Mille Bornes – Husker Style

I had motel points worth a free night that were due to expire at the end of October, so Brenda and I decided on a road trip to the western end of Nebraska. Geologically, historically, and for bird watching purposes, western Nebraska is a big deal, but it’s a long way from South Sioux City. I always figured that forays into western Nebraska were going to involve at least a three-day trip (two travel days and one day to explore). So this weekend we blocked out three days before the expiration of the free room (that would be Tuesday) and the prediction of the first big snow storm out there (that would be Wednesday).

We’ve arrived back in Siouxland none the worse for wear. Our Conestoga wagon broke one wheel, we cracked the tongue, lost a mule, and only a single milk cow died on the arduous journey up the Platte River to Scott’s Bluff. (Just kidding – although I did have to air up my tires in Scottsbluff – granted, I’m sort of a city slicker, but I figure that’s probably about as hard has repairing a Conestoga wagon wheel.)

Being a native son of Montana I tend to think of Montana as big and everything else, except Texas and Alaska, as not measuring up. In my maturing years I’ve discovered that Florida, from Pensacola to Homestead, is shocklingly big. I also suspect that driving California south to north is also no mean feat.

But today’s subject is Nebraska, and I’m here to report that Nebraska is big! We drove as direct as one can drive from South Sioux City to Scottsbluff. Being regular shoppers at the Cabela’s store in Omaha, on the way home we took a slight southerly detour through Sidney to visit the Cabela’s mother ship. (Dick Cabela’s stuffed bull elephant is pretty cool by the way. I wonder what the taxidermy bill was on that thing?!?! But put it in the store instead of the den and, besides not having to build a bigger door to get it into the den, the elephant becomes a tax write-off.) Then, from Sidney, we drove a direct route back to South Sioux City. The total trip was 1013.8 miles. (Okay, that’s slightly farther than a thousand milestones, and the French count in kilometers instead of miles, but that’s a minor distraction, and besides, I don’t know how to say “one thousand thirteen milestones” much less “one thousand six hundred thirty-two kilometer markers” in French, so I’ll stick with “Mille Bornes” in the title.)

More about the trip later, but I did take a photo of the iconic Chimney Rock, which will adorn my blog header for the month of November.

Here’s a great low-fat, low-carb salmon patty recipe!!

I like to cook. We’ve also been eating more fish at our house, but the quality of fish in Sioux City is … well let’s just say it ain’t no Fisherman’s wharf, unless you’re looking for catfish or pallid sturgeon, and the Feds frown on using pallid sturgeon for fish patties … so I bought a can of salmon the other day – Deming brand Alaska wild-caught red salmon (or sockeye … I forget how the can identifies it, but they’re the same).

While living in Alaska I learned that the best canned salmon to get (according to the locals, many who have spent summers on the salmon trawlers) are the green cans that are slightly smaller on the bottom than they are on the top. That salmon is canned right on the boat (or on a canning boat that follows the trawlers around). It’s extremely fresh, being canned within hours of coming out of the water. The salmon that’s in the silver tins with perpendicular sides – I think of them as tuna cans – is typically canned on shore and the fish isn’t nearly as fresh, although it’s perfectly good. But the stuff in the odd looking green cans is fresher.

We’ve also become sweet potato lovers. For those of you who pay attention to nutrient density, glycemic load, etc., etc., a sweet potato is to a white potato what 100% whole wheat bread is to white bread. I’ve been making my own 100% whole grain bread (following the methods of the fabulous book, Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads – yes it’s worth the $35!!) for over a year now. And since I am eschewing all bread with white flour in favor of 100% whole grain bread, it only made sense to eschew white potatoes in favor of sweet potatoes.

(As an aside, Yukon Gold potatoes – which, for some reason, are almost impossible to get in Sioux City – have a lower glycemic load than white potatoes. But I don’t know what the point is. You can substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes for pretty much everything. They make great French fries, very moist baked potatoes – thank you Mandy Patterson for cluing me into that – wonderful boiled potatoes in soups or as a side, and great potato fritters sprinkled with coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and a smidge of cloves – which are the basic ingredients in an Indian 5 spice or garam masala. They’re so good they make you want to play in a cricket championship against the Pakistanis! But I digress.)

Anyway, back to the story. I had a can of salmon on the shelf, a sweet potato in the potato bin, and a lime in the refrigerator. That led to the following salmon patty recipe which is as good as any salmon patty that I’ve ever had.

  • 1 – 7½ oz can of red salmon
  • ½ cup (56 grams or 2 oz) of raw, grated sweet potato (it’s easier to measure grated stuff by weight than by measuring cup)
  • Egg whites from 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • The zest of 1 lime
  • A few shakes of the following
  • Black pepper
  • Onion powder (not onion salt)
  • Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper

Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the moisture soak through.

Form into patties. Sprinkle corn meal on the top and bottom and fry until golden brown.

Squeeze the lime juice from the zested lime onto the patties, garnish with parsley or Cuban Oregano – our Cuban oregano plant is a story in and of itself, but that will have to be another post.

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Recipe notes: Yes, you could use the egg yolks too, but this is the diet version designed to keep the doctors of 50+ year olds happy. I doubt he reads my blog, but one can never be too careful. Stick with 2 egg whites (wink, wink).

It did need some oil. The next time I make it, I’ll probably add a couple teaspoons of olive oil to replace the egg yolks I will never use. (wink, wink).

If you use onion and garlic salt instead of the powder, reduce the salt accordingly. It probably would have been better with fresh onion and garlic diced and sautéed, but I was in a hurry.

I made my patties long and skinny and then we rolled the salmon patties in buckwheat crepes (the authentic French style 100% buckwheat crepes, not the American abomination which adds a little bit of wheat flour and buttermilk) and turned them into finger food. They were a touch dry, but probably would have been excellent with tartar sauce. I suspect they would have been just as good with tortillas, but I had crepes in the freezer this week, not tortillas.

And a final note. I haven’t tried this with lemon, but I’m confident it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. The combination of fish, sweet potato, and lime gives the patty a Caribbean flavor. Granted, it would have been a bit more Caribbean with grouper or red snapper, but I had salmon on the shelf.

I suspect it would have been fabulous with a mango ginger chutney (such as you find in the West Indies) or a mango chili salsa (made from mangoes and scotch bonnet peppers if you want something more Cuban or Puerto Rican).

Sadly, we had mango ginger chutney in the fridge, but I didn’t think about that until after the salmon patties were but a pleasant memory.