Salmon Chanted Evening

Last year, my friend Adam at Unorthodox Epicure and I had a recipe Throwdown over one of our childhood favorite meals—Porcupine Balls.  Of course, when it comes to reliving our childhood favorites, we were both winners.  Since there was no judging, neither of us could have rightly lost, after all.

A while back, we were talking about some of our other childhood faves, and the subject of Salmon Patties came up.  We decided to do it all again, and share both of our recipes with you.

As I have written about so many times, my Granny was a tremendous influence in my life in general, and especially in how my interest in cooking began.  Until the last few years of her life, 98% of my memories of her took place in the kitchen. Her kitchen. My kitchen. The kitchen at the Catholic school I attended. The kitchen at the Convent attached to that same school. The kitchen at her church.  The kitchen at her friends’ homes.

She was always cooking. For her family, friends, neighbors, and for complete strangers. If you were sick, she cooked for you. If you got a good report card, she cooked for you. If it was your birthday, anniversary, or just Tuesday, she cooked for you.  If she wasn’t busy cooking actual meals, she was busy making her own homemade yogurt, and her homemade yogurt popsicles for us grandkids to snack on.

As any self-respecting Southern woman would do, she prepared after school snacks such as homemade mac and cheese or fried chicken livers for us.

But she also was very ahead of her time in regards to organic and other health foods.  We would venture not only to the grocery store once a week, but also to the Vitamin and Health Food store a few doors down.  I would get a strawberry-banana smoothie, sweetened with honey, and some good fruit leather.  She would by all of our daily vitamins—there were enough to choke a horse—and also carob candy treats to feed us in lieu of chocolate.  I still remember them very vividly tasting pretty much exactly like a Tootise Roll.  And yogurt covered raisins, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower seed meal, and all sorts of similarly bizarre ingredients.

In the afternoon, I would make mud pies out of mud and rocks and sticks, and place globs of them on the bricks lining the driveway.  After rising from my nap, I would find that they had magically turned into sunflower seed and raisin cookies…Salty, sweet, nutty…I have never been able to replicate them, and can’t find a recipe that even comes close.

And each one of us had our own favorite meal that she would prepare when it was our “special day”.

My sister loved her mac and cheese, and always with canned beets. Have I mentioned lately how much I despise beets?

Other faves were Chicken A La King, Chicken and Dumplings (the fluffy kind), Vegetable Beef Soup (the universal favorite in our family), and Creamed Potatoes (always served with ham).  My dad’s favorite was Chop Chop—which was pork chops, browned in a pot, and covered with canned chow mein vegetables, French cut green beans, and soy sauce.  I am sure the recipe came off of a package of La Choy something or other in the 1960’s, but MAN, was it good.

But me?  My favorite was her Salmon Patties.  And I guess I can’t really say they were 100 percent HER Salmon Patties, because they were loosely based on a Heloise column from the 1960’s.   Tragically, we did not know this, and her recipe went missing for a number of years after she (my Granny) died.  In fact, her entire recipe tin was unaccounted for—and it was the thing that most of wanted to find most desperately. It was beige plastic, with a sort of smokey clear plastic top.  And it had come from the Autumn Harvest line of dishes that she had used for years.

I tried many recipes for Salmon Patties over the years, and loved many of them.  From a strictly culinary standpoint, many of them were probably “better” than my Granny’s.  But they were never the same. They could have contained 24k gold flakes and been dressed with the most expensive caviar money can buy, but they were worthless to someone trying to relive a fond memory. Also worth mentioning, my grandpa “Papa”, had a voice like an angel.  Sometimes when Granny was cooking salmon patties, he would sing “Some Enchanted Evening”, substituting in the words “Salmon Chanted Evening”. He was a card!

When my grandfather passed away a few years after her, their home had to finally be emptied.  Very sad times, but also lots of good memories popping up around every corner, on every shelf, behind every book.  But the recipe tin in question was not to be found.

