These are good hot as a meal, as well as at room temperature for a portable snack; they’re even good cold, straight from the fridge.
Food Editor’s Note: My friend Laurel is a prolific and creative chef. She is half Swedish, half German, and cooks across the spectrum of international cuisines, including Jewish specialties. This is her original recipe for baked salmon balls. They have a unique, wonderful flavor unlike anything I had tasted before, probably because I had never cooked with chervil before trying this recipe. The fish balls, or croquettes, depending on the shape you choose to make, are light, lemony, and packed with good ingredients. (I actually made a mistake with this recipe the first time and used roasted red peppers instead of roasted yellow tomatoes, and the results were just as yummy.) They are perfect for Shavuot, or a lunch or light dinner any day of the year.
2 pounds boneless, skinless salmon
4 ounces roasted yellow tomatoes or sun-dried yellow tomatoes packed in olive oil
1 medium onion
1 cup fresh mushrooms, stems or coarse chopped whole
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon (heaping) dried chervil
1 1/2-2 cups challah crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Tear day-old challah into 1-inch square pieces and process until you have two cups of large crumbs. (You can freeze leftover crumbs for a future use.)
Cut the salmon into 1-inch chunks. Microplane or finely chop the lemon zest. Cut the remaining lemon into 8 long wedges, cut the pulp out and remove the seeds. Cut the onion into 1-inch chunks. If you prefer to use a food grinder rather than a food processor, cut these ingredients into long thin strips or wedges instead of chunks.
Process the lemon zest and pulp, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggs until finely chopped, or send through a fine grinder. Place in a large bowl. Process or grind the salmon for a hamburger-like texture. Add to bowl and mix well. Add the salt, pepper, and chervil to one cup of the bread crumbs and mix well.
Add the crumbs half a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add up to 2 cups of the crumbs and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes (just like for matzo balls). The mixture will be loose.
Portion the balls as desired onto a sheet of plastic wrap. For balls, use a 1 3/4-inch scoop, a coffee scoop, or a 2-ounce medicine dosage cup. Roll the balls gently and place onto a non-stick or oil-sprayed cookie sheet in rows barely touching each other. As with matzo balls, handle the mixture as little as possible - do not over-roll or the texture will be too dense. For croquettes, measure by 1/4 to 1/3 cups and shape into oval patties.
Bake until the balls or croquettes are firm to the touch and just barely golden on top. Do not overbake! [Food editor’s note: I make croquettes and cook them for 20 minutes; try 15 minutes for the balls.]
This recipe makes about 15 croquettes or about 5 dozen balls.
Laurel Andersson Miller is a creative cook who lives in Newton and is contemplating entering the business world with one of several great food ideas she has been mulling over. Stay tuned!