National Burger Month 05/11/2011: Inside-Out Salmon Cheeseburgers

Oh man. Too much beef. I don't know if I can keep on doing this. But I'll do it today at least. Today I decided to do salmon because... too much beef.

I've done inside out cheeseburgers before, with beef and lamb. Conceptually, the inside-out salmon cheese burger is similar. It's two patties of meat that I use to sandwich a little bit of cheese. For this sandwich, I take some grilled salmon basics and turn them into a burger.

1/2 pound salmon fillet (pin bones and skin removed, so I'm left with slightly under 1/3 pound)
1 tbsp dill, chopped
2 tbsp Philly cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp olive oil

I chopped the fillet into manageable cubes and processed them in a food processor, pulsing until it was chopped but not liquified. Into the fish I mixed the dill, and some salt and pepper to flavor. I formed two patties, and layered the cream cheese on top of one of them. 

After this, I covered the cheese up with the other patty and patted everything together until I had one cohesive fatty patty. I then massaged it with the olive oil, softly and gently, and oh so lovingly, so that when it went on a medium hot grill, it wouldn't dry up too much.

Fish doesn't take as long as beef to cook, so after just 2-2 1/2 minutes I flipped it over and cooked the other side for the same amount of time. If you do it properly, this thing wouldn't leak too much. I'd imagine if you do it incorrectly, you'd have no cheese left inside the burger because the Philly, it just runs when it melts. Yuck.

You can do what you wish with your fatty patty of salmon. I topped mine with tomato and microgreens, and had it in English muffins. Oh, yes.

National Burger Month 05/20/2010: Cornmeal encrusted catfish

Like a serpent in wait, the cornmeal encrusted catfish laps at the air with its slithery tongue, ready to strike when the time is right.

I usually make cornmeal encrusted catfish when I am exhausted for ideas about what to cook. It's a fast dinner, it's easy, and catfish is pretty easy to get. This time around I didn't have any buttermilk to give the fish subtle tang. But that wouldn't have worked anyway since the fish chunks wouldn't have held together if I used it instead of eggs. I could've added a bit more salt or citrus, though. Next time, next time...

1 pound catfish filet, minced
1 egg beaten
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
salt and pepper

Just mix everything together. Let it sit for a little bit so the fish can absorb the sriracha flavor.

National Burger Month 05/07/2010: Halibut and Fried Ginger

I lied... I'm not going back to beef just yet. Just one more non-beef burger. And then I can go all meaty.

I was browsing the FoodBuzz today and ran into this recipe for steamed halibut with fried ginger from the blog My Fiance Likes It So It Must Be Good. Thank you, MyBFLikesIt! It reminded me of a dish my mom used to make for me and I realized I wanted to adapt it burger-style. I guess that's why I asked around on Facebook if a burger needed to be fried or grilled to be called a burger. The consensus was that yes, it wouldn't be a burger unless it were fried or grilled, though some intrepid souls suggested braising might be good. In the end, this discussion was moot because while I did steam the fish, I finished it on the pan. Was I sliding down the slippery slope to fish cake? Who knows? Anyway, I enjoyed this one.

For the buns, I turned back to an older burger I did a couple of years ago. I made onigiri-yaki "buns" (recipe here). Onigiri-yaki are for all intents and purposes roasted rice balls and are fairly bun-like.  I think for many of my Asian inspired burgers I'm going to go this way. And before you say "Hold on homeslice, that's not a burger bun!" I will point out that there is precedent for this. There's the SPAM Rice Burger from a place called Freshness Burger (which is definitely not a burger-- it's a slab of SPAM!)  and there's also the MOS Rice Burger which uses a bun made of rice and millet. It figures these places are both Japanese fast food chains. I tried a MOS Rice Burger when I was in Singapore and I really liked it.

Back to the fishy business.

For two halibut burgers:
1 pound of fresh halibut filet, diced and divided in two (I felt almost bad for dicing really beautiful halibut; I wanted to pull out my charcoal grill and just throw the filets on it.)
2 scallions sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
2 tbsp ginger sliced into thin half inch strips
2 teaspoons sesame oil
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tbsp canola oil

1. Prepare your steamer
2, On a small plate or saucer, toss some scallions, 1/4 of the ginger, and 1/2 of the garlic. Form the chopped halibut into patties.and lay one over the scallions, ginger and garlic. Drizzle the fish with 1/2 tsp mirin and 1/2 tsp soy sauce. Drizzle 1/2 tsp of sesame oil on the halibut. Finally, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Do the same for the other mound of fish chunks.
3. Place the plates into the steamer and steam for about 7 minutes-- don't over steam it because you'll finish these in the frying pan.
4. While the fish is steaming, turn your attention to a hot pan and heat up the canola oil and the rest of the sesame oil. Toss the remaining ginger into the pan and fry until it browns, about 5-10 minutes. Just in time for the fish to be done.
5. Carefully scoop the now steamed fish from the steamer and lay it onto the frying ginger. After about 30-45 seconds, or just enough time to brown a little, flip the burgers over and brown the other side. Do the same for the other burger.