After most of the family had been through, claiming the things that meant the most to them, I finally mustered up the guts to go walk through myself.  Of course, I went straight to the kitchen, and took the most highly treasured items in the house—at least from my perspective.  An old, giant, well-worn aluminum bowl, which had, on countless Thanksgivings contained enough cornbread stuffing to sink a battleship.  The two yellowed plastic mixing spoons, one with chips out of the bottom of it, which had stirred innumerable pots of soup.  And the old 2 oz Tupperware containers that always held our daily vitamins.  I filled that aluminum bowl with all sorts of trinkets from the kitchen that I wouldn’t sell for all the money in the world.

I went for one last pass through the kitchen.  Got down on my hands and knees to look through the bottom cabinets that had been emptied a few days earlier—the contents of which were sitting around in boxes and on countertops.  Just had to be sure nothing of hers would wind up in the hands of someone who wouldn’t appreciate it, and would, most likely, throw it away.  As I looked in one of the empty cabinets, I started to close the door, when I noticed a small bit of paper sticking out from the side that was obscured by the front wall of the cabinet.  I reached in, and pulled out….THE BOX!!  The recipe box that everyone had wanted to find.  I opened it, and started leafing through it.  The recipes that we had wanted so much to find were there. Her lemonade cake recipe, hand scrawled on a faded and yellowed index card.  And her Salmon Patties.

I made them as soon as I could, but was horrified to discover this was not her recipe. They were good. But they weren’t hers. So I spent some time experimenting until I came up with a recipe that is very close to Granny’s.

Here, for you to live one of my favorite childhood moments, is the Salmon Patty I grew up on. I hope you enjoy it. And for the record—peas. You serve them with peas. And ketchup.

You’re welcome!

Note: almost all recipes for salmon patties call for canned salmon. I use fresh, because those weirdly soft little vertebral bones in the can creep me out. You can eat them if you wish.

Crispy, Fluffy, and Light As Air.....Salmon Patties

Crispy, Fluffy, and Light As Air…..Salmon Patties

Mostly Like Granny’s Salmon Patties

  • 16 ounces fresh salmon, cooked ( or 1 14 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion or green onion ( my fave)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Oil, for cooking

Into a large bowl, fake fish. Toss with onions, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle flour over the top, and mix until combined with a fork.  Mix in the beaten eggs. Whisk baking soda into buttermilk. Stir into salmon mixture.

Pour oil to 1/4″ depth in a heavy skillet. Over medium high heat until a drop of flour sizzles vigorously.  Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie dough scoop, or a tablespoon, drop uniform sizes of batter into hot oil. Flatten slightly with back of spoon. Cook until brown on the bottom, then flip over and cook the other side until brown–about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Salmon Patties, with the requisite peas, and ketchup.

Salmon Patties, with the requisite peas, and ketchup.

Now, I did mention this was a Throwdown, right?  If you haven’t met Adam, you’ll have to follow me over to check out his recipe now. I love Adam, because he’s super smart, and has that wry sense of humor that other smart people really appreciate. Yes, in this scenario, I am claiming to be smart! So let’s go see what he’s up to, shall we?

CLICK HERE===>>>Adam’s Salmon Patties–Unorthodox Epicure<<<===CLICK HERE

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Categories: children, Family, Food, humor, recipes, Texas, writing

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52 Comments on “Salmon Chanted Evening”

  1. 2013/04/04 at 6:07 am #

    the link to Adam didn’t work for me 😦

    • 2013/04/04 at 8:31 am #

      Give it another shot. I think his post was a few minutes later than mine going live, and since you clicked on it so quickly after mine posted, I think it just wasn’t live yet.

      • 2013/04/04 at 9:25 am #

        Yes, I got it this time, thanks! Mmmm!

  2. juanitascocina
    2013/04/04 at 6:53 am #

    It’s so hard. I have a feeling I’ll just have to visit both of your houses to really get a good grip on who has won.

