Sunday, March 14, 2004

Canned salmon not so fishy anymore

By Tommy C. Simmons
The Associated Press

If you haven't bought canned salmon in a while, you're in for a pleasant surprise when you do. It used to be an unappealing seafood product. When you opened a can, you would find discolored chunks of salmon, pieces of dark skin and, more often than not, a few fish bones, too.

The salmon was cheaply canned and accordingly priced. Canned salmon gained the reputation of being a staple frugal food, which you served mainly during Lent or after Christmas when household budgets were tight.

No more. Canned salmon is still inexpensively priced, but the quality of the product has been upgraded tremendously. Equal in texture to canned tuna, canned salmon can be used to make salmon cakes that would be welcome on any table at any time. Our staff bought six cans of Chicken of the Sea skinless and boneless pink salmon and opened them to verify the seafood-canning industry's claims for the improved quality of canned salmon. We were amazed at how much better it is now than just five years ago.

We picked through the chunked salmon to make sure there were no bones, and we found only two tiny pieces of discolored chunks. Plus, with salmon now packed in water, the fish had a cleaner taste and less fishy aroma.

We also tested several salmon cake recipes, including this one.

Salmon and Brown Rice Burgers

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can pink salmon

Vegetable cooking spray

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

Clean salmon, discarding any skin and bones. There will be about 11/4 cups fish. Place fish in mixing bowl.

Coat small skillet generously with cooking spray. Saute onion until soft, 4 minutes. Add to salmon. Add rice, bread crumbs, basil, egg, lemon juice, black pepper and cayenne. Using fork, mix until ingredients are well combined. Chill 45 minutes in the refrigerator.

Divide salmon mixture into four parts, forming each into 3-inch by 3/4 inch burgers. Salmon Burgers can be made ahead up to this point and refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap on plate, for up to 4 hours.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in medium-size, nonstick skillet. Cook burgers until well-browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and add remaining oil, lifting burgers gently so it can coat pan. Cook until burgers are well-browned, about 3 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

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