Swimming Upstream

I’ve been feeling like we are swimming upstream with this farm deal, so I made Southern Salmon Patties to “embrace it.” My husband is not a southern boy, he is Italian. So, well, he passed on that particular “embrace it feast.” I remember at least  20 years ago when I told him that I had “a hankering for Salmon Patties.”
He gave me a blank stare. He had never heard of Salmon Patties before. However, he had already learned the word “hankering.”

Oh boy, I thought, he’ll love these! I couldn’t wait to introduce him to the wonderfulness of that southern dish.
The wonders of canned salmon—-do you know until I was an adult, the only salmon I had came in a can? (Same with tuna.) And Sweeties, I like canned salmon. Salmon Patties are just canned salmon, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, and onion, mixed together and shaped into patties and then fried to crispy perfection.
My mom always made them with biscuits and white gravy. I called my mom and got directions on how to make “salmon patties.”
It was quite alarming the first time I opened up a can of salmon.

I called my mom back. “Um, what do I do with the grey stuff and the little white things? What is that any way?” “Oh, the skin and the bones,” she explained, “pick out the skin and mash the bones with a fork. The bones are good for you.”
So I hung up the phone and told my husband to come over to show him what had come out of the can of salmon.
That was a mistake on my part.
“Bleh-the smell! I’m out,” he said. And then I showed him the skin and bones, “I’m definitely not putting that in my mouth!
“Wait! No. I’m taking that stuff out. You have to try it! Salmon Patties are delicious! I grew up with them! It’s like a—like a—tradition!” He mumbled something about spaghetti being a far superior tradition.
So I made it, using the basic recipe that is below. I didn’t make biscuits because I thought they were too much trouble and I didn’t make gravy because I didn’t know how at the time. It was twenty years ago, remember? But I made those salmon patties. And I served them to my husband.
And my husband tasted it.
And he said no. Never again. Not him. Not Salmon Patties. He said that he fully understood why they were called “Salmon Patties” like well, you know the “cow patties” thing. So that was that. End of story. He has never eaten them again in the last 20 years.
But I still make them. And now I make the biscuits to go with them and sometimes the gravy (these days, I know how.) My daughter, who is 10, loves them. When my husband is headed out of town, she’ll say, “Salmon Patties for dinner?” And I say, “YES!”
So back to embracing my current status of ‘swimming upstream.’ We’ve all got to do it at certain points in our lives, don’t we? So I figure we might as well see it for what it is (tough! challenge!), hunker down, and fight our way upstream. There is surely a sweet reward at the end of all this upstream swimming!
Look how this video of salmon swimming upstream. Oh lawzy.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTGT7giq3Ss. That’s inspiring, isn’t it? I mean, those fish just keep at it!
And wait until you hear this. You talk about inspiration.
The Life of an Alaskan Salmon, by Rebekah (who happens to know a thing or two about swimming upstream and finding your way home.)
Alaskan salmons hatch out of little eggs that were laid in rivers and streams. They quickly grow and then start to make their way out to the Pacific Ocean. For some, this is hundreds and hundreds of miles.
On their voyage to the ocean, they grow and mature and adapt from fish that live in rivers and streams into fish that can live in saltwater. (!)
They then come together in schools and hit the big time, the Pacific Ocean. They stay there for several years.
And then they head back home. (!) Yes, back home to the waters of their childhood. Back to the place their eggs were laid. (Am I the only person who didn’t know all this? The life cycle of a salmon?)
The salmon transform back into fish that can live in freshwater (!) so they can get back to the place same river or stream they had left.
They swim upstream in rugged rivers, through rapids and rocks. They leap up waterfalls to get back to their own home. (Oh my goodness, I’m about to cry. Middle-aged woman alert! About to cry about the salmon swimming 2000 miles and fighting against all odds to return home.)
I bet you know what they do at home, don’t you? Yep, they either lay eggs or fertilize them, depending on whether the salmon is a boy fishy or a girl fishy. Only the fierce and survivor genes from the ones who made it back carry on.
Wow. What a tale. I couldn’t have made it better if I had made up every single bit of it. Which I didn’t. It’s a true story. Nature gets me every time.
Now I know that you know what I’m talking about. How it feels to swim upstream? In fact, you’ve done it, haven’t you? Sure, it was tough, you were going against the flow, it was harder than anything else you’d ever done, but you made it. Now won’t you tell us how? How did you get ‘er done and swim up that stream?
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

www.rebekahteal.com (I’ll put up a picture of what I hope will be my sweet reward for all this swimming upstream!)
Southern Salmon Patties
(Delicious no matter what my husband says.)
1 can (16 ounces) salmon
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, well beaten
½ to ¾ cups dry bread crumbs
Drain the canned salmon. Put in bowl and pick out the skin. You can leave the bones (they’re good for you) or pick them out too. Flake fish with a fork. Mix in chopped onion, parsley and pepper. Mix in beaten eggs. Add bread crumbs, enough to make thick enough to shape into patties.

