Monday, April 12, 2010

Food: Recipes for Survival #4 - They're Not Crabcakes

My dentist did a royal number on me... I'd swear he was trying to kill me if I didn't know that my teeth were trying to do it first.  NEVER get your kids three sets of braces... by the time they're 40 the enamel is going to be shot anyway apparently from the cement they fix them on there with.  I'm having a bridge installed to replace a missing tooth that was originally a mistake another dentist made over ten years ago.  I won't tell you how much money we're dropping on this little venture, but think very nice used car and you might be close.  He has me on the good drugs and it's a little strange... weird things taste sweet, and while my eyelids refuse to stay up, my brain is still running as normal, so I'm mostly stuck listening to music or audio books.

My focus is a little fuzzy too, so while I'd like to provide a meat-free alternative this week, I just couldn't come up with one.  Falafel perhaps?  I don't have a tried and true recipe for that though, so we'll just have to muddle through.

This recipe is another family favorite.  My daughter would live on these if she could.  My grandmother used to make these all the time with canned salmon, a holdover from her days living in Alaska, I think, but they are just as good with tuna.

Fish Patties with creamed peas

2 - 15oz cans Pink Salmon or 4 - 8oz cans of tuna, water-packed, drained well
3/4 - 1 Cup crushed saltine crackers
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 whole eggs or equivalent egg substitute
2-4 Tbs milk
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

Place crackers, egg, mayonnaise, and Old Bay seasoning into a medium bowl and mix well.  Add enough milk or additional crushed crackers to make a mixture that's about the consistency of raw meatloaf, if needed.  Add the parsley flakes and tuna or salmon.  Mix thoroughly and set aside to let the crackers soak up some moisture.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, start the creamed peas:

2 Tbs butter or margarine
2 Tbs flour
1 C Milk
1/2 C frozen peas (NOT canned.  They're too mushy to hold up to the stirring)

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat.  It should barely foam, and definitely should not start browning at all.  When the butter is melted, add the flour, creating a paste that's called a roux.  Turn up the heat to medium-high, stirring constantly until the mixture has bubbled at the bottom of the pan for a minute or so.  If it takes on a little color at this point, that's okay.  You want it to look kind of foamy.  Add the milk all at once, still stirring continuously, and turn the heat up to high.  When the milk has thickened properly, it will look like a thick gravy in consistency.  Let it bubble and thicken for one minute, stirring constantly.   Reduce the heat to low and add the peas, still in their frozen state, barely stirring them in.  They're fully cooked already, and will absorb the warmth from the white sauce while you're making the patties.

Time to make the patties.  Divide the fish mixture into even patties about the size of your palm, less than a half-inch thick.  Fry them in the non-stick pan with a little butter or oil until they are firm to the touch and browned well on both sides.  Do NOT flip them too often or they will fall apart.  The milk in the mixture will make them brown quickly, so test done-ness by poking them gently with your finger in the middle.  They should feel just as firm as the pad of your thumb.  If they get too dark too fast, turn your heat down a little bit, but make sure they are cooked until firm.

Taste your creamed peas and add salt and pepper to taste at this point.  Serve by placing one or two patties on the plate and cover with the creamed peas.

*End of recipe*

When making the white sauce, it's important to keep stirring.  It will stick to the bottom like nobody's business.  You can also add some shallots or green onion, but I don't like to complicate it too much.  I usually serve this with an orange or red veggie, such as cooked carrots or red bell-pepper strips or tomato wedges with a little italian dressing.  Bread or rice on the side is also good, mostly for soaking up the rest of the sauce.

While this sounds complicated, you'll find that once you have the cooking principles behind this down pat, you can get this from can or freezer to plate in less than 20 minutes.  Just make sure the patties are reasonably thin, so that the raw egg in the middle gets cooked in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm doing this from memory, and as I've stated I'm a little off my game right now.  If you try this recipe and it goes kerflop, please let me know. 


  1. Fish patties are called salmon croquettes in my house. :) Same difference, same recipe. Alexis LOVES them too. I mean she'd eat them everyday if you made them. We had them for dinner Sunday where I ate half of one and she ate the other with rice and corn after our other meal it was dessert.

  2. Gramma used to call them "Salmon Patties" when I was growing up, but I figure if I'm making them out of tuna, the name no longer applies.

    I wonder why our kids love them so much? I don't recall being that fond of them when I was younger.