Like many home chefs, I found a love for cooking while spending time in the kitchen with the women in my family. I was able to learn delicious family recipes, and if I was lucky maybe some family secrets. My grandma watched me a lot when I was younger, as both my parents were military. We’d spend the whole day together, and she’d always make me a homemade lunch. My favorite was salmon croquettes. She used canned salmon, herbs and spices to make a delicious fried fish patty.
To some of y’all’s horror, that was my first and only experience with salmon for a long time. We don’t have salmon in the Gulf, so canned and fried it was. I didn’t have “fresh” salmon until I went to Jamaica. My parents took me on a cruise, and I had fun snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, but I had even more fun eating.
When my dad travels, he goes to the heart of a city, talks to the locals, asks the cabbie to take us to their fave food spot. This method eventually brought us to an open-air market where there were fish on ice and a variety of colorful vegetables stacked on tables. Smells of street food filled the air, jerk chicken was being made on open grills as others were preparing salt fish.
I finally stumbled upon a man making salmon cakes on a griddle. The smells were much stronger and spicier than what my grandma made. As I tore into the delicate fish cake, I was met with a ginger flavor, soon followed by a punch of spice. Sorry grandma, but these were the best croquettes I have ever had. The texture was far better, and I could not get enough of that heat.
Back at home, my mother started buying fresh salmon, and anytime there were leftovers I’d try to re-create that perfect salmon croquette. I finally arrived at this quick and simple recipe filled with fresh peppers and herbs.
This recipe is perfect if you have leftover salmon. The deep brown sear on the outside creates nice, crunchy nibbly bits that are irresistible. Serve with mango slaw, rice or on a bun.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6 patties
- 1 pound salmon, fresh uncooked (canned or cooked leftover salmon), skinless
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup bell peppers, chopped (I used a mixture of yellow, red and orange)
- 1-3 Scotch bonnet peppers with no seeds (or habanero); minced. (Wear gloves when handling; 1 will give a nice medium heat that isn’t overwhelming at all, 3 will be more upfront and consistent)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (if you are gluten-free, try cooked rice)
- ¼ cup mayo
- 3 tablespoons parsley; chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil.
- Place salmon fillets on baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. If you get a fillet with the skin on, you can remove the skin, season with salt and pepper, and then bake skin side up at 350 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes on greased foil for a crispy skin bite to enjoy alongside your croquette. If using canned salmon, skip this step.
- While salmon is cooking, in a skillet over medium heat sauté onions, bell peppers, Scotch bonnets, garlic and ginger with 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Once salmon is done, place in a large bowl and mash with a fork. Add sautéed vegetables, breadcrumbs, mayo, parsley, paprika, cumin and eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combined.
- Divide the salmon mixture into balls. Anywhere between 4 and 6 balls works.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium to medium-high heat. Place balls on skillet and press to form a patty. Don’t overcrowd the pan; work in batches if you have to. Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, until deep brown. Remove and enjoy!
- Store any cooked patties in an airtight container for up to three days.