Fish-lovers find it difficult to understand the lengths that some will go to mask the pure and simple flavour of this delicate food … thick, deep-fried batters, pools of heavy sauce, lots of butter … only then will they agree to join you at the table where fish is served. An example of this kind of person is husband Art. He is not a fish-lover. Never has been. On occasion, he will indulge in a bit of seafood, but fish tastes ‘fishy’ and that’s that. Over the years, I have experimented and attempted various ways to ‘trick’ him into coming over to my side, but nothing has been significantly successful. Many years ago, prior to our marriage, I would often offer to pick up his groceries when I did mine. Having put himself on a very strict diet of fish and vegetables, his grocery list was simple and straightforward. It wasn’t until a few weeks went by that I was noticing an interesting trend – every week ‘tartar sauce’ was on the list. Hmmm….how’s that weight-reduction plan working for you???
Brunching on Salmon Cakes at Joe Fortes on a hot summer Sunday morning inspired me to think that perhaps this … a salmon cake (but I would call it a Salmon Burger) … would be a way to bring him over to my side. …and it worked!
The unique taste of this fresh fish is beautifully staged and supported with flavour-enhancing herbs and vegetables. With just a light coating of crispy Panko crumbs, it is pan-fried in a little oil and butter…. And then topped off with a just little remoulade sauce (a ‘white linen’ version of tartar sauce!)
Tips for making great Salmon Burgers:
- Start with top-quality fresh salmon fillets and fresh herbs.
- Be careful with processing the fresh salmon. The food processor can very quickly produce ‘salmon paste’ if you are not watching carefully. Don’t overprocess – just short pulses until a coarse mixture emerges.
- A gentle and light hand is what is required when combining the other ingredients into the salmon.
- Don’t ‘press down’ on the burgers as they cook. Leave them alone!
- Burgers can easily be made up to 8 hours ahead of time. They actually need some fridge time prior to cooking in order to ‘firm up’. Uncooked burgers can also be frozen.
- For convenience, the recipe can be doubled and the extras frozen. Defrost, overnight, in the fridge; allow burgers to come to room temperature (1/2 hour) prior to cooking.
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes per pan
Yield: Makes 5-6 burgers
1 pound (450 g) fresh salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 whole green onions very thinly sliced, include the white and green parts
½ of a red or orange pepper, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of minced celery – about 1/3 of a stalk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh dill
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Kosher salt or celery salt, or half-and-half
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (125 mL) bread crumbs, regular or Panko
1/3 cup (85 mL) Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) unsalted butter
Remoulade sauce (recipe follows)
1. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, pulse the salmon just until it is just coarsely ground. Be very carefully not to over-process. Transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl.
2. Add the lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, green onions, peppers, and celery to the salmon. Stir, with a large spatula, to gently combine.
3. Add the herbs and gently fold in.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs lightly, and add the salt and pepper. Add egg mixture to the salmon.
5. Gently fold in bread crumbs.
6. Using a ½-cup measuring cup, form mixture into 5 or 6 burgers. Gently press down on the burgers to make them about 1- 1 ½ inches thick.
7. Refrigerate burgers to firm them up. Burgers can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead of cooking, if desired.
8. When ready to cook, place Panko bread crumbs in a shallow plate. Coat each burger with crumbs, gently pressing on the burger to ensure that the crumbs adhere to the burger.
9. Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium-heat. Add vegetable oil and butter.
10. Add 2 or 3 of the salmon burgers to the pan (don’t crowd the pan) and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden. Place in a warm oven while you cook the remaining burgers.
11. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and some remoulade sauce.
Remoulade Sauce: (also great served with crabcakes)
In a food processor, or by hand, combine:
½ cup (125 mL) good-quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30 mL) very finely diced cornichons (small pickles) or pickle relish
2 teaspoons (10 mL) coarse-grained mustard
2 teaspoons (10 mL) white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste