Weeknight Shorts: Kid-Friendly Seafood

If you plan ahead a little, you can get dinner on the table in under 10 minutes. This can be a blessing when mid-week rolls around and you've just gotten into the house after picking kids up from after-school activities and your arms are full of grocery bags. What if this awaited you at the table minutes later:

This versatile, make-ahead dinner can be yours with a little up-front prep time. Make the seafood mixture in advance … the night before or in the morning is fine. While you're at it, toss together the makings for a simple green salad or make sure you pick up a nice bagged mix from the grocery store while the kids are at practice. Then, when everyone ends up in the same place at the end of the day, heat some oil, butter, bacon fat, or the like in a skillet and toss these little patties in. Give each side a few minutes to fry, remove them and let them drain for a minute, and get them on a plate. Dinner's ready!

Now I adore crab cakes, but my youngster prefers tuna cakes. No problem! I make a batch of each and I'm good to go. You could also use the tiny salad shrimp that come in a can, too. It makes for a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal. I often have a couple of cans of my favorite options in the pantry for days when time is in short supply. And hey, if you wanted to make it a fancier meal, upscale the salad you choose to serve alongside the seafood cakes, make a fussier sauce to drizzle over them, and pour yourself a glass of chilled white wine. Suddenly, mid-week quick makes you feel like a million bucks!

And, just because I'm spending a bit of time talking about versatility and ease, let me share another secret with you. When I make these, I try to make enough so that I'll have leftovers, too. I put them in a dry, nonstick skillet and just warm them over medium heat. Now that's a quick lunch! And this time of the year, I'm even likely to sit out and enjoy it on the patio. I know I dubbed this kid-friendly seafood, but it's really me-friendly seafood! Enjoy.

Make-Ahead Seafood Cakes

  • 1 (5 oz.) can tuna, crab meat, or salad shrimp - drained
  • 2 sliced green onions
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder - choose one with the level of heat you prefer
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. mayonnaise
  • 2-3 T. fat for frying - I used a 50/50 mix of bacon fat and canola oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the frying fat in a small dish and stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to fry. The mixture can be made up to a day in advance.

Using an ice cream disher, make little patties using the seafood mix. I recommend forming all of the patties in advance of heating the frying fat.

Place the frying fat in a medium-sized skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, carefully set the patties into the the fat and fry on each side for 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain them briefly before serving alongside a simple salad and topped with your favorite hot sauce, mustard, relish, and/or dressing.

  • Yields: 1-2 servings - can be easily multiplied
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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