One of the first dinners I ever made came from one of my mom’s Company’s Coming cookbooks – I don’t know if you can get those books in the states, but at one time everyone’s Canadian mother had them; I remember a row of them in the pantry cupboard, each book’s plastic spiral-bind a different colour. The recipe was for “Salmon Balls,” which I’ll admit does not sound tremendously appetizing. But it was, as it was little more than rice, canned salmon, and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. It was salty, creamy, and very comforting – perfect for one of these Canadian Januarys.
Of course, some things have changed, and around here we’re not really big on canned soups or heavily processed foods in general. I believe very strongly that if something’s going to be bad for you, it should be bad for you for the right reasons. This is why there are things like triple-creme brie, bacon, and bourbon. Besides, this version isn’t really bad for you, if you don’t eat it all the time. The ingredients are pronounceable, and you can easily substitute the things you aren’t sure of. Where I used a cup of sour cream, you could just as easily use yogurt; where I used white rice, you could use brown and adjust the cooking time. I’ve also crammed a few extra veggies in, so bonus points for that.
Also, this easily uses up a plateful of leftover fish, which earns you double bonus points.
But since it’s January and the whole city’s covered in a thick slurp of beige slush, there’s little reason not to go ahead and use the sour cream and white rice. Maybe you also have a hole in the sole of your boot and your work pants didn’t make it into the laundry this week and your hair just hates this weather – there are so many reasons to indulge right now, and who’d blame you?
Salmon and mushroom casserole
(Serves four to six.)
- 1 lb. cooked salmon, chilled, bones removed
- 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
- Half of one onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup minced celery
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Mushroom cream sauce:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Half of one onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp. dried savory
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- Salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine salmon, rice, carrot, onion, celery, parsley, lemon zest and juice, eggs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mush the whole thing together with your hands until thoroughly combined. Form into balls about an inch and a half in diameter (you should end up with 14 to 16), and set aside.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, add oil and onions and cook until onions are translucent, three to five minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, savory, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and cayenne, and cook until mushrooms have sweat and no liquid remains in the bottom of the pan, about another five minutes. Add flour, stir to coat, and then add milk and sour cream. Cook until liquid comes to a gentle boil. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
Ladle a small amount of the cream sauce into the bottom of a 1.5- to 2-quart casserole dish. Line the bottom with a layer of balled salmon, then ladle half of the remaining sauce over top. Place remaining salmon balls over top, and then top with remaining sauce.
Cover, and bake for one hour. If you’re using a casserole dish that doesn’t have a bit of an edge to it, place the dish on top of a cookie sheet before putting it in the oven, as the sauce will bubble up around the sides.
Serve over rice, with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
Also, if you haven’t voted and my relentless (if self-conscious) badgering hasn’t turned you off this blog completely, please visit the Canadian Food Blog Awards voting page and select Well fed, flat broke. Voting will close this Saturday, January 15. After that, I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to business as usual.
Which, you know, means a lot of photos of my cat, which are completely out of context for a food blog.
8 thoughts on “Salmon and mushroom casserole, or “Salmon Balls.””
I remember those cookbooks and one of my favorite dishes involved mushroom soup and tomato soup mixed with spaghetti and baked. I’m sure there was lots of cheese involved. I like your salmon balls. Hmmm.
Two things: 1. I love your cat. She looks feisty and a little weird, that’s how I like my cats.
2. I want the mushroom cream sauce in a bowl in front of me and in my belly.
Delicious. I really, really hope you win the Canadian Food Blogs thing.
I love that you ate salmon ball casserole as a kid, too! The kind we made was always done without the extra tough step of ballin,’ so our version was a mushy, pudding-y casserole made with Minute Rice. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, canned salmon, frozen peas, and rice were the three staple ingredients in our house, and my brother and I made many elementary school-era meals using those ingredients when we were home alone. Plus Lea and Perrin’s, of course.
I vividly remember the stack of Jean Pare’s cookbooks, each plastic coil spine a different colour. My parents even gave me one of her “contemporary healthy living” ones for Christmas a few years ago.
Thanks for this canned-soup-n’-salmon-free variation on a classic! And I love the photo of your cat’s paw with the computer mouse.
those look really, really good. Salmon in this household usually happens in the form of fried salmon patties my husband makes for a weekend brunch. This, however, looks like a FINE substitute, and one I might actually eat (can’t stand fried salmon patties), especially with the homemade mushroom sauce (YUM).
kickpleat: That sounds so good, and totally like something I might have eaten growing up as well. Cream of anything plus cheese equals delicious, delicious badness 🙂
Joy: She is equal parts weird and feisty – she’s tied up our apartment tonight in kitchen twine, so tomorrow I’ve got to buy a new roll. And thank you for your support!
Jackie: Oh, Lea and Perrins is a must. We had a couple of meals that featured Campbell’s, all amazing. All just treats now 😉
Rootie: Haha, “fried salmon patties” could be phrased so much more attractively! I hope you try this version with the mushroom sauce – so good!
haha salmon balls. I made bacalao balls with ground chickpeas a couple weeks ago and I had people over and asked them to try my “fishy chickballs.” For about 30 seconds (might have been 5), I had no idea why my roomies were giggling. Afterwards, I moved on to saying “here, try some of my tranny.” I am hilarious, yes? ❤
Hilarious, absolutely. We’re playing dodgeball on a real team with Urban Rec these days, and it kills me not to make every hilarious ball joke that occurs to me. I miss you! Come back soon?
“freid salmon patties” is an attractive a name as those things deserve. In my head I call them “fried catfood patties” but never to Terry’s face.