Some foods just bring back memories of childhood. I am very fortunate that the memories I have of those times are warm and happy ones. Every night, my parents and me and my two brothers sat around our red kitchen table and had dinner together. One of the things that my mother made every week was salmon croquettes. It’s not something you would think kids would have liked necessarily, but oddly my brothers and I loved them. At least I think they did. I’ll have to ask them.
Anyway, I’ll take a salmon burger over a beef burger any day. Hamburgers are so 29 seconds ago. These aquatic burgers are filled with so many different ingredients they just exude flavor. I love to pair it with the fresh dill sauce which is the perfect creamy and lemony partner for the fish. Then you top the burger with the peppery arugula, and a toasted bun for crunch, and I promise you, you’ll never look at a beef burger again.
Adapted From Food Network
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh salmon filet
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons panko crumbs, plus extra to coat patties
- salt & pepper to taste
- sandwich buns
- fresh arugula
- Pulse 1/4 pound salmon in a food processor with 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl and mix with 1 pound of salmon that has been finely diced. You want it to be a little chunky so you can really taste the salmon. Add in 2 chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons of panko crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
- I used a cookie cutter about the same size as my bun and pressed the mixture into the cutter to create uniform sized patties. Pressing the mixture into the cutter also helps it keep it’s shape. Place on an oiled cookie sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes. You want the patties good and chilled so they will retain their shape. Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Cook the patties about 3-4 minutes on each side. You want them to cook through, but be careful they don’t burn. Don’t let the oil get too hot.
- Drain the patties on a paper towel.
- Toast buns, top pattie with dill sauce and fresh arugula.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- fresh, ground pepper to taste
To make this sandwich even more perfect, butter a griddle and toast your buns til golden on the edges. It gives this sandwich a lovely added crunch.
If you have a cast iron skillet, use it instead of a regular frying pan. Fill you pan with the oil about 1/4 inch deep and don’t place the patties in the pan until the oil is hot. Cast iron skillets retain heat and evenly distribute the heat better than the standard frying pan.. Your patties will also get a nice crust on them. That’s a good thing.
To clean your skillet, use a washcloth and rinse with hot water and immediately dry the skillet. Never, ever put one in a dishwasher. Season your pan by rubbing with a paper bowl and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Gently heat the pan to help the oil soak in. (From Bon Appetit).
I suppose the thing I’m learning about life is that it’s always changing, and that things can’t always stay the same. When I became a mother I was very comfortable in that role, and I believed that my job as nurturer, caretaker, maid, cook and pain-in-the-ass, would go on forever. However, it seems that both of my sons are ready to cut the proverbial apron strings. I don’t think I’m ready to let go yet. My mind is overwhelmed with thoughts of how will they navigate the world without me telling them what to do. Will they remember to brush their teeth?
What has brought on all this unwanted anxiety, was the trip I made today with my youngest son to look at a school and an apartment in a beautiful college town about an hour from our house. I was so excited for him, and the adventure that was ahead of him. If I’ve done my job well, he will be able to venture out into the world and do just fine. I know I’m not the first middle-aged broad to go through this, I just didn’t realize it would happen this quickly. But it did.
So what, you may ask, does all this have to do with shrimp? Nothing much really. As it is now, the boys are rarely home to eat dinner, and usually never at the same time. But yesterday, they were both home for family dinner and they asked if I would make fried shrimp. Well, that’s my job, and I aim to please. So, here’s the panko crusted shrimp dish I made for them. I highly suggest you make the chive aioli. It’s cool and creamy, and a little lemon-y, and a really nice contrast to the crunchiness of the shrimp.
Panko Crusted Shrimp with Chive Aioli
From Cooking Light
- 1 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstrach
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- canola oil for frying
- 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Combine 1/2 cup panko crumbs, parsley and red pepper flakes in a mini processor; pulse to combine. Combine this mixture with the remaining panko crumbs in a shallow dish. Place the cornstarch in a shallow dish and the egg whites in a another separate shallow dish. Sprinkle the shrimp liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the shrimp in the cornstarch, shaking off the excess; then dip into egg whites. Then dredge the shrimp in the panko mixture and press to adhere.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat enough oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp, but do not crowd them and cook about three minutes per side insuring that they cook through. When the oil starts to get dark, I cleaned out the pan and heated fresh oil.
- Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Serve with shrimp.
Note: I suggest buying large shrimp instead of extra large; as the extra large tend to be tougher and have a little less flavor.
It’s funny how things evolve in your life. I cringe a little when I think back to the days when I was single. When I was 25, I moved by myself from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. I quickly got an apartment and a job as a secretary in Century City. Food was not even on my radar. I would grab a sandwich on my lunch break, and then on my way back home to the valley, I would stop at McDonald’s for a hamburger and fries. I never cooked, and there was never any food in my refrigerator. And then I met Neil.
This guy loved food. Every meal was an adventure with him. He liked to go out to nice restaurants, he loved to entertain guests, and he could cook. I mean he could really, really cook. So, over the past twenty-five years, he’s taught me everything he knows about food, and that’s a lot. But where he really shines is behind the barbecue. It’s funny, but when we get invited to people’s houses for a barbecue they’ll ask Neil to do the cooking. He makes a killer grilled salmon with herb butter that he cooks on a cedar plank. By cooking on the plank the fish will retain its moisture and the plank imparts a delicious, smokey flavor. If you’ve never cooked on a cedar plank before then I insist you give it a try.
I have purchased my cedar planks from Williams Sonoma, and also from Home Depot. You can also check online, they are not hard to find.
Cedar Planked Salmon with Herb Butter
1 cedar plank
1 salmon filet (I always buy from Costco)
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
herb butter (recipe to follow)
1. Soak your plank, weighted down in the sink or a dish filled with water, fruit juice, or wine for 4 hours. This will keep the plank from burning. I soaked my plank in salted water. Before cooking, dry off plank and brush cooking side with oil to prevent fish from sticking.
2. Heat your grill to medium.
3 Wash, and pat dry salmon filet. I removed the skin.
4. Season fish with salt and pepper and dot the surface with the herb butter.
5. Place fish on the plank, and cook on grill with the lid closed for about 30 minutes until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
1/2 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon each of finely mined basil, thyme and parsley
In a small bowl mix all ingredients together until combined
When I was in culinary school, we were having a class on wine tasting and Chef had asked each student to bring in an appetizer to pair with a wine. I made these scallop cakes, and I served them as a slider on a lightly toasted mini bun, topped with a chili-lime aioli and a smidgen of tomato concasse (Kon-Kah-SAY, sounds fancy, but it’s a diced tomato that’s been peeled and seeded. It was a nice touch, anyway). Well, the cakes were gone in sixty seconds. It’s my go-to appetizer whenever I’m asked to bring something to a gathering.
The panko crumbs give them a nice crispy crunch on the outside, while the inside bursts with the combination of the curry and the sweet butteriness of the scallop. My little tip is, when I’m forming the cakes, I take a 2 1/4 inch cookie cutter and press the scallop mixture into it. By compressing the mixture, the cake won’t fall apart when you fry it. It also insures that all your cakes will be the same size. However, if you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can still roll them into balls and then flatten them with the palm of your hand.
To insure total scallop yumminess, don’t chop the scallops too finely. When you take a bite of one of these cakes, you want that taste of the scallop to be prominent. And, just to kick the dish up a-notch, I found scallop shells at Cost Plus to serve them on. Perfection!
Curried Scallop Cakes
Makes about 30 cakes
1 1/2 pounds fresh sea scallops cut into 1/4 inch pieces or gently pulsed in food processor
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 large egg yolks
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Mix first 9 ingredients and 1 1/2 cups of panko in a large bowl to blend. Cover mixture and refrigerate 1 hour.
Place remaining 2 cups panko on large plate. Take one heaping table spoon of scallop mixture and roll it into a ball and coat completely in the panko crumbs. Then, if you have a cookie cutter or ring mold, press it into the mold to form a round cake.
Heat enough vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat to come 1/4 inch up sides of pan.
Working in batches, saute scallop cakes until golden and cooked through. Transfer scallop cakes to paper towels to drain.
These can be made 4 hours ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat on baking sheet in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. They also freeze well. I place them in an airtight container, and then reheat in a 350 degree oven until heated through.