The Sunday Salmon Burger

Never feel guilty about eating a burger again. Enter, the salmon burger.

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Serves: 4 • Prep Time: 2 hours • Cook Time: 6-10 mins

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Rachel Silver


The Sunday Salmon Burger

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Even veg-heads appreciate a good, grilled portabella mushroom lovingly adorned with condiments on a bun.

I hope.

I enjoy a heated debate over where the best place to get a burger as much as the next guy: In n Out? Five Guys? Barney’s Gourmet Burgers? Dicks (when we’re in Washington)? Bierhaus (when we’re home in Mountain View)? And while I love having a thing of beauty presented to me with no effort expended on my part, I’ve discovered it’s even more glorious presenting a burger on a plate to my friends and saying, ‘BEHOLD WHAT I HAVE CREATED!” It’s true: the best burgers can happen right in your kitchen. But—they take time. Which is why I turn to them more on weekend, so the experience can be *perfect.*

It’s true: the best burgers can happen right in your kitchen. But…they take time.

Perfection Spoiled

Funny thing about perfection—how elusive it is when we pursue it too intensely. Last time I tried to make burgers, there was…an incident.. About ten years ago, my fairy godmother and I were enjoying a nice summer afternoon, painting the walls of my backyard fort. (Yes, I had a fairy godmother. No, she wasn’t invisible. “Fairy godmother” was her Childhood-Appointed Nickname.) We had planned to grill up some burgers, our favorite treat, for dinner. Next thing I knew, my grandmother turns off her table saw, calmly announces that she has cut off her thumb, that she needs to be taken to the emergency room, and would we please turn off her stove. Strolling through the gate comes grandma, clutching what’s left of her thumb—in her shirt.

Well, those burgers never happened. After my mom rushed my grandma to the ER, I was instructed to gather the neighbors, form a search party, and find the thumb. Find the thumb! That’s exactly what it sounds like. Going into the “scene of the crime” and scouring every inch in search of a severed filangee. We never found the thumb, but my grandmother, “power granny” that she is, didn’t seem to mind. Emphasize the “seem.”

It was three months later that my grandfather, while cleaning off his workbench, found the shriveled thumb. My grandmother, not one for getting sentimental, dispassionately threw the thing away.

I’m embarrassed to say it took me a while, but ten years later, I finally made those burgers for my fairy godmother. With a decade of experience behind me, and that experience firmly shuttered from my mind, I upped my game and delivered her a gorgeous salmon burger. It was the right choice for my fairy godmother; it can be the right choice for you.

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*Perfection* Takes Work

Zest and squeeze your lemon. I have access to a meyer lemon tree (it’s a California ‘must’), the best kind if you ask me, since they are always juicy and never woody. Fresh off the tree is such a treat.

OK, NOW it’s time for the salmon puréeing. Place a quarter of the salmon chunks, the mustard, mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest and cayenne into a food processor and purée into a paste.

Place the remaining three-quarters of the salmon chunks in a bowl, and top with puréed salmon mixture, chopped shallots, salt, pepper, and panko crumbs. Who doesn’t love some panko crumbs?

Fold it all together, and voilà—our salmon patty mixture!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Divide the salmon patty mixture into four mounds, place on parchment paper, and gently smoosh down into 4-inch wide, 3/4-inch thick salmon patties. Refrigerate salmon patties before you cook.

Oh yeah, and here’s another fun part—panko those patties! Pour panko crumbs onto a plate, place salmon patty on panko crumbs, and turn salmon patty. To cover the sides of the salmon patty in panko, use your fingers to scoop the panko on the plate and toss onto the sides of the salmon patty. Repeat with all salmon patties. Be very careful, as a salmon patty is much more fragile than a beef patty—it falls apart easily.

To cook the salmon patties, I choose a cast-iron skillet. Because salmon patties are fragile, the cast-iron allows me the most control for keeping them together, and is a more stable surface than a BBQ grate. These salmon patties might not have a smoky taste, but they will still crisp up nicely (thank you, panko crumbs) and hold their shape.

Heat oil in cast-iron over medium-high heat. Transfer panko-ed salmon patties (as many as fit) to the cast-iron pan, lower temperature to medium, and cook the salmon patties for a few minutes on each side, until they are crisp on the outside.

In the meantime, if you have a second skillet, preheat this one with a light layer of oil in it, and start heating the burger buns, cut-side down, until lightly toasted. If you do not have a second skillet, you can toast the buns on the cast-iron after each salmon patty has finished cooking. Repeat until all salmon patties and buns have finished cooking.

To serve, smear buns generously with tartar sauce (Trader Joe’s makes a delish one!!). On one half of the bun, place fresh arugula leaves. I’m lucky enough to have fresh arugula in my garden, and used this (I’m not showing off. It’s just a California thing). Here’s an arugula tip: the flowers are the best part! The flowers are the spiciest part, and the leaves are the crunchy part, so they complement each other brilliantly!

On the other half of the bun, place your salmon patty and tomatoes.

This salmon burger tastes as yummy as it looks. Add some cold suds and you’ve got yourself a perfect Sunday lunch in the sun.

Chomp.

Directions

Here’s how to make this delicious recipe

Preheat oven to 375

Prepare slow-oven-roasted tomatoes first. Cut plum tomatoes, place in well-oiled baking dish, and cook for 45-60 minutes, or longer for large tomatoes.

Salmon_burgers_4

Roast the tomatoes for 45-60 minutes

To prepare the salmon, first make sure it is deboned and skinned. Cut salmon filets into strips, and then into quarter-inch pieces. Put a quarter of these salmon chunks into the food processor, and place the rest of the salmon aside in a bowl.

Toss mustard, mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cayenne in the food processor, and purée into a paste.

Salmon_burgers_5

Toss mustard, mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cayenne in the food processor, and purée into a paste

Plop puréed ingredients into the bowl with the salmon chunks, add 2 tbsp of the panko, and the salt and pepper, and fold until combined.

Salmon_burgers_6

Fold together the puréed ingredients with the salmon chunks, panko, salt and pepper

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Divide salmon patty mixture into 4 mounds, and gently squish into 4-inch wide, 3/4-thick patties. Cover salmon patties (entire baking sheet) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Salmon_burgers_7

Divide salmon patty mixture into 4 mounds, and gently squish into 4-inch wide, 3/4-thick patties

Preheat cast-iron with olive oil on medium-high heat. Spread 1 cup of panko on a plate, carefully place salmon patty on panko, and turn to press other side of salmon patty in the panko.

Salmon_burgers_8

Spread 1 cup of panko on a plate, carefully place salmon patty on panko, and turn to press other side of salmon patty in the panko

Reduce heat to medium, and transfer salmon patties (as many as will fit) to the cast-iron, and cook each side until browned, about 3-5 minutes each. Transfer salmon patties to a paper towel.

To toast the buns, use an additional skillet while you cook the salmon patties, or cook the buns in the same skillet after you cook the salmon patties. Place the buns cut-side down to toast.

Serve salmon burgers with tartar sauce, arugula leaves (and flowers, if you have them!), and roasted tomatoes.

Take huge bite of salmon burger and savor!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pound salmon fillet skin and bones removed
  • A dozen or so plum tomatoes
 or a few large tomatoes
  • Splashes of olive oil for baking dish
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • handfuls of arugula for topping – fresh, crunchiest and best!
  • tartar sauce for topping (try the Trader Joe’s kind!)

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Who’s Cooking Today

Rachel Silver

Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”

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