By Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator for northeast Michigan
Craving crab cakes from the Carolina coastline? How about lake trout or salmon patties from our local freshwater seas?
For many years, our family has traveled to enjoy the coastline of South Carolina, an experience only complete with a little crabbing — and crab cakes. While crab cakes are a favorite meal when visiting the ocean coast, we found that lake trout serve as a fantastic alternative when coming home to our own Great Lakes coast.
Our native lake trout are iconic to the Great Lakes fishery but are sometimes overlooked on the menu due to their “fishy” flavor. Yet that’s what makes this fatty and flavorful fish perfect for baking and bringing out the flavors desired in this crab cake recipe. Baking, flaking, and turning your lake trout fillets into fish cakes is a great way to add new and fun flavors to your plate, turn your fish dish into a kid favorite, and create a Great Lakes meal comparable to the famed Carolina crab cakes.
Here is one of our favorite crab cake recipes, adapted from a Food Network recipe, and incorporating the simple replacement of baked, flaked lake trout for crab meat. The recipe would work great with salmon, too.
Looking for a great side dish? We paired our meal with a pearl couscous salad and peas. The pearl couscous salad offers a colorful, healthy, and easy addition to your meal! Just finely dice one mango, half of a bell pepper, two green onions, half of a cucumber, and cilantro to taste. Mix with cooked couscous and add the juice of one lime.
Great Lakes fish cakes
- 1-1 1/2 pounds of lake trout or salmon fillets (makes 8-12 cakes)
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Season fillets with salt and pepper to taste, then bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until done to your liking.
- Flake fish, removing any bones.
- Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add mustard, egg, parsley, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.
- Gently fold in baked, flaked fish and sour cream.
- Make 8 cakes, pat with remaining bread crumbs, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
- In skillet, heat remaining butter and vegetable oil. Saute cakes for about 3 minutes on each side.
- Serve with dipping sauce and tasty side dishes!
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Mix all ingredients. Chill and serve.