During our first year together, my husband and I visited many of the southern states on vacation. At a restaurant in Charleston, S.C., we had the most delicious crab cakes. I had never had them before, and I loved them so much that I wanted to duplicate them here at home, but the Midwest isn’t really a mecca for fresh seafood lovers. I could buy imitation crab meat, but at $3.45 for an 8-ounce package, it wasn’t exactly a bargain.
As always, my frugal brain pondered a way to make a mock crab cake that was inexpensive, and still tasted great, and that’s when I turned to a frugal staple, present in nearly everyone’s pantry – canned tuna.
Tuna has risen in price in most areas of the country, and the standard-size cans now contain 5 ounces instead of 6, but as a source of protein, it’s still quite reasonable. I recently purchased 2 dozen, 5-ounce cans of Starkist tuna in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart for 40 cents each, or $1.28/lb. It can regularly be purchased at my Aldi for 59 cents a can, or $1.89/lb, so it meets my guideline of no more than $2.00/lb for proteins.
While tuna cakes sound, well…unusual, they’re actually really delicious. Even my fussy kids, who don’t like the old stand-bys of tuna casserole and tuna salad, still eat and enjoy them. They’re especially good with fries and slaw, but when I made them this week, I didn’t have the energy to slice and fry potatoes, so I served them with a simple veggie rice medley, and cornbread. Very yummy!
If you’re looking for a new and different way to prepare tuna, give this recipe a try.
Heather’s Lemon Pepper Tuna Cakes
4 (5 oz.) cans water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip (my personal preference)
1 1/2 cups dry bread or cracker crumbs (I use saltines because I like the texture)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
2 beaten eggs
Canola or olive oil for frying
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients until well-combined. Shape mixture into 8 equal size patties. (I use an ice cream scoop to drop the mixture in the pan, and then I just flatten each scoop with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray. Much less messy). In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Use just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. If the cakes are swimming in oil, or if the heat is too high, they’ll pretty much fall apart. Cook tuna cakes for 3-4 minutes per side or until hot and golden brown. Serves 4 (2 cakes per person).[print-me/]