Salmon Leftovers. Uncooked salmon leftovers. Is there such a thing?

Suzen had an event at Cooking by the Book where the main course was grilled salmon. We ordered plenty of that pink jewel, more than we needed for the 30 people in the party. So the next day we had leftover, uncooked salmon.

“Salmon cakes?” I asked. Truth is, I haven’t had a salmon cake in 50 years and then it was made with canned salmon, lots of bread crumbs and was cooked by the grandmother. I’ve mentioned her before, so I don’t need to go into detail: overcooked and dry. Not even Tartar sauce could make it palatable.

“Yuk! Never,” came Suzen’s reply. “I’ve never had one. Sounds disgusting.”

“Well, yeah, they can be. But I thought that you could …”

“I’ll do something.” She said. A few minutes later came, “Get some string and I’ll need your finger.”

If she had cut herself, the tourniquet would be on her finger, and she hadn’t cut me yet. I was a bit blurry about what she had in mind.

This is an inspired recipe, something that popped into her mind. Suzen made salmon packets, blanketed by lemon slices tied around the fish, and then quickly grilled. The dish is astonishing flavorful. The cooked lemon is soft and sweet. Rather than brush the lemon slices aside, you want to cut through each one and have a bite of lemon and salmon together.

There are salmon lovers and salmon haters out there. The haters are those who have attended too many weddings and bar mitzvahs. You don’t have to convert religions here, but you can easily convert from hater to lover. Isn’t that better: all that omega stuff from the fish and less stress from no hate.

Don’t overcook! You can take a packet off, explore it for doneness, and return to the grill if needed. You can’t “unoverdone” something.

As for those salmon cakes, I haven’t forgotten. It’s just a matter of finding the right time and right method of begging Suzen. I don’t think a direct whine will work with her anymore. Something more personal, perhaps, like confessing after 26 years of marriage that I have a secret salmon addiction.

“Consider chicken,” would be her most likely response.


Suzi’s Salmon Packets

Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 5-ounce slabs of salmon, about 1 ½ inches thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons, sliced finely
  • Olive oil
  • String


Preheat your grill to medium high, about 400°F.

If necessary, lightly wash and dry the salmon with cold water. Salt and pepper each piece of salmon.

Cover the top and bottom of each salmon piece with thin slices of lemon. Request the services of your husband, friend, or a neighbor to tie the lemon to the salmon. It really is a three- or four-handed job. Lightly coat each packet with olive oil.

Grill the salmon for about 3 minutes on the side. Remove from the grill. Test for doneness.

Place each packet on a plate and snip the string. Carefully pull away the string so that the lemon slices remain on the bottom and top.

How to serve this for a meal? White rice made with a rich chicken stock and simple salad with soft Boston leaves. Although you can do red with salmon, there is a delicate flavor here that you do not want to over power. Think Vouvray, think sparkling Vouvray.


Source: Suzen O’Rourke