When most people think of a salmon meal, they are imagining fresh salmon steak or filet. And for special meals, that’s exactly what I’ll order in the fish department at the grocery store.
My husband will then cook it to perfection on the grill or under the broiler, and we’ll have a very special entree to celebrate whatever the occasion happens to be.
But it’s an expensive dish, so it’s not one I include in my regular weekly menus.
It’s funny to think that fish used to be considered a cheap meal, one that people ate when they could not afford meat.
That’s where the Lenten practice of having fish on Friday came from. It was supposed to be a kind of sacrifice to forgo meat and eat seafood instead.
Growing up, we did typically eat fish at least once a week. Swordfish, cod, and sole were mainstays. And they were economical. But that was in the days before mercury toxins made eating swordfish a health hazard, and serious overfishing depleted ocean fish populations so dramatically that fishing quotas were put in place.
Now it would never be considered an economy or every day meal that most families could afford, priced as it is at $5 per pound on sale -- and up to many multiples of that when it’s not. And it’s hardly a sacrifice to eat it.
So, fish is definitely now a luxury for most families.
But there are more economical ways to buy salmon and include its terrific nutritional benefits in your diet without blowing your budget. Here’s how I do it:
Now, some people might wrinkle their nose at the canned version of salmon, but I’d point out that they would likely think nothing of eating canned tuna.
And the truth is, the salmon they get in the can was packed when it was much fresher than the salmon they see in the display at the fish counter. So, I’d ask them to rethink their reluctance about the canned variety and give this recipe a try.
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It makes for quite a tasty meal.
The burgers do not make a meal all by themselves, of course.
As usual, I recommend a nice, tossed salad and another colorful vegetable, in addition to a pasta, rice, potato or couscous dish to complete the meal.
My preference is mashed potatoes, but the couscous is a very quick choice that goes quite well, too. It’s also more expensive, though.
You can also serve the burgers with a roll for larger appetites, or without them for those who need to watch their calorie intake or have smaller appetites.
The burgers themselves, with their yogurt topping, cost about $4 to make, and the recipe makes 5 good-sized burgers. You can easily double the recipe if you need to feed more. I did that when my boys were at home.
With a tossed, green salad, mashed potatoes, and carrots, the meal comes to about $9-10, or about $1.75-$2.00 per person. That’s a bargain for salmon by any measure!
The burgers and yogurt topping can be made in about 15 minutes and on the table in about twenty minutes. But count on about 20-25 minutes of prep time for the other vegetables and the rest of the meal, and a total start to finish time of about 40 minutes.
NOTE: One of my sons has developed an allergy to eggs, and I know this is a common problem for many people. So I have offered an egg-free alternative for this recipe, using flaxseed meal and water as a substitute. It's not exactly the same, but it's very close and works quite well. Since it doesn't bind quite as well as the eggs, you just have to be a bit more careful in the cooking and turning of the patties.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 5 patties
Prep time – Approx. 15 minutes for the burgers, 35 minutes for the meal
Start to finish meal time- Approx. 35-40 minutes
Total recipe cost – Approx. $4
Total per person meal cost with rolls, potatoes or rice, fresh vegetable and salad - Approx. $1.75-$2.00
For the burgers:
1 15-16 ounce can salmon
½ cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 small/medium onion
1 bunch scallions
4 tablespoons of flaxseed meal/ground flaxseed, combined with 10 tablespoons of water (egg substitute)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot sauce (any type)
For the Coating and Cooking:
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoon regular flour
2-3 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
For the Topping:
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise (optional)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or hot sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or to taste)
6-8 large carrots or approximately 1½ pounds of vegetable of your choice
4-6 large potatoes (or 5-6+ cups of cooked pasta, rice, or couscous of your choice)
1/2 -1 cup of milk (for the mashed potatoes)
5 hamburger rolls, preferably whole wheat (optional)
Lemon (optional, for vegetable)
Potatoes, Salad and Veggie Prep:
- Wash and scrub or peel the 4-6 potatoes and cut them into eighths or so to make pieces about 1-1½ inches in size.
- Place them in a medium saucepan and cover them with water.
- Add about ½ teaspoon of salt to the water, and cover the pan.
- Place it over high heat and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-medium low and allow the potatoes to simmer for about 20-25 minutes until you can pierce the potatoes easily with a fork.
- Set a timer to remind yourself.
- Prepare and wash the salad greens and set aside to drain.
- Wash and scrub, or peel the 6-8 large carrots.
- Cut straight across the carrots to make regular slices, or on the diagonal to create slightly different type of slices.
- Place the vegetable in a covered, microwaveable container with about 1 tablespoon of water. Set it aside.
- Mix the 1 cup of yogurt, ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and the 1 tablespoon of mustard together, and set it aside.
- If you are substituting flaxseed meal for the eggs, then mix the 4 tablespoons of meal with 10 tablespoons of water and let it stand for 10-15 minutes while you get the rest of the salmon mix ready. It should have a somewhat sticky, glutinous consistency at that point.
- If you're using eggs, crack the 2 called for in the recipe into a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir or whisk them briskly.
- Peel and finely dice the small onion (about ½ cup). Or wash the green onions/scallions, cut off the ends, and slice them crosswise into thin pieces. I recommend cutting as far up the green portion of the scallion as possible. There's no reason to just use the white part and waste the rest.
- Open the 15-16-ounce can of salmon and drain it completely.
- Put the salmon, the onions or scallions, the beaten eggs or flaxseed mixture, the ½ cup of oatmeal, the 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, the ½ teaspoon of red pepper, and the 1 teaspoon of hot sauce all together in a mixing bowl. Mix together well with a fork.
- Divide the mixture into 5 equal portions and form patties about 3-4 inches in diameter and about ½ -inch thick.
- Mix the 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of cornmeal for the coating and spread it on a small plate. Roll the edges and surfaces of the patties carefully in the mix.
- Put the finished burgers on a plate.
- Preheat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.
- Carefully place the salmon burgers in the hot oil in the frying pan. Set the timer for 5 minutes. Go on to work on other parts of the meal.
- When the timer goes off, turn the burgers carefully with a spatula. Press them down a bit with the back of the spatula. Set the timer for an additional 5 minutes.
- While the burgers are cooking, check the potatoes to see if they are done. When you can pierce them easily with a fork, drain them.
- Heat the 1/2- 1 cup of milk in the microwave for approximately 1 minute, until hot.
- Pour the milk into the pot with the potatoes and use a potato masher to vigorously mash the potatoes and milk together until they are a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Scrape the potatoes together in the pot and set them aside, covered.
- Place the carrots or other vegetable in the microwave and cook, covered, on high for about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the microwave oven and drain, if necessary.
- Meanwhile, finish making the salad by adding some cut up vegetables and dressing it.
- When the timer goes off, remove the frying pan with the burgers from the heat.
- Serve the burgers topped with the yogurt, on a roll, if desired, along with the mashed potatoes, the steamed carrots, and the tossed salad.