Recipe Review: Mark Bittman's Salmon Burgers
I don't eat beef - but that doesn't stop me from eating burgers. I eat mostly vegetarian with a smattering of seafood, and I'll have poultry now and then (helloooooo Thanksgiving), so I've tried out a lot of "alternaburgers", if you will. This is one burger that I need to work on - it's good, but it's not "Wow!" good. It's really basic and a perfect base for experimentation - I just need to get creative! Mark Bittman's recipe is the perfect place to start on my quest for the perfect salmon burger; generally you can't go wrong with any recipe Mark Bittman has written, developed, or suggested, and this salmon burger is no exception.
After the recipe, Bittman includes a long list of variations and ideas for spicing up the burger a bit. I'll confess right now that I haven't tried any of these suggestions, but I will definitely be trying out something new the next time I make these burgers. The recipe I'm posting here is a tiny bit different from Bittman's - click on one of the links above for the original recipe. Bittman's recipe also indicates that it serves four - I get six huge 4 oz. burgers from this recipe, so depending on how hungry you are, take that into account when making these burgers.
- 1 1/2 pounds raw skinless boneless wild salmon (defrosted if frozen)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- bread crumbs from 1 piece of sourdough bread with the crusts removed (I just pulsed it in the food processor before I started preparing the salmon), or 1/2 - 1 cup of coarse bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- Tabasco sauce
- Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run until the mixture becomes pasty. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.
- Add the shallots, garlic, and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine a few times until the fish is chopped and well combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not to make mush here, you still want some texture to these burgers.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and gently stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into six burgers. (You can cover and refrigerate the patties for a few hours if you'd like to cook them later.)
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or cast iron skillet. When the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. You can also grill them: let them firm up on the first side, grilling about 4 minutes, before turning over and finishing for just another minute or two. To check for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside - you don't want to see any dark pink, raw salmon bits. Be careful not to overcook. Serve on buns or by themselves, with lemon wedges and Tabasco or a sauce of your choosing.
I served my burgers on whole wheat burger buns (last time I used brioche buns, which were, um, really good) with slices of avocado, a garlic aioli (just minced garlic mixed with mayonnaise), Tabasco, and a piece of lettuce, with some sweet potato fries on the side (just sweet potatoes cut into matchsticks, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper and baked at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes). Again, I could get more creative here - adding in some ginger, scallions, and soy sauce and then making a wasabi mayonnaise would be delicious; adding fresh dill to the salmon mixture and then serving with my favorite creamy dill sauce would be another winner, I'm sure. If you've never tried/considered a salmon burger, definitely give them a try. Wild salmon is so rich in good fats and oils and has such a delicious, complex flavor - you won't miss the beef!