Normally I'm suspicious when it comes to non-beef burgers, since a proper hamburger is such a marvelous culinary pinnacle. Why mess with a good thing? Yet so many preconceived notions have met their doom (see Nick's turkey burger and lamburger in earlier Dinner Tonight entries). I became a salmon burger believer at a restaurant near my old apartment in Brooklyn called Petit Crevette, where they served up not a dry crumbly abomination, but a moist patty that flaked like a fillet on a brioche bun. Saddled with a craving recently, I set out to find a recipe.
I ended up with this Mark Bittman recipe on Bitten, which solves the problem of holding the meat together by totally pureeing 1/4 of the meat into a paste which holds the larger chunks of salmon together. While some recipes call for mayonnaise or an egg to keep the patties intact, I liked this purer salmon-only approach.
The result is a wonderful way to enjoy salmon. Taking the cue from some other recipes I found, I stirred in a little lemon juice and parsley into mayonnaise to create an herby sauce. A perfect match for the rich, flaky burger.
Adapted from Bitten -serves 4-
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 2 small shallots, peeled and cut into chunks 1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs 1/4 cup chopped parsley Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil 1/3 cup mayonnaise Juice of 1/2 lemon 4 soft hamburger buns
1. Cut the salmon into large pieces, and combine 1/4 of the pieces with the mustard in a food processor. Process until the mixture becomes pasty, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the shallots near the end so they are also finely chopped.
2. Add the remaining salmon pieces along with half the parsley, and pulse until the larger pieces are somewhat combined with the mixture, making sure not to over-process. 1/4-inch pieces of salmon should remain; you don't want a complete salmon puree.
3. Turn out the mixture into a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs by hand. Season with a healthy pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper, and shape into four patties.
4. Heat butter or oil in a large (12-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is very hot, carefully place the patties inside and cook 2-3 minutes per side, turning once. Alternatively, grill them for the same amount of time, though be careful as the patties are rather fragile.
5. In the meantime, stir the remaining parsley and the lemon juice into the mayonnaise. Serve with the burgers on a bun or a bed of greens.
"The ultimate burger for me is actually a lambburger," - Ted Allen, The Food You Want to Eat.
God, is Ted Allen right? I sat there in awe of this seemingly blasphemous creation and couldn't help from moaning. Unlike other devious ground meat patties that aren't beef,ground lamb actually has enough fat and enough flavor to taste like something. It was, actually, really remarkably good. I ate another to make sure. That one ended up being even better than the previous one.
This recipe didn't seem destined to work. I had to substitute various ingredients, including lemon zest, which I replaced with a splash of white wine vinegar. I also kind of screwed up the accouterments. I didn't have the cucumber to make the yogurt sauce, and I didn't think it would be wise to top my burger with a tomato considering the salmonella outbreak. So I just treated this guy like I would any normal beef burger and topped with a squirt of ketchup and a smear of Dijon mustard. Like I mentioned before, everything somehow combined to make a truly memorable burger.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a co-founder of The Paupered Chef, a blog dedicated to saving time and money while enjoying food in every way possible. He sells wine for a living and lives in Columbus, Ohio.
1 pound ground lamb 1 teaspoon capers 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1 Dijon mustard Pinch of parsley, chopped 2/3 kosher salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 4 buns Canola oil
1. Gently mix together the lamb, capers, lemon zest, mustard, parsley salt, and pepper. Form into 4 loose patties.
2. Get out two saute pans. Place one of medium-high heat and the other medium. Pour in a tablespoon or so of canola in each pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Set a couple patties in the very hot pan. Cook for two minutes on each side. Then transfer to the cooler pan and cook for another 2 minutes, but just on one side. Repeat with the other patties.
3. Stick the patty in a bun and top with what you like. Yogurt works well, as does ketchup.
-Try it with north african spices: cumin, coriander, allspice, cayenne...and maybe a bit of minced onion and garlic. maybe some grilled onions, slice of tomato, and lemon aioli on it? harissa aioli?
-Top it with feta, some mayo mixed with harissa, and a tomato and arugula.