Crabby Patties: Midwestern Fish Patties

What do plankton, crabs, starfish, sponges, and an octopus all have in common? They all eat Krabby patties! Okay, maybe I’ve watched a little too much Sponge Bob (4 kids will do that to you), but it got me thinking; what would a mermaid eat? From most folklore tails, mermaids are beautiful and beautiful creatures eat beautiful things like cake? Right? But, the thought of trying to eat cake under water didn’t sound appetizing in the least bit. Which in made me think of crab cakes! They are best moist and the main ingredient is a product from the sea. Plus, it fits the main criteria; cake.

My whole family really enjoys crabby patties. It’s one of the few fishy foods the whole family agrees on. Mostly, be because of the word cake in the title. I have a secret though, I hardly ever use crab meat in my Crabby Patties. It’s really expensive and very difficult to find east of the St.Croix river over in Wisconsin. I can think of many reasons why many stores don’t carry it out here, but it comes down to not enough demand. We are land locked and about as far from the sea as one can get. Which also ruins our chances of ever seeing a mermaid too! So we adapt.

I make bass cakes, walleye cakes, smoked trout cakes, salmon cakes, and chicken-apple cakes. Confession here: I have never made a true crab cake at home for my family. I get to the store and I suffer from an extreme case of sticker shock, rendering me speechless and clutching my wallet! In the past if a catering customer asked for it, I would more than oblige, for a taste of a crabby patty…I sound like Sponge Bob who loved crabby patties and Mr. krabs, who was always worried about the cost.

New recipes are either created from new foods, idea concepts, adaptations or more commonly, from mistakes. I have made all kinds of new recipes from all of those. Some good, others..well let’s just say “not” so good. Most often though, it’s from a lack of an available ingredient or a disastrous attempt at a new recipe. Isn’t there a saying, “failure is the mother of all innovation?” I am a mother innovator.

I one of my more glorious moments was when I adapted a crab cake recipe to fit our midwestern pallet and local fish supply. Walleye cakes were born. From that smoked trout cakes came next and lastly, bass cakes. Bass cakes came last because they are not a favored fish in our house. Walleye is and will always be our coveted fish. Bass cakes surprised the socks off us though. The bass were amazingly tasty in this recipe. Dare I say, even better than walleye cakes? They added just a little bit more flavor than the walleye. I know that Ron Schara uses salmon in his famous walleye cake recipe, because the walleye didn’t add enough flavor. Innovation at it’s finest moments.

My husband said, “your really going to share one of your “best” recipes?” Yup honey, I am. Some secrets are meant to be shared. Crab cakes can be made with all kinds of much less expensive fish than with crab. Which brings me to my own request from our readers; If any of you sees a mermaid, you too, must share your encounter with us. Pictures would be most appreciated. Preferably from a female reader too. Most mermaid sighting are from men who have, more than likely, been at sea way too long. Merman accounts would be even more appreciated!

Midwestern Crabby Patties
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Crab Cake Recipe

1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion chopped fine (3/4 cup)
4 stalks celery (1 1/2 cups)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon small capers, drained
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh uncooked fish, walleye, bass or trout, deboned
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs, beaten

For frying
1/4 cup olive oil or safflower oil

Melt the butter and oil in a large fry pan. Add onion, celery, peppers, parsley, capers, Tabasco, Worcestershire, Old bay, salt, and pepper. Sauté over medium-low heat until veggies are tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor place fish and pulse until fish resembles course ground meat about 6-8 pulses. Or, chop fish with a sharpe knife until fish is in small 1/4 pieces.

In a large bowl, place raw ground fish, panko, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Toss and then add the cooled veggie mix. Cove and chill for 30 minutes or until you are ready to fry.

Shape patties into 2″ round patties. Heat oil over medium heat in a large fry pan. Add patties and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side or until fish is cooked throughly. Careful not to over crowd the pan. Drain patties on a paper towel and keep them warm util ready to serve in a warm oven at 250 degrees. Serve with remoulade dipping sauce.

Remoulade Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped kosher dill pickles
2 tsps pickle juice
1 tsp coarse grain mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl mix all ingredient until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

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