    • 2013/04/04 at 8:32 am #

      Excellent idea! Or a foodie vacation weekend this summer where we can all Throwdown all weekend!

      • juanitascocina
        2013/04/04 at 2:31 pm #

        I’m like…yeah. How much booze do you think we could go through in one weekend?

      • 2013/04/04 at 3:10 pm #

        A lot. Just a lot. A boozy, food wasted weekend.

  3. barbbaran
    2013/04/04 at 6:55 am #

    What a wonderful story. So glad that you found the tin! It truly is priceless.

  4. 2013/04/04 at 7:53 am #

    These are almost exactly like my grandmother’s patties… only there would never have been fresh salmon…. she was a canned foods girl :). The only thing this is missing to make it complete is some pepper cream gravy on top. Yes, I’m a Southern trashy foods guy. 🙂

  5. 2013/04/04 at 8:08 am #

    Instead of flour in the salmon patties, we use crushed up crackers for the binder. Makes for a great texture. Also, the bones make add some interesting texture to the patties :-). They are required in our family.

    • 2013/04/04 at 8:39 am #

      Yes, I do like them with crackers too. I make tuna patties that way. And the bones….they are very good for you. They add a healthy dose of calcium. I just can’t get past the texture.

  6. 2013/04/04 at 9:30 am #

    First of all … When in the hell did Helouise expire?!? For crying out loud! This is the worst news I’ve heard since the insurance adjuster called with some b.s. about how they were only going to pay so much for my floor. — Ah.. Your salmon patties look divine. And I just love how people are dead-set on their (widely varying) sides.

    By the way, a summer throw-down would be fun. In person with the whole gang of outlaws.
    🙂

    • 2013/04/04 at 9:33 am #

      Heloise is still alive and kicking….it was my Granny that died..

      • 2013/04/04 at 9:47 am #

        Oh. I suppose I should refrain from hitting the sauce so early. But.. Whew!

  7. 2013/04/04 at 9:34 am #

    What a wonderful story. It’s a shame, but it seems like so many recipes get lost when somebody passes. Usually, they are never written down. Glad you recovered hers.Going by the recipe alone (since we can’t taste these), I’d probably vote for yours. They more closely resemble what I know of Stacie’ s and my Mom’s using flour and baking soda. Never had one with saltine crackers. Both look like winners to me though and I’d be happy with either.

  8. 2013/04/04 at 9:47 am #

    …and I get whipped again.

  9. Jackie Van De Walle
    2013/04/04 at 11:15 am #

    Both you and Adam bring a refreshing observation of memories and recipes past. Keep up the good work.

  10. Christy Cummins
    2013/04/04 at 11:22 am #

    Mmmmm…I love Salmon Patties. My family’s recipe calls for the canned salmon (my mom taught me to just crush up those bones with a fork so that they blend in and you don’t even know they’re there), about half a sleeve of crushed Club crackers, onion, s & p, and an egg or two to hold everything together. And ours was always served also with canned peas and buttered egg noodles. Instead of ketchup, my mom always sprinkled the patties with a capful of bottled lemon juice. Even though fresh-squeezed lemon juice is always better, I always use bottled when I have Salmon Patties (funny the things you do just because you’ve always done them). Your story made me misty for my Me-Mom (my name for my grandmother). I wasn’t old enough to want to covet things like mixing bowls and recipe boxes when she passed…

  11. 2013/04/04 at 12:08 pm #

    I love your title. Made me all smiles. 😀

  12. Sarah
    2013/04/04 at 12:31 pm #

    So I’m sitting at work and I just started crying reading this. God, I miss Granny and Pop and Grandma so much. It’s nice to read this stuff and smile and laugh, but it brings a horrible pain with it. What amazing stock we come from, you and I. That said, I feel like you mentioned Robbi’s favorite, so you have to mention mine. Mine was always, hands down, Granny’s spaghetti and meatballs. And closely thereafter were her homemade waffles. But the salmon patties, the beef stew, the chicken and dumplings, and pretty much everything she made, were so delicious. And I always think of her when I eat any of them, even when they’re not similar.

