A twist from 100 years ago, and my Mom’s salmon loaf was transformed!
When I was growing up, included in our family’s weeknight supper rotation was the humble salmon loaf, often served on Friday fish nights. A simple recipe that used bread crumbs to stretch an inexpensive can of salmon to make eight servings. I remember how wonderful the house smelled while it was baking. Topped with a little tartar or white sauce (some people like ketchup) it was my sister Jan’s favorite supper, and was almost always served with mashed potatoes and green beans. Isn’t it funny how we tend to make the same entrée with the same side dishes over and over? I think there’d be a revolt in my house if the tomato soup wasn’t served with grilled cheese in some form.
I loved the salmon loaf too, although sometimes it could be a little on the dry or heavy side, and my own children were not as fond of it as I was, unless it was slathered with tartar sauce.
Let’s borrow from the past
Cheryl at A Hundred Years Ago offered a post recently on a fish loaf recipe from 100 years ago that used beaten egg whites to lighten up the dish. I decided to try this technique using my recipe that is roughly based on my mothers, and I kept my fingers crossed.
Mom’s recipe was simpler than mine. It included the canned salmon, eggs, onions, celery, milk, dried breadcrumbs, dill weed, and garlic powder. Over time, to her recipe I added a minced carrot, anchovy filets, fresh parsley, Worcester sauce, and I swapped the milk out for the juice from the canned salmon and a little tomato juice and paste, and I sometimes used fresh breadcrumbs. I also used fresh garlic rather than the garlic powder.
For my new version, I added the extra egg the 100-year-old recipe included. If you don’t consume eggs, I think you could probably substitute whipped aquafaba to achieve the same fluffiness,
Mom also had a recipe card for Salmon Soufflé, although I don’t recall her ever making this. The soufflé recipe called for a white sauce mixed into the salmon, separation and whipping of the eggs, and it was baked in a casserole dish. So, I guess this recipe is a mash up between all four versions of salmon loaf!
It came out great! Moist, tender, yet still rich and flavorful. The next day at lunch, my husband enjoyed a slice, browned in a skillet, with an egg on top. The rest, shipped off to my sister for a treat!
I like this version better than Mom’s, and the next time, I might try the Salmon Soufflé recipe with the white sauce and cook it in a casserole dish––probably my mom’s Corning Ware. My sister Jan? She loved it too!
Thanks to Cheryl for the idea! If you haven’t visited her blog, it’s lots of fun. A Hundred Years Ago
Almost Mom’s Salmon Loaf
- 1 14.75 oz. can salmon
- 1/4 cup or so tomato juice
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 rib minced celery with tops
- 1 small carrot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 anchovy filets, minced
- 3 eggs, separated
- 2 tsp. dried dill weed
- ¼ cup fresh minced parsley
- 1 tsp. Worcester sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C.). Grease a loaf pan.
Open the salmon and drain the liquid into a measuring cup. Place the salmon in a bowl, and pick over to remove any bones or skin. Break up with your fingers or mash with a fork, and set aside. I prefer the finger method because you can feel for any stray bones.
Add enough tomato juice to the reserved salmon juice to make 3/4 cup. Add to the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and set aside.
Melt butter in olive oil over medium high heat and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until softened, then add the garlic and anchovies. Continue cooking an additional minute, until garlic is fragrant and anchovies have disappeared. Remove from heat and place in the salmon bowl.
Add the egg yolks, dill weed, parsley, and Worcester sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and combine with the fork.
Once the crumbs have softened, add to the salmon mixture, and mix up everthing well.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold one third or so of them into the salmon mixture to lighten it up. Add the rest of the whites and gently fold the mixture just until combined.
Gently place in prepared pan, and level off the top. I also brushed the top with a little melted butter for a bit more flavor. Mom used oil.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned, firm to the touch, and fragrant. Let cool for five minutes, then turn onto platter. My mom didn’t do this last part, she just sliced it in the pan and served it. I’m not sure how she got that first slice out of the pan!
Top with Tartar Sauce or Lemon Dill Sauce, or even ketchup if that’s how you had it as a kid!
New England Tartar Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup finely minced dill pickles
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 tbsp. capers, crushed
- ½ tsp. Worcester sauce
- 1 tsp. chives
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Mix everything together, add salt and pepper, and taste. Adjust to your liking, and thin with more lemon juice if desired.
Lemon Dill Sauce
- 2 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose or gluten-free flour
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
- Zest and juice of one lemon
Place the butter and flour in a small saucepan over medium heat and place the milk in a second to warm. Once the butter is melted, whisk briskly to combine with flour and cook for a minute or two.
Slowly pour in the heated milk, whisking. Add the Dijon, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until thickened.
Remove from heat and add the parsley, dill, juice, and zest. Great on any type of fish or vegetables,
From Mom’s Recipe Box:
Sylvia’s Salmon Loaf
- 1 large can salmon, picked over
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup minced sweet onion
- 1/2 cup milk
- Bread crumbs enough to bind
- 1 tsp dried dill weed
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Pick all the bones out of the salmon and place in a large bowl. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Add crumbs to feel right, but not too much. Place in a loaf pan, drizzle with a little oil, and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
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