Wednesday, March 23, 2011

... fried fish deliciousness

So, I'm back from vacation - and this one is a special one at our house during Lent.

Salmon croquettes, patties, cakes, whatever the heck you want to call them - they are fried and tasty!  My grandma taught me how to make them, and in our house this is a Lenten tradition.  Typically, we pair these with fried potatoes or homemade mac & cheese.  Since I'm fairly sure most people don't cook for ten on a regular basis, we'll go with dinner for... hmm... four? 

What you need:
  • 2 cans of salmon (YES, I said CANS!  If you can't handle the skin and bones that need to be removed, then use 1 large packet - but know that you will have to add extra liquid since the packet style is dry.)
  • A can opener (unless you use the packet - in which case you may need some upper body strength)
  • A sleeve of crackers (I use saltines, but have made these with Ritz and breadcrumbs, your choice!)
  • A rolling pin, or other item that can be used for bashing
  • A sandwich bag
  • An egg, or two, or three (this is all going to depend on the salmon:cracker ratio)
  • Some shortening or oil for frying - your choice, but I don't suggest using anything that would add flavor, and you'll want to go with something that has a pretty high smoke point... so vegetable, canola, peanut...
  • A bowl (or two) to mix in (you will want a second bowl if you use canned salmon)
  • Some salt
  • Some kind of frying pan
  • A dish towel
  • An ice cream scoop - this is optional
  • One flipping spatula, and one scraping spatula
You might need this stuff for the tricks at the end!
  1. Paper towels
  2. Cooling rack
  3. Some foil
  4. Jelly roll baking sheet/bar pan
  5. Oven-safe plate/platter
  6. An oven
  7. Hot pads/oven mitts

So, I'm just going to warn you, this is messy!  Please keep your soap and water handy - and if you have a faucet that twists instead of one of those nice up and down thingies - teach a cat, dog, infant, or significant other to turn it on for you - or practice hiking your leg up and turning the water on with your toes.  Alrighty then!

Let's do this!
  1. Open the can of salmon using that can opener, drain the liquid, and dump the fishy contents into a bowl.  (Remember, I said if you're using a can, TWO bowls!)  If you're using a packet, same thing, except use your sweet muscles to rip it open - no draining necessary, and you can skip a bowl, and the next step.
  2. Pick the salmon off of the bones and remove the skin.  When you are removing the bones, if you can get the spine in one piece, this task is much easier.  (Perhaps I will make a video the next time I do this!)(If a few tiny bones are left, its okay, because you're going to mix this up, and the super small bones are safe, assuming the people you are feeding have teeth and use them for chewing!  Also, no one will know, because the crunchy fried outside will disguise any crunch from a small bone.  Furthermore, I have used a packet and found a bone, so even the machines can't get them all!)  
  3. Put the meaty fish bits in your other bowl, or meet us here if you're a packet user.
  4. Put some crackers into the sandwich bag, seal the bag, removing the air.
  5. Place the bag of crackers on top of your dish towel (use a thick one, or fold it more than once) and beat the Hell out of the cracker bag using your bashing tool!  (This is a great stress reliever!)
  6. Pour the powdery remnants of cracker into the bowl of meaty fish bits, & add a little salt (take it easy!  the crackers already had salt, the fish had some salt for preserving, just a couple of pinches!)
  7. Add egg(s) one at a time, and mush it up with your hands - like meatloaf, or burgers!  You may have to repeat the cracker bashing to get to the right consistency - its a guessing game.  When it is ready, it will look like this: 
  8. Wash your nasty hands!
  9. Heat your pan with frying oil/shortening on Medium/Medium-Low heat.  (My grandma always used a fry daddy, so if you have a fryer - feel free to use it! Also, please don't be hasty in heating the oil, I don't want anyone to start a fire, sustain burns, or have food that isn't cooked properly!)
  10. If you are using a frying pan - when your oil is ready, you will see tiny ripples start to form.  At this point, use the ice cream scoop (or your hands) to form a fish ball.  Gently place the ball into the hot oil. (If you are using a deep fryer, go ahead and pat them out)
  11. As the fish wads cook, use the scraping spatula to gently flatten the balls into frisbees.
  12. When it is time to turn the cakes over, you will want to be double fisted with spatulas.  These suckers can be pretty delicate!  I use the flipping spatula in my favored hand (I'm a righty) and the scraping spatula in other.  If you're ambi - do whatever feels right!  Using the flipping spatula, gently begin to tilt the croquette on its edge - then catch the patty with the scraping spatula, and gently place it back down in the hot oil. Turning your cakes this way will help keep them in one piece, and it reduces the risk of being burned!  Please be careful when you fry stuff!  It is tasty, but it can be dangerous!
  13. When your cakes have a crispy fried crust on both sides, they are done!  Enjoy! (And give the following tricks a try too!)
    1. Let your patties rest on top of some paper towels for a couple of minutes, then move to your oven-safe dish.  Move them to the oven on the lowest setting to keep them warm if you have to wait on your diners or side dishes. (Use hot pads to remove the dish from the oven, please!)
    2. Line a jelly roll pan/bar pan a layer of foil, topped with paper towels, place a wire cooling rack in the pan, and put the cakes on the cooling rack after removing from the hot oil.  Excess oil will drip into the pan, and remain contained by the foil and towels.
    3. Bonus!  (Step 2 - paper towels) + [Step 1 - (paper towels + oven-safe dish)] = Warm, drained cakes with mess contained

Well, happy cooking, as usual!  I'll post to phoodos - and looking forward to your feedback, phoodos, and sausage links!


  1. Have I ever mentioned that your instructions KILL me? Hilarious.

  2. Lol! I try to make it exciting so other people might want to cook this stuff. Lol! I don't think there is a place for my ridiculousness on the Food Network anytime.. perhaps I should do a couple of these as videos and pitch it to Comedy Central!