As children, my sister and I were raised on salmon croquettes. It was a fun dish to watch my Louisiana-born mother make. I’d wake to the smells of fresh salmon filling the house, then hurriedly toss the covers off my bed and tumble down the stairs to the sound of frying patties sticking to the black-bottomed skillet.
We all have fond memories tied to our families’ kitchens. And Kwanzaa gives us an opportunity to celebrate the special foods that bind us. This holiday season, consider sharing these croquettes, a favorite Southern dish, with your family.
After all, for children, there’s no better feeling than standing on tippy-toe as a loved one tosses “new” memories over cast-iron.
(serves 6 to 8)
1/4 cup plus 2 T. butter
1/2 cup plus 3 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 pounds fresh salmon, uncooked, sliced thinly
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
Parsley sprigs and lemon wedges for garnish
Blend 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Blend in butter and flour mixture.
Remove from heat. Add pepper, salt, bread crumbs, and salmon. Mix thoroughly and then spoon into a dish to cool. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add the remaining butter and sauté onion until transparent. Add contents of frying pan to the cooled salmon mixture. If the mixture appears dry, add additional cream. If it’s too soft, add additional bread crumbs.
Form into 6 to 8 patties; dust patties with the remaining flour. Fry patties in hot oil over medium heat until cooked through and golden, approximately10 minutes per side.
Garnish with parsley and lemon.
This recipe was adapted from The African-American Heritage Cookbook: TraditionalRecipes & Fond Remembrances from Alabama’s Renowned Tuskegee Institute, by Carolyn Quick Tillery (Citadel Press, 1997).
Johnny Slaughter is the author of Brother in the Bush, available at bookstores nationwide.