Conducting grocery-store tours, mentioned in this blog’s previous post, I always look for those light-bulb moments among participants.
But some foods remain a tough sell, particularly ones with decades of negative associations to overcome. Fish, in the Rogue Valley is one of those.
We’re not talking about chinook or steelhead fresh from the Rogue River or rainbow and brown trout plucked from local mountain lakes. Most of the fish available to most local residents in in grocery stores: flash-frozen or previously frozen and ammoniating in the grocer’s cooler with every passing hour. Either way, seafood comes with a hefty price tag, and the quality is unpredictable.
That’s why good-quality, locally caught fish from sustainable fisheries is a staple in my pantry. And if the government had its way (check its MyPlate dietary guidelines), we’d all eat more canned fish. It’s generally speaking, a high-quality protein source that’s fairly budget-friendly and, if you’re vigilant about avoiding brands with excess sodium, can contain vital nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, that many Americans are lacking.
The tiny, pliable bones in canned salmon factor heavily into its calcium content. Canned salmon, however, still plays second fiddle in most consumers’ homes to tuna. The former, more costly fish probably seems like a luxury to cooks short on ideas for serving it outside of sandwiches.
I, too, consider milder tuna a bit more versatile, which is why I purchase it by the case from Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston, mentioned in previous posts. But when I’m picking up my season’s stock of olive oil-packed albacore, I always tack on a half-dozen cans or so of coho salmon.
The species, compared with pink and chinook, is relatively obscure as a canned commodity. With a more delicate texture and milder flavor than chinook, it’s also slightly less expensive. My family loves it in salmon burgers with homemade coleslaw.
Try canned salmon in the following recipe, which goes great inside a bun or solo on the plate. While this version, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, calls for cooked salmon, canned works just fine. I added an egg to the mixture and used panko, rather than fresh, breadcrumbs.
Mix together 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 3/4 pounds cooked salmon, skin, bones and gray strip of flesh discarded. Mix gently.
Pat into 8 cakes, each about 1 inch thick. Roll cakes in 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs. Heat a thin film of oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Cook salmon cakes in batches until crisp outside and hot inside, for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Makes 8 cakes.