For the crème fraîche
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (dill, chives, parsley, etc.)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
For the cakes
- 2 medium potatoes
- 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic rasped
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Make the crème fraîche: In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, herbs, salt, lemon zest and pepper to taste. Set aside at room temperature while assembling and cooking the cakes to let the flavors meld.
- If cooking cakes in the oven (see Additional Notes below), preheat oven to 450°F (233°C) and place a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet on the middle rack to preheat.
- Peel and chop the potatoes. In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with water and a big pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Drain.
- In a large bowl, mash the potatoes and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, add the salmon, mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice and thoroughly mix with a fork. Add pepper and a little more salt if needed. Form the mixture into 3-inch patties. (Cakes will be very soft at this point. You can either chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to firm them up, or proceed with the recipe, handling them carefully.)
- In a wide, shallow bowl, beat the egg. Put the panko in another wide, shallow bowl or plate. Dip a cake in the egg, then in the panko and set aside. Repeat with the remaining cakes.
- Pull skillet out of the oven. Coat the bottom with 2 tablespoons of oil. Place cakes in the skillet and bake for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the cakes are golden-brown and crisp. Serve with herb crème fraîche and lemon wedges, if desired.
- The cakes can also be cooked on the stove: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cakes, flipping halfway through, until brown and crisp on both sides.
- The herb crème fraîche can be made up to 24 hours before. The cakes can be formed and refrigerated up to 12 hours ahead. Dip them in egg and panko just before cooking.