Friday, July 07, 2006

From the sublime to the ridiculous

After weeks languishing on the couch picking at a bit of soup, I am back in the world. With 3 lots of interstate visitors passing through, the timing couldn’t be better. I have cooked only once in the past week – the other meals have been provided by 4 better than average pubs and my favourite Thai.

So for my one spot of cooking this week, there wasn’t a lot in the pantry. I wanted some comfort food and I was hankering for a bit of fish at a time of day when the fishmonger was shut. We keep being told to eat more fish, salmon in particular. I like seafood so it’s not a hardship. But here in Australia, all things salmon are not as they seem. Instead of swimming contentedly in streams, ours sluggishly hang out in fish farms. Unlike the wild kind, these ones eat commercial food, not their natural diet. As a result dye makes the flesh it’s trademark orange, sometimes the fat is so heavy it seems more akin to that of a land animal and flavour is uniformly bland. More importantly it seems that this kind of fish isn’t living up to the nutritional good-oil promise.

However my canned salmon claims to be proudly "Wild Alaskan", so for now I choose to open a tin rather than buy the fresh variety.

Old fashioned Salmon Patties

mashed potato
canned red salmon (the best you can afford)
Semi-dried tomatoes (optional)

beaten egg
olive oil

While the potatoes are simmering, dice the onion and fry on a moderate heat. As I was going to braise some cabbage to eat with the patties, I did a double lot of onion – 1 red and 1 brown (just for the hell of it), which I cooked slowly with olive oil and crushed garlic til it was almost caramelised. Usually I’d just fry it quickly til the onions are transparent.

Pick over the salmon. Give the cat the skin and she will be your friend for life (or at least til her stomach is full). Take out the bones (unless you like the crunchy texture) and eat them as calcium boosted snack (or pass them on to the feline). Flake the flesh and combine with the cooked onion, garlic and mashed potato. Combine well and add a little cracked pepper, chopped parsley and if you like them finely chopped semi dried tomatoes.
Now how does the mixture feel? Is it hanging together well? If it falls apart when you roll it into balls, beat an egg and add a little to bind the mixture,

Shape into patties.

You can fry them as is or dip in beaten egg then roll in polenta. This gives a crispy coat to the patties yet keeps them gluten-free.

Fry in some olive oil til golden brown on both sides.

The cabbage cooked with onion, garlic and anchovies made a great side dish and hit the spot as an all round comfort food meal.

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