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Baked or fried, you choose, these Humble Salmon Patties go back to my Granny! She made the original recipe for us dozens of times during my childhood. They were and are truly healthy comfort food. Rich in calcium, good eaten cold or hot, they’re as versatile a snack as they are a meal. Humble Salmon Patties are perfect for Paleo, GAPS and Whole30 eaters, dairy-free, with great complex carbs and high in protein!
Salmon patties are a bit different than salmon cakes, in my mind. Salmon cakes are made from fresh salmon, fried till crispy and served with aioli. They are served in French restaurants or made at home, often dipped in bread crumbs, flour or cornstarch before frying. Salmon patties are something my Granny made. They are humble, good cold and feature grated carrot. Salmon patties use canned salmon. They’re a great way to increase one’s calcium intake, by using canned salmon with the bones included.
So both are healthy. But one is (gluten and grain-free) humble home food, just a good basic for eating fresh or as leftovers, nourishing and yummy, but not something I’d serve on a bed of field greens to a luncheon of ladies.
Both are usually made with eggs, to hold the patties together.
You can add eggs to this recipe to increase their protein, make the recipe larger, make the patties stronger for flipping or if you want more eggs in your diet. But we get plenty of eggs in our diet and one of my sons has an egg allergy. So I make this egg-free version and they hold together well, even while hot from the oven or frying pan.
I give both variations below– baked or fried. Baked salmon patties will give you an easy preparation and make the patties a bit stronger, sturdier. Fried patties are more like salmon cakes, soft inside, crispy outside, more indulgent tasting, predictably. I bake ours if we’re bringing them along to a picnic and plan to eat them cold. Or to stock the fridge with easy snacks or lunch food. I fry them if we’re eating them fresh and hot, for dinner.
Serving suggestions? Eat them like a burger~ on a bun or with your favorite grain-free fixins: avocado, ripe tomato, sauteed onions. Serve them with homemade aioli, cheese, mustard, raw onions. Make them bite-size to serve as appetizer finger food with dipping sauce. Pick them up with your fingers! — whatever suits you. They’re casual, easy protein, good fat and calcium.
For those of you who are squeamish about canned fish– hmmm, well, I guess you have to work up to the skin and bones part of it! The patties do get smashed up and make these components less noticeable and more palatable. Yet I know this is not a food for everyone. (Americans are lightweights, in my opinion. When I know something’s good for me I learn to like it. Yet, I have always liked salmon patties.)
I give three variations to the actual recipe below: one Middle Eastern, one Thai-ish (mostly just yummy!) and the third version is made with aioli, very good hot, and nut, seed and legume-free but with egg yolks. (The first two versions are egg-free.)
Enjoy! And may this recipe help you get canned salmon, with all those good bones, into your diet!
Tahini is sesame seed butter. Look for and buy HULLED sesame seed butter. It is easier to digest and MUCH lower in phytic acid. You have two main flavor variations to choose from below: the combination of tahini and dill or peanut butter and basil. Both are great. The inclusion of peanut butter with salmon certainly sounds strange; but we LOVE it. Of course, we love everything with peanut butter. (I am known to eat it with carrots and cheese.) In this Salmon Patty setting it plays a Thai roll, paired with basil, and is quite cozy and yummy. The tahini-dill variation is more traditional, a Middle Eastern ingredient marriage. Choose whichever sounds best to you, or try them both. We alternate and enjoy them for different reasons. My husband and kids love the peanut butter version. I like to eat the peanut butter version before it is cooked, fresh from the bowl– (wink)! For the recipe closest to my Granny’s, see the Variation below in Recipe Notes. She used mayonnaise and bread crumbs. So I have one final version of salmon patties, that comes out like hers, but that is free of breadcrumbs, nuts, seeds and legumes, made with homemade aioli!
- 1 tall (large 14-ounce) can wild salmon, bones included
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/4 cup tahini or peanut butter
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or leftover cooked winter squash BPA-free can liner
- 2 tsp. sustainably-sourced gelatin, Great Lakes or Vital Proteins- see links below
- 1 tsp. dried dill or basil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup rendered animal fat, ghee or avocado oil for frying
If you plan to bake your patties, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drain water from canned salmon. Place fish in medium size mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except the frying oil.
Using the tines of a fork, smash and mix together thoroughly the ingredients.
Decide: to bake or to fry? To bake, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using an auto-scoop (tool pictured below), measure out 1 or 2-ounce mounds. With three wettened fingers*, press each mound into a flat patty. Bake until browned slightly all over, and especially around the edges, about 20 minutes.
For frying, cook patties in two batches, in a 6" skillet, dividing the fat in half, 2 T. for each batch. Or use a large skillet and all the fat for one big batch. (The patties are best cooked in a generous amount of fat.)
Heat fat in pan over medium-high heat until fully melted, about 30 seconds. Add mounds of salmon, about 1-2 ounces each, using auto-scoop (tool pictured below) and pressing down slightly to flatten each one, using the back of your spatula. Cook for 5-8 minutes on the first side, until crispy and golden brown. Reduce heat during this time, as needed, to medium or low, to prevent burning or smoking. Flip patties using some care; (they are more fragile when fried but using an offset metal spatula and the small patty size makes it quite doable. "Dig deep" with the spatula if they stick a bit). Cook 5-8 additional minutes on second side and serve.
Refrigerate any leftovers for easy, quick nourishment.
*By dipping your index, middle and ring fingers into a bit of water you produce a non-stick surface. Having a little bowl of water in this case is handy for dipping your three fingers in repeatedly between patties.
- To make a version without seeds or legumes, exclude the tahini, peanut butter and pumpkin. Substitute instead 1/3 cup homemade aioli (see recipe).