I’ve laughed before about recipes created by the poor to stretch the budget that were coopted by the wealthy. Here’s another chapter. For the wealthy these tend to turn into crab cakes and other more expensive fish.
Here’s the basic idea. You’re going to take a bunch of crackers or dried bread (say, about half a standard package of saltines or club crackers) that you’ve coarsely crushed – not dust, just small pieces – and put these in a bowl. You’re going to take a bit of fish (say, a 5 ounce can of tuna). You’re going to drain it, break it up into flakes, and stir this into the crumbs. Stir in a bit of aromatic flavoring (a tablespoon or two of chopped onion), then a slightly beaten egg to bind it. You’ll make four loose (ie, don’t mash them into dense lumps) patties out of this which you’ll fry for 2-3 minutes in a dry to lightly oiled medium hot skillet.
Look at that list of ingredients. Even ‘back in the day’ when people purchased from the fisherman the idea stood. Meat that’s seriously stretched with a cereal filler. Four patties is (depending on your thriftiness and sides) a meal for two to four people. It’s a Poor Person’s meal.
Use crab instead of the canned tuna and even if you add nothing else it’s delicious, but you’re beginning to spend some money (unless you’re in a trapping community – and even then you’re using what you couldn’t sell or held back for your own table).
Yes, I made these last night. I had a side of sweet and sour red cabbage and some oven fries (potatoes cut up in the same fashion as french fries, tossed with a bit of oil and salt, and baked till tender). I topped the fries and the cakes with a dressing that was 3 parts (by volume) mayonnaise and one part lemon juice. The most expensive thing was the head of red cabbage, and there was enough of it left over it’ll supplement today’s lunch for two of us.