Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Evolution of My Tuna Cakes

A common theme in my cooking is to start with a recipe from someone else, and "Aprilize" it. It might look like the original, but only one or two of the original ingredients remain after I've had my way with it. Such is the case of my Tuna Cakes.

Years ago, I started with a perfectly good recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook for "Tuna Patties with Tomato Salsa". Then I streamlined it by using pancake mix instead of torn bread and eggs. Then I removed the marjoram and added cilantro. Sweet corn joined the party. Now, after many years, I have settled on the recipe below.

When I wrote this recipe, I used Krusteaz's Honey Wheat pancake mix. Alas, I was unable to find it in the stores after we moved to Texas, so I now use Baker Mills Kodiak Cakes - Whole Wheat, Oat & Honey Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix. [Goodness, could they make the name any longer?] The important thing to note is that you must use a pancake mix that is "just add water". If the normal instructions say you have to add egg, oil, etc., it won't work in this recipe.

These tuna cakes beg for a sauce. A little garnish of shredded cheddar cheese and a homemade or jarred salsa is what I normally serve with this. However, I've also found Braswell's Creamy Cucumber Crab Cake Sauce goes great with it too. So feel free to serve it either way, or try your own favorite. Since these are reminiscent of a crab cake, try whatever you like to have with crab cakes.

This recipe makes approximately 6-8 cakes, which is a nice meal for 2 people, depending on what else you serve with it. I like to serve it with a simple green salad on the side.

April's Tuna Cakes

1 Cup "Just Add Water" Wheat and Honey Pancake Mix
3/4 Cup Water
1 (6.4 ounce) Pouch Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in Water
2/3 Cup Cascadian Farm Organic Frozen Sweet Corn
1 Green Onion, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Light Olive Oil for frying
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
Salsa or Creamy Crab Cake Sauce to taste

Mix together the pancake mix and water in a small mixing bowl (it's OK if there are a few lumps). Add the tuna, corn, green onion, cilantro, and lemon pepper, and mix until it's evenly combined. Don't overwork it.

If you have to cook your cakes in batches, preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and have a small oven-safe pan or skillet standing by to keep the cooked cakes warm.

Heat 1 or 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat (the griddle should be nicely preheated before you put the cakes on). Place the batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, making them about 2 or 3 inches in diameter. These cakes are going to be thick, so you don't want them to be too large around, or else they won't cook all the way through. At this point, I normally turn the heat down to low, because I don't want them to cook too fast--I'd end up with something crispy on the outside but raw on the inside. You want the cakes to be sizzling in the oil, but not too hard.

When one side is golden brown, flip them and cook the other side. When the second side is cooked, either the finished cakes in the oven to keep warm, or put on your serving plates. If you are cooking in batches, you'll have to add a little more olive oil to your griddle before putting the second batch on--don't let these cakes cook on a dry griddle.

If you are going to serve with cheese, make sure you put the cheese on immediately after you put the cakes on your plates, so it has time to melt a little. Otherwise you can serve it with your desired sauce on top or on the side.