    What I wouldn’t give to walk in to their kitchen and see Granny on her stool at the stove, stirring a pot of some delicious concoction, while Papa sang and acted goofy and you could hear Granny’s laugh bellowing throughout the house. *sigh* Now back to work.

  13. Sarah
    2013/04/04 at 12:34 pm #

    oh and her TACOS! God eats them.

  14. 2013/04/04 at 1:05 pm #

    Is it just me, but I can’t seem to locate the print button. I can’t remember what Mother put in her salmon patties. She wasn’t particularly a good cook, so I didn’t make an effort to learn most of her recipes, which were never written down. I started cooking standing on a kitchen stool and by the time I was twelve, I cooked from recipes and she was just as happy to let me do most of the cooking. Daddy was a lot happier on the days I cooked. LOL.

  15. 2013/04/04 at 4:28 pm #

    Yep, you brought serious tears to the eyes on this one. Thank you so much for sharing. And I LOVE how your grandpa changed the words to fit “Salmon Patty Night’! Funny and clever!! Sounds like they were amazing people.

  16. 2013/04/04 at 4:54 pm #

    What a gorgeous story! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve never liked salmon patties that much, but I think you may have tempted me to give them another shot! =)
    Nina x

  17. 2013/04/04 at 5:11 pm #

    Alas, nobody ever got the recipe for my grandmother’s salmon cakes — a requisite for us kids on the Polish-Catholic Christmas Eve meal of 1,000 types of fish. Served with lemon and her vinegary cole slaw hand-sliced as thin as angel hair.
    This recipe doesn’t seem like hers, they seem more deep fried and have less flour. But I’m always trying to make salmon cakes just to remember my Babci (and the omega-3s from the salmon don’t hurt… although I don’t even think those were identified by science when she was flipping them in her cast iron skillet.) I will give these a try.

    • 2013/04/04 at 9:57 pm #

      Where hers more like stiff pancakes? Because that’s were my Granny’s were really like….I can’t seem to get them quite the same…

      • 2013/04/04 at 10:17 pm #

        Thinking about it, they were kinda like a crab cake, but drier. Every time I make salmon cakes at home they come out different… and never like hers.

  18. 2013/04/04 at 5:29 pm #

    Christine,
    I really enjoy your writing. I am an Aussie ( as you may know because you follow my blog Bird’siview http://birdsiviewblog.wordpress.com) and lived in Texas at college on a tennis scholarship for 18 months, so I am interested to find the recipes for some things I really enjoyed. My guilty pleasure was CFS (Chicken fried steak). It was $1.99 for lunch then with a baked potato and salad, which satisfied my hunger and suited my budget. I was pleased to discover this recipe in one of your blogs a few months ago.
    It worries me all the canned products and highly seasoned things you make. I might be particularly sensitive to it as I’ve just discovered I’m lactose and fructose intolerant (which surprisingly includes onions, wheat and corn syrup) 😦 so can no longer eat these things. I substitute spelt flour and the green of spring onions. Basically 90 per cent of products in a supermarket are now off my menu. I wonder whether many people in Texas suffer similar problems?

    • 2013/04/04 at 10:03 pm #

      Many people are lactose intolerant. That’s a natural result of decreased milk consumption after infancy. Only people who are always heavy milk drinkers throughout life continue to produce a sufficient amount of lactase to digest the lactose in dairy products. Most people I know that are lactose intolerant either take lactaid, or sub dairy free milks, such as almond or soy. I only know one person who is fructose intolerant, and her diagnosis was questionable….now she eats fructose again without issue. There are always ways to make those substitutions..I find that people living with various food sensitivities learn over time to adapt quite well to their new “normal”

      • 2013/04/06 at 4:36 pm #

        Thanks for your informed reply. It is interesting to get an idea of how intolerances are handled in America. The university near me has been studying malabsorption of fructose and lactose. They have developed a breath test for diagnosis. I won’t bore you on it. But I ill continue to enjoy your blogs. And I make a vegetable variation on your salmon patties which the kids love with my home made tomato relish.

