked so one piece or several is fine)
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup onion, finely diced
½ cup celery, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup fresh corn, cut off the cob
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups panko bread crumbs (or cracker or other dry bread crumbs)
salad oil

Smoked Paprika Aioli:

1 cup Mayonnaise
1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
3 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh chives, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare aioli: Mix all of the aioli ingredients together in a small glass bowl. Correct for seasonings and set aside until salmon cakes are cooked.

Prepare salmon cakes: place salmon onto a sheet pan covered with foil. Brush with a little salad oil, and then sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. Bake salmon in a preheated oven till done (a little rare is fine since it can finish cooking in the cakes). Allow salmon to cool briefly, and then use a fork to break it into large flakes. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the celery to the pan and gently cook until onions are translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute longer. Remove pan from heat and stir in the red bell pepper and the corn; set aside to cool.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Beat them with a fork until they are well blended, then stir in the cream. Mix with the fork until evenly blended. Add 2 cups of the fresh bread crumbs and stir gently with the fork until all are coated with the egg mixture. Let bread crumb mixture soak for a few minutes. The bread crumbs should be fully soaked with the egg mixture, but not so wet that there is liquid sitting in the bottom of the bowl. If the mixture seems dry add a little more cream; if it seems too wet, add some more of the bread crumbs. Add the salmon, vegetables, herbs and salt and pepper to taste to the bread mixture and gently fold them in. The mixture should hold together when lightly squeezed. Divide the mixture in two in the bottom of the bowl then divide each half into 6 mounds.

Pour panko (dry) bread crumbs into a large bowl. Take a mound of salmon mixture, place it into the bread crumbs and cover it well. Form it into a cake using both hands, covering it well with the bread crumbs. Set it on a sheet pan covered with foil and form remaining cakes. Allow cakes to sit for a few minutes- this helps them hold together better when they are cooked.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour enough oil into the pan to barely cover the bottom. Place six cakes into the pan and fry them in the oil for three or four minutes or until lightly browned. Gently turn them over and fry on the second side until lightly browned. Remove the cakes to a second sheet pan covered with foil and a layer of paper towels to remove excess oil. Fry the second set of salmon cakes, using more oil, if necessary. Remove foil from sheet pan and place all 12 salmon cakes into a preheated 400 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Place two hot salmon cakes each onto serving plates and ladle a generous spoonful or two of the aioli over the cakes Serve immediately. Makes first course servings for 6 or appetizers for 12.

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