I have a fond recollection of my mother making salmon croquettes – golden, crunchy, savory patties, served with a side of shredded raw cabbage and a dash of Bulldog Worcestershire sauce.
I remember her lining the plates, assembly line across the counter, and watch as she would arrange the potato patties, flecks of pink mixed into the potato-white in an orderly row. She would then place them in a plate of flour, an egg wash, and then into a plate of panko, which she would make at home – stale bread in the gigantic blender that came out only on special occasion.
I recall the rich, oily scent of the patties deep-frying in a wok, the patties deepening with color until each one was a beautiful honey brown. My mother would pick them up, carefully, with long, bamboo cooking chopsticks, let the oil drain well, and place them on paper bags that were folded, lined with paper towels.
However, the best memory of her making the croquettes, is when my mother was flaking the canned salmon, and I would hover around the kitchen table, waiting for her to fish out the bones – crunchy and salty, and oh – so special because there was only just enough for a small taste in each can.
I bring this memory up because I decided to make salmon patties last night – and I was flaking up the contents of a can of salmon. (Two actually, one smaller one from Wild planet foods, the other, a regular sized Trader Joe’s can). I fished out the bones, and offered them to my kids. The little one wasn’t sure – but the older one popped them in her mouth, chewed carefully and said, “It’s good!” Upon hearing her sister, the little one popped her bit into her mouth, nodded and said, “Fish!”
Into the flaked salmon went two ribs of minced celery, a 1/2 cup of steamed multi-grain rice, 2 beaten eggs, and a drizzle of olive oil. I mixed everything together with my hands until well incorporated, heated up my trusty cast-iron pan over medium heat, a drizzle of canola oil, and gently laid down the patties.
I let the patties brown until a crisp crust formed, then gently flipped them over.
When both sides were well-browned (and easily removable from the pan), I laid them out on paper towels to drain.
Today’s bento included:
Roasted beets, cut into heart shapes
Raw cabbage, cut into bite sized pieces, marinated in soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil and grated ginger over night.
Multi-grain onigiri – (white and brown rice, millet, barley, quinoa and wheat berries, steamed) with a store-bought seasoned konbu (kelp) center, wrapped in nori
Both girls each tried a small patty for breakfast. My older one was convinced at the first bite – the little one watched her older sister’s reaction, before taking nibbles of her patty. These nibbles quickly turned into “lion bites” as she realized how good they taste!