      • 2013/04/07 at 9:43 am #

        I bet veggie patties would be delish!

  19. 2013/04/04 at 10:44 pm #

    hi, we have veggie variation of this thanks for reminding me.

  20. 2013/04/04 at 10:55 pm #

    “Salmon-chanted eveninggggg…you may see a strange fiiiiiish, you may see a strange fiiiiiish across a crooooowded pond…”

    Sorry, had to. To be fair, you started it. 😉

  21. 2013/04/05 at 4:52 pm #

    My family had salmon patties (which we called croquets, for some reason), but the binder was (as for so many other things) matzah meal. I don’t know where the recipe came from, or where it went to. My mother might have it somewhere.

    One thing about my family’s kitchen was that onions were generally fried until they were slightly blackened. That gave things a unique flavor.

    I don’t even know if you can buy the kind of canned salmon my mother and grandmother used. I know that the last time I bought canned salmon, it didn’t look like I remembered. It was more pink than orange.

  22. 2013/04/06 at 12:26 pm #

    Excellent story and you gave me chills when you found THE BOX. After my grandmother died, her younger sister came to the house and asked my grandfather for her recipe box, which he gladly let her have. Now SHE can’t find it and, frankly, I’ve been over there. Her house is like an episode of Hoarders. I am in despair when I think about it so I try not to. In my family, we always made salmon patties with leftover mashed potatoes so I still do.

    Your salmon patties look divine! Like Jen, I’d like to vote for both of you!

    • 2013/04/07 at 9:42 am #

      Oh no! Im sure you grandmother’s box is there somewhere…..staying safe underneath a pile of something….y’all will find it one day…

  23. 2013/04/06 at 6:38 pm #

    Best bad pun of the week!!! Love it!

  24. 2013/04/06 at 6:42 pm #

    Shared on Hot, Cheap & Easy’s FB page!

  25. 2013/04/06 at 10:46 pm #

    Wow! These really took me back… We had salmon patties growing up too and I still make them for my boys once or twice a year. We used saltine or club crackers crushed up, canned salmon, eggs, onion, salt and pepper and just mixed everything together, then formed into patties. Ketchup is a must! Thanks for the trip down memory lane… I need some of these, really really soon!

  26. 2013/04/07 at 12:29 pm #

    I just found you via Adam’s site. I look forward to following your blog! And I am with you on the fresh salmon vs. canned. 🙂

  27. guinifi
    2013/04/07 at 6:11 pm #

    wow! these look incredible! gonna try this 🙂 I hope it turns out as great as your photos look

  28. 2013/04/08 at 9:16 pm #

    I love your pictures and recipes, they are mouth watering. Would love for you to share them with us at foodieportal.com. We are new but at foodieportal.com we are not photography snobs, we are just foodies.

  29. 2013/06/30 at 3:45 pm #

    Thank you for this. I love salmon, and the story of your Granny and Papa brought tears to my eyes- they remind me of my own Gran and Papa, with whom I have very similar memories, and who are both now passed on. Thank you for visiting my blog, I’m glad that you did as it’s how I found your gem of a blog. I follow you in my reader. xx

    • 2013/06/30 at 3:48 pm #

      Thanks! Don’t your Gran and Papa still inspire you to be your best? Mine do…..

  30. 2013/12/31 at 11:59 am #

    You hit a chord with so many people who had lovely Grannies. Mine made us her own ravioli and my sister and I cut out the dough circles for her using a water glass. My kids love porcupines, too, and my love-to-cook Mom has been looking for a good salmon cake recipe. (I shared your post with her) So very serendipitous for me that you read my blog. Yours is great! I’m a new follower! Thanks for following mine!

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