Every April the Blessing of the Fleet is held on Tilghman Island in Talbot County. The tradition began over 100 years ago to bless the waterman for a safe, productive and bountiful year. Today I will do my part to honor the waterman by including some delicious seafood recipes using their fresh catches. Seafood has always been a big part of my life for its nutritional value, its healthy benefits and the fact that I grew up near the ocean and bay and love seafood! Anyone who was, is currently or wants to live the life of a waterman faces much hard work in the freezing temperatures, excessive heat, bountiful days catch and “slim pickins.” This is all part of a waterman’s life — hats off to you, my friends, and your family who endures by your side. Let’s cook!
QUICK AND EASY SALMON PATTIES
Clean a 15 to 16 ounce of fresh salmon fillet and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl mix 1 beaten egg and 1/3 cup minced onion until sticky. Gently stir in the salmon, reserving any liquid, with 1/2 cup flour. To any juices from the fillets add 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and then stir into the salmon mixture. At this point you can add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, and maybe a smearing of mustard (optional). Mix lightly and form into cakes. Fry until golden brown on both sides in hot oil. Serve with your favorite seafood sauce and fresh steamed vegetables.
One of my favorite seafoods from the water is oysters. I think this delicacy is just one of the hardiest catches for a waterman — freezing temperatures, icy water, short supply, low dockside prices and high demand. Let us try Oyster fritters.
Blend together 5 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, salt and pepper, and 1 pint fresh oysters. Gently mix and drop into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides — drain on paper towels. I use about a pint and half when I make these as I love a “full of oysters” fritter!
Grease a 2 quart casserole dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Ingredients: one quart oysters with the liquor, 2 to 3 cups coarsely crushed fresh crackers, one stick margarine, 1 to 2 cups milk and salt and pepper to taste. In the dish alternately layer oysters, dot with butter, then crackers and sprinkle with salt and pepper, ending with a layer of crackers. Add milk until the liquid is almost at the top. Dot with remaining margarine and bake in a preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!
Another Eastern Shore favorite, the popular “fish fry” that many local organizations hold for fundraisers. A good old fashioned fish fry with country sides is extremely popular all over the Eastern Shore and at home in your very own kitchen. I like frying crispy fish with stewed tomatoes, turnip greens, cornbread and fried potatoes. Some of the popular fish to fry is tilapia, catfish, halibut, striped bass, trout and perch.
One of the secrets to a nice crispy fish is to not put any seasonings on your fish until ready to drop in the hot oil. Clean and prepare fish for frying and remove excess water by blotting with a paper towel. Only lightly flour the fish and sprinkle on desired seasonings just before placing in hot oil. I only use salt, pepper and light dusting of flour.
Up next week, crabs — a popular seafood favorite. In the meantime thank a waterman for his dedication to a job they love and we reap the benefits!