Salmon croquettes are one of the more “modern” additions to the Appalachian soup bean supper menu. In the early to mid 20th century as imported groceries became more available in the isolated mountain communities, canned salmon was a treat for folks used to subsisting off the land. It wouldn’t have been an every-day dish, and mixing it with egg, breadcrumbs and vegetables allowed a single can to stretch to the whole family.
Traditionally a croquette would be more of a cylinder shape and deep fried. I chose to go with more of a salmon cake shape. The flatter patty allowed me to use a lot less oil and just fry on each side. I figured there was enough fat and oil in the rest of the meal that I should try to eliminate a little somewhere.
The “you don’t have to do this, but I always do” (or it’s inverse, “some people soak their beans but I never do”) step seems to be a common theme in most of the recipes I looked at for the various soup bean supper dishes. This time it was removing the skin and bones from the salmon. Apparently the canning process softens the bones enough that you can eat them. The little vertebra bones I picked out crumbled to fine pieces with very little pressure from my fingers, so I’m guessing they would disappear in the croquettes and add some calcium to your meal, but I think I’m not unusual in being a little skeezed out by the idea of eating bones.
The friends we shared this meal with all complimented me on how light the salmon cakes were, so I guess I’ve come up with a good recipe. I think the biggest secret is to remember that the bread crumbs will continue to soak up liquid, so don’t make your mix too dry to start with.
My recipe calls for breadcrumbs in the mix and panko breadcrumbs to bread the surface. I happened to have both fine bread crumbs and the coarser panko in the cupboard. You can certainly use the same product in both places, just make sure they are dry crumbs not fresh. If you are buying breadcrumbs, consider what other uses you might have for them. I personally think panko is better for breading items that will be fried, but if you’re mostly going to be using them as a filler in something like meatloaf or topping on something baked fine ones work better, but they are pretty interchangeable. Better yet, make your own bread crumbs by drying out extra bread and grinding it in a food processor (Pro tip- if you have a shredding/ grating disk for you food processor, and your bread is really dry, it works much faster than trying to break it up with the chopping blade).
I also whipped up a quick tartar sauce for the salmon cakes.
Yield: 12-14 ¼ cup cakes.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
1 14.5 oz. can pink salmon
2 large eggs, beaten
⅔ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup mayonnaise
⅔ cup onion, diced
¼ red bell pepper, diced
1 ¾ Tablespoons parsley, minced
5 Tablespoons green onion, chopped
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Tartar sauce (see below)
¼ cup flour
½ green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons worcestershire
¼ cup cilantro, minced
1 ½ Tablespoons chives, minced
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 ⅞ teaspoons seasoned salt
¾ cup yellow cornmeal, in place of panko
20 oz fresh salmon, cooked, in place of canned
Drain salmon, reserving juice. Squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Remove skin and large bones, and flake the salmon.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs. Add salmon, seasonings, lemon juice, olive oil, mayonnaise, and vegetables. Mix thoroughly. Add breadcrumbs and mix until well combined. If mixture is too dry, add a splash of the reserved salmon liquid. If too wet, add additional breadcrumbs.
Place panko in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gently form salmon mixture into croquettes, using ¼-1/3 cup per patty. Roll in seasoned panko and place on a plate. When all croquettes are formed, place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Fry croquettes in batches, for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Add additional oil as needed. Serve with tartar sauce.
Yield: ¾ cup
Prep: 5 minutes
5 ½ Tablespoons mayonnaise
4 ¾ teaspoons lemon juice
4 ½ teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
1 ¾ Tablespoons parsley, minced
1 ¾ teaspoons capers, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¾ Tablespoon ketchup
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
2 Tablespoons sweet onion, minced
½ teaspoon hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.