Serve over prepared onigiri-yaki.

That should really fulfill the non-beef quota for the week, Tomorrow, real meat.

National Burger Month Day 16: Salmon Burger with Hollandaise

I almost had a panic attack tonight due to some unforeseen circumstances that could've kept me from having my burger for the day. Some people know of my current state of gimpiness, hobbling around on crutches. What a bummer too--yesterday was Bike-to-Work Day in most of the SF Bay Area and I wasn't able to bike-to-work because of my gimpiness. Well, today, before I had a chance to do my shopping, my car broke down, leaving me with the scary prospect of not being able to celebrate National Burger Month because of my present immobility. Luckily for me, housemate Andrea decided to bike to the market to get us tonight's ingredients.

So we made salmon burgers. Andrea actually bought salmon steaks, which were fine. Except removing the bones took a little bit of work and I spent the evening with salmon smelling fingertips. So while I was busy pulling pinbones out, Andrea was making the hollandaise sauce. Mmm hollandaise sauce.

The burgers:
1/2 pound of salmon, preferably fillets, cut into cubes
1/4 cup scallions, chopped finely
1 egg
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp parsley, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste

hollandaise sauce (sorry no recipe-- Andrea is super secretive about this, but I'm sure you can find hollandaise using that wonderful foodie search tool you can find in the sidebar on the right)

Stuff the salmon into a food processor and pulse a couple of times until you have a pink mass, but not a mushy pink mass. You need to see smaller chunks of salmon but not salmon puree. Then mix all the rest of the ingredients in there. Form into patties. Grill the salmon burgers for about 2-3 minutes per side or until brown on each side. We topped with bits of chives.

The result was a delicious burger. Hollandaise and salmon, of course, go together like ice cream and my tummy (or coffee and my head) and this did not disappoint. The butteriness of the hollandaise went very well with the slightly citrusy, slightly oniony burgers. My cat, Winifred, watched us plaintively from a few feet away. But Winifred, we were thinking of you. Onions and cats do not go together safely, unlike delicious hollandaise and salmon.

National Burger Month Day 9: Tombo Tuna Burger with Ginger Wasabi Mayonnaise

It was fortuitous that I called Andrea when I did because I was stuck at work, on crutches, with no ride home, and she was about to do the grocery shopping for tonight's installment of National Burger Month with John.

We already knew that fish was coming. About a week and half into burger month, we were already starting to moo at passing cars. Our original idea was an ahi tartare burger (grilled, to give it burger cred). Ahi tartare is a dish that seems to have become a throwaway standard at any San Francisco restaurant that describes itself as hip and fashionable-- 10 years ago. Any chef nowadays can pull an ahi tartare off as well as I can put cornflakes in a bowl in the morning. Ahi tartare, as overexposed as it is on restaurant menus even in backwater places like Santa Cruz, California, or even Edison, New Jersey (culinary capital of Edison, New Jersey), is sometimes just right. Ahi tartare has become comfort food.

So we did some research and decided to do an Asian inspired burger. We are in California after all. The sashimi quality ahi was twice the price of tombo (a.k.a., albacore) and since we were grilling these suckas, we just went for the tombo.

The burgers:
1 pound tuna cut in chunks and thrown into the food processor, then pulsed until burgery
1 tsp scallion chopped
1 tsp ginger ground
2 tsp soy sauce
a little pepper

The wasabi mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks
1/2 lime squeezed
1 tsp mustard (regular brown)
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sesame oil

To top:
avocado, sliced
black and white sesame seeds

We made two batches. One naked, and another dressed in sesame seeds. I prefer the sesame encrusted version. The burgers were seared on a griddle for about 40-45 seconds per side.

The burgers were delicious. The wasabi mayo was perfect-- not too strong, a little sweet, but still had a kick. Overall, the package was satisfying. Were I to do this again, I would add some more soy sauce and perhaps a little lime juice to the burger as the tuna just sucked up everything I mixed in there.