(some people like the onions chopped smaller, but I like chunks)

Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add patties and fry slowly on one side, then turn once and fry until brown on the other side.

Drain on papertowels.

And, hey, try not to over-brown them the way I did on this batch. They’re still good though!

Great served with homemade biscuits and white gravy! You in or out on the Salmon Patties?

  1. Carol in NC says:

    I grew up with salmon patties too. Love them! Swimming upstream is the stuff of life, work those muscles girl!

  2. Cindy says:

    My Mom made salmon patties for us when we were growing up, even though we grew up in Indiana, and I don’t like them. And, like you, I only had salmon and tuna from a can as a child too. And I didn’t like either of them! I like tuna salad, but not salmon patties. And I wonder why we don’t make salmon salad and tuna patties. We just don’t. And to this day I didn’t know about that gunk wrapped around the salmon because I do not make or eat those patties. So thanks for that visual because it just reinforces my original decision to not eat them! But I do eat ‘real’ salmon not from a can!
    As for swimming upstream. I feel like I’m doing it now, building our own house. I just want it done and want to move.

    Cindy Bee

  3. Ginelle says:

    Love salmon patties, so yummy! Make these often. I brown in butter and add a squeeze of lemon juice when eating. And serve with steamed vegies.

  4. loreta says:

    I love salmon patties too. One time when I was at my brothers we baked a whole salmon amd the next day I made salmon patties and he said the patties were better than the baked.

  5. Patty says:

    My mom always made Salmon patties when I was a little girl. I loved them! When I got married I was horrified when I dumped the contents of the can out and saw all the bones and skin too! I asked my mom what to do. Well she told me to pick out the big bones. Well I picked and picked and ended up with mothing left. She never told me I could mash them up and that I wouldn’t choke on them. I wasted several expensive cans of red sockeye Salmon doing this so I want to tell you thank you, thank you, thanky you for telling me how to deal with canned Salmon!!! I can’t wait till my next trip to the store and I will be in heaven eating my Salmon patties this Friday! God bless!

  6. I love Salmon patties, with ketchup! Like you I grew up eating them and didn’t realize salmon came in any other form than from a can!

  7. shanna says:

    I did not realize that some folks don’t like these. Just thought everyone would love them. made them. for company once! Big Mistake. you don’t notice the smell when you are used to it. Swimming up-stream is just what you do when you wake up in the morning and wonder what the day has in store for you. happy swimming.

  8. Shery says:

    I’m in. Guess what we’re having for dinner. I needed an idea and I’ve not made salmon patties for about as long as you’re husband hasn’t eaten them. My mama made them too. I guess I just forgot about it. Here is another way to eat them…maybe the difference between north and south? Make a smooth cheese sauce, serve with cooked carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and then drizzle the sauce over the whole works. Great point to your story and using salmon as encouragement for swimming upstream was perfect. Just watch out for them big ole bears. ;o)

  9. Lisa says:

    My husband lived in Alaska and watched these salmon- they die. The patties or filets are both good. However I would say some battles are worthwhile and some have been very very not worthwhile.

  10. Karen says:

    Like you I only had Salmon from a can until I was an adult and like you my mother made salmon patties. My boyfriend is French and I have not even TRIED to serve them to him!! But like you and your daughter, I love them!!
    Thanks for the remembers!!

  11. Michele says:

    My mom made salmon patties a lot when I was a kid and I despised them, because my dad had determined that they had to have Cheez Whiz on top to be any good. So mom always made them smothered in hot Cheez Whiz – blech! (The other thing they ate that way was something my mom called Tuna Whirls – don’t ask!) Once I discovered that Cheez Whiz was not a requirement, I learned to like them. My husband looooves them. He makes a huge batch and eats them cold in his lunch all week long.

  12. Beverly says:

    Oh my goodness, I have been wanting Salmon Patties for a while now!! I grew up eating them also.
    BTW…..LOVE this blog. I am a country girl and have been living in the city for some 23 years now. We are a military family and everywhere I go, I take a little country with me.
    Will surely be making some this week!! Thanks for the reminder.

  13. PeggyT says:

    I have grown up in the south, Tennessee. My mom made salmon patties for us too. Her receipe is a little different. She would use left over mashed potatoes, egg, flour, salt (if needed)and of course salmon. Fried till golden brown and drained on paper towels. Loved them then love them now. So does my children and grandchildren. They are also good cold the next day. My sisters and I would hurry home from school to see who would get to the leftover patties first. I love your blog and all of the memories you bring back.

  14. Paula says:

    Love me some Salmon patties, although here in Georgia we call them Salmon Croquettes! Had them for a birthday lunch a few day ago from the Colonnade in Atlanta, GA….Lawsy mercy, they were good!

