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DIVAS ON A DIME: How to get your salmon fix on a tight budget

A well-stocked pantry is a wonderful thing. Here’s a stellar pantry staple I don’t write about often enough, so let’s dive into some canned salmon.

There’s no doubt that salmon is among the healthiest of foods. Yet fresh salmon is expensive, seasonal, and sometimes hard to find, particularly salmon that is wild caught rather than farmed. So, while we wait for fresh salmon to go on sale, canned salmon is an affordable shelf stable choice for the frugal and fabulous pantry.

Yet it’s essential that you read the labels on any salmon you may buy, so you know what you’re getting.

Farmed salmon is an unhealthy choice due to antibiotic use, toxins, and polluted water where the salmon are raised in huge pens. Also, avoid fish labeled “Atlantic Salmon” as they are almost always farmed due to overfishing wild Atlantic salmon to the point of near extinction. When choosing canned salmon, seek out “wild caught Alaskan pink salmon”. This is the wild salmon caught in North American waters. Alaskan salmon fisheries are well-managed and sustainable. It’s not only an ethical choice but it’s also affordable.

If you’ve never tried canned salmon, here’s what you should know. Canned salmon comes in two varieties: with the skin and bones and without. Canned salmon without skin and bones is more expensive and is used just like tuna.

If you buy salmon with the skin and bones, it’s less expensive but there’s a tiny little drawback. Namely, skin and bones. You’re getting a section of the cleaned whole fish (scales and organs removed) placed in the can (with skin and bones) then pressure cooked right in the can. It’s actually kinda cool. The bones are soft and completely edible, in fact, they’re highly nutritious. You can choose to eat everything in the can, or you can pick out the skin and bones leaving only the fillets.

If you or your family feels squeamish about the bones, my solution to the bone dilemma is simple. I remove the obvious bits and add a handful of slivered almonds to any recipe using canned salmon to completely camouflage any remaining bones. Works every time.

Canned salmon is so versatile, you can make sandwiches, salads, chowders, pasta and more. But a favorite is salmon patties. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with flavor. This adaptable recipe also makes awesome burgers, or little appetizer cakes.

SALMON PATTIES

Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

What You’ll Need:

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup green onion, minced – divided

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¾ teaspoon Old Bay seafood seasoning

½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce

½ cup celery – finely minced

2 eggs

1 (14.75 ounce) can pink salmon

1 tablespoon slivered almonds – optional

1 ¾ cups panko breadcrumbs – divided

1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning – *see note below

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, for frying

Here’s How:

In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, half (¼ cup) of the green onions, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, and Old Bay. Transfer about ½ cup of this mixture to another bowl (to use as a dipping sauce or spread later) and set aside. Into the remaining mayo mixture add celery, remaining green onion, beaten eggs, and your salmon. For this purpose, I remove the skin and bones but it’s your choice. Add the almonds, if desired. Stir to combine. Thoroughly fold 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs into this mix. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl combine remaining panko and the everything bagel seasoning.

When you’re ready to cook your patties, place a skillet on medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.

Divide the mixture and form into 4 or 6 patties. Working one at a time, press each patty into the panko mix, covering all sides. The patties will be sticky until they’re coated, then they’re much easier to work with. Place immediately into the heated skillet, placing no more than 3 at a time into the skillet. Cook on the first side for 4 minutes before carefully flipping over to cook another 4 minutes, or until fully cooked. Repeat with remaining patties, adding oil as needed. Serve with the reserved dipping sauce.

These patties are delicious served simply with a salad or as a burger with the usual accompaniments.

*Note – Everything bagel seasoning is a blend of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt. It’s super tasty but if you don’t have any you can substitute dried onion, and/or garlic and some kosher salt.

So, next time you’re stocking your pantry, I hope a few cans of salmon find their way back upstream to your shelf.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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