This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com.
How many ways can I love this tuna burger? So far, at least 5 or 6 (see toppings). But what I really love about this meal is the protein punch that it packs, preventing me from nibbling on crackers or chips throughout the evening to come. Oh, and did I mention how tasty this crispy-on-the-outside burger is with the little flecks of celery and red bell pepper with lemon, cilantro, spicy mayo and velvety avocado? If you feel like gilding the lily, toast the bun (brushed with butter) and it’s 100% tastier.
It’s that easy: Once upon a time I recommended grinding or processing the tuna to break it down, but I’ve discovered that there’s a better way. Be like a samurai and finely dice the tuna with your chef knife. Simply cut it down into thin slices and then cut again into fine dice. It takes a few minutes, but you will feel very “in charge” and so glad you splurged on that terrific knife.
- Prep time:
- Total time:
- 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 20 oz. Ahi tuna steak, cut into fine dice
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup panko (dry Japanese bread crumbs), plus 1 cup additional bread crumbs for dredging
- 3/4 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. wasabi powder or paste
- 4 hamburger buns, brushed with melted butter and toasted under the broiler for 1 minute
- Mango salsa or pico de gallo, Major Grey’s chutney, bread and butter pickles, cilantro chutney, chimichurri, onion marmalade, etc.
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup arugula
- On a large cutting board, dice the celery and pepper, chop the cilantro and mince the garlic. Add them to a large bowl. Zest and juice the lemon and add it to the bowl as well.
- On the same cutting board, finely chop the tuna into small dice and add it to the bowl along with the eggs, bread crumbs, 3/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss to combine the mixture with your hands and shape into 4 patties, about 1-inch thick. Arrange them on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. The cooling time helps them to hold together making handling easier.
- While the patties chill, combine the mayonnaise and the wasabi in a small bowl and taste it. It may be hot enough for you at this point. If you want more heat, continue to add wasabi in small amounts until you get it right. If the powder is lumpy, press it through a small strainer before adding it to the mayo to remove the lumps. Now is also a good time to toast the buns, open up the mango salsa and slice the avocado.
- Pour the cup of bread crumbs on a plate. Gently press the chilled burgers into the crumbs so that they adhere on both sides.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Cook the burgers in the hot oil for about 2 minutes on one side or until crispy and brown. Turn the burgers and cook for another 1 minute or until browned on the other side. If you prefer your tuna burger well done, cook for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second or until firm to the touch when pressed lightly.
- Serve the burgers on toasted buns spread with the wasabi mayonnaise and topped with the mango salsa, avocado and arugula.
Make-ahead: The burgers can be formed and kept covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
Extra Tasty: Combine 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt and 2 Tbsp. water in a microwavable measuring cup or bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the microwave and immediately add 3/4 cup peeled and very thinly-sliced seedless cucumber, pushing it down so that it is immersed in the liquid. Allow the cucumber to pickle for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Top the burgers with the pickled cucumber instead of mango salsa, etc.
Wine to Try: Gewurtztraminer – There are many styles inherent in this palate-pleasing German wine. This varietal goes well with spicy foods and is a favorite to pair with Chinese, Thai or Indian inspired fare, so it will go beautifully with this spicy burger.