  15. Keleen says:

    Salmon patties and "Oh lawzy". You’re a true southerner for sure!

  16. Well, good grief. What about crab cakes? Those things you pay $12 each for as an appetizer in a restaurant? Same thing as Salmon patties, just a different fish… er, crustacean… er, animal.

    I love fish/ocean-animal cakes of any kind. In fact, I just made salmon patties a few days ago. I served them with homemade tartar sauce, but I also like lemon wedges. Not biscuits and gravy. That’s for chicken. Cornbread goes with fish. With lots of butter.

    I am swimming upstream, trying to get my book finished. Every word fights me, refusing to be put down on the page. Sometimes it takes an hour to write one sentence. I’ll try being a salmon. Maybe I’ll get a whole chapter done.

  17. KimberlyD says:

    Oh I love salmon patties! I’m a northerner and my mom made salmon patties or salmon loaf. I haven’t had them in a long time and my mom died and I am glad you talked about this and have the recipe too!

  18. Cathy says:

    You made my mouth water for salmon patties now! I haven’t had them in several years but with our unseasonably warm weather we have the windows open. Good time to make them and chase the smell out with air freshener. I love them but they do leave a lingering scent behind….

  19. I like salmon patties pretty good, my son however loves them. So whenever he is around I make a batch. We like to eat ours with mustard. I actually baked them this time with a little olive oil and they turned out just as good as the fried ones. I put chopped onion, celery, bellpepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes in mine. (I am originally from LA) need I say more? LOL. As far as the farm I was just thinking yesterday about you and your farm and thinking man if this deal does not go through I can’t wait to hear the great news about what God has for her. Because it will be better if this is not it. It is a win win situation. Keep swimming and keep blogging.

  20. Kim says:

    I am a Yankee, born and bred, now living in the South, but I grew up on salmon patties too. In fact, I made them for myself last night while my hubby was out of town! He also has not developed a "hankering" for them. Great story of survival against the odds.

  21. Micah says:

    I love Salmon Patties! I make mine with crushed saltine cracker crumbs, you can crush them right in their plastic (1 sleeve for 2 cans). It is also a nice variation to add a little lemon pepper to the mix on occasion. I have also been known to do the bread crumbs and fine diced celery along with the onions and such, a la crab cakes, to mix it up a bit. I make homemade mac and cheese and cooked spinach served with vinegar. I also always serve my patties with a dipping sauce made of yellow mustard and worchestershire sauce. Mmmm I am hungry now!

  22. We, too, LOVE Salmon Cakes! Our recipe was taken from a Farm Journal cookbook years ago…very similar to yours, Rebeka…except I form ours using a 1/3 measuring cup and bake them on a lightly greased cookie sheet in 375 degree oven for 20 min. We serve ours with mashed potatoes and stewed tomatoes plus salad and fruit. I’m from a Pennsylvania Dutch background..thus, the essential stewed tomatoes! Delicious! BTW I just mash up the salmon can contents and add other ingredients. Great the next day,too!

  23. Nancy says:

    My family adores salmon patties. I cannot bear the smell, so my husband makes them on evenings when I’m out of the house (and opens the windows before I get home). It’s a family tradition!


  24. Jan says:

    Yes! I am another that grew up with salmon patties. Just had some a couple of weeks ago! They do hit the spot sometimes…

    I made them for my FORMER husband one time and he took a bite into one (must have seen a bone!), stomped out the front door and spit out the mouthful. Funny thing was that my neighbor friend saw the whole spectacle and was just SHOCKED..Glad that I don’t have that turkey around anymore..LOL
    Wow, that brought back some memories…

  25. rebecca says:

    Aaaaah! Salmon patties (or as we called them, salmon cakes). My mama cooked them often when I was little but with cornmeal instead of bread crumbs. I still use her recipe. We always had them with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. I fixed them for dinner one night when I was baby sitting my neighbor’s son and he loved them so much he would always ask me to make him some "fish pancakes".

  26. Helen says:

    Oh Rebekah, Guess what I’m making for dinner on this Friday night in Lent? Your Moms salmon patties!

  27. Susan says:

    Just had to say hi and how much I enjoy your writings!

  28. Louise Marie says:

    I am from Texas; i grew up on salmon patties too. Mine were made with crushed crackers instead of bread crumbs. The patties were dipped in corn meal before frying. Momma didn’t drain the liquid, and she crushed everything including skin and bones! We usually had fried potatoes as a side. They were good cold too. Isn’t it amazing how many of us grew up on salmon patties. By the way, i will be eating salmon patties this Friday like many of you!

  29. Brenda says:

    My husband doesn’t mind salmon patties, but he WILL NOT have liver. So I understand your "going out of town" spree. I am tempted to go to Denny’s for liver and onions every time he leaves town.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *