The Global Chef: Fish cakes, burgers and pancakes | Food

Burgers are arguably the most satisfying and indulgent food there is. You can make them from pureed vegetables, beans, grains, any type of meat or seafood and call them whatever name you want: cake, patty or hamburger. No matter the season, when your family is whiny, hungry, or just a little peckish, a grilled or sautéed burger soothes and satisfies.

After years of flattening ground beef or turkey into burgers seasoned with salt and pepper, your burgers may look dull and ordinary. This year, my answer to summer burgers is seafood. Today, it’s higher quality, more easily available, and an essential part of a balanced diet.

Although fatty fish contain the highest levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, most seafood, lake or river fish contain them. Generally, the fattier the fish, the richer it is in omega-3 fatty acids (except eel). The shellfish richest in fatty acids are oysters, squid, shrimp and mussels. Of the six types of tuna (albacore, bigeye, bluefin, skipjack, bonito, and yellowfin/ahi), albacore is the fattest, but the belly cut (toro) is the fattest of all tuna. King salmon is high in fat compared to Atlantic salmon, coho and sockeye. Blue mackerel, halibut, anchovy, pompano, black cod, lake trout, whitefish and amberjack also contain respectable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Fishmongers strive to offer a wide choice to their customers, but some fish are seasonal and only available at certain times of the year. Be flexible with your seafood choice: call ahead for availability. Wherever you shop, you need to establish a relationship with your supplier. A good fishmonger will steer you away from overfished seafood and towards the freshest and most convenient products. If the clerks can’t answer your questions, go elsewhere.

The biggest mistake home cooks make is overcooking fish until it is dry and chewy. Some fish, such as tuna, halibut and salmon, benefit from undercooking. Learn to use an instant-read thermometer on burgers or thick fillets or whole fish and cook no higher than 125 to 130 degrees F. For thinner fillets, use a fork to separate the flesh. If it appears opaque or white albumen appears on the fish, it is completely cooked. Develop your expertise in preparing fish and you’re sure to gain the good graces of any chef you might meet.

Don’t handle seafood too much; it’s delicate. Gently stir in the seasonings. To form burgers, generously wet or oil your hands to prevent the seafood from sticking. When cooking burgers, flip them once; avoid squeezing and expelling juices.

Often these seafood burgers are so tasty that I forgo a bun and serve them on or with a side salad that complements their culture and seasonings. Or I serve them naked with hot sauces, like a Thai dip with lime juice, cilantro, fish sauce and chilies for a tuna burger and a cucumber, cilantro and yogurt salad (raita) for a spicy curry shrimp pancake.

Be creative. Experience. Surprise your family and guests this summer with delicious burgers with the taste of the sea. You will hear the blessed silence of satisfaction.

Quick and Easy Fish Cakes

Leftover plain mashed potatoes are perfect for these cakes. Play with ingredients: leftover grilled and sliced ​​chicken or pork, pieces of prosciutto or cooked black beans or another legume.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups of mixture or ten 1/4 cup cakes

16 oz. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

9 oz. smoked whitefish or 5 ounces cooked salmon in a bag or can

1/3 C. chopped green onions (about 3)

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley and/or 1 tablespoon chopped capers

1 beaten egg

Optional breading:

5 to 6 tablespoons of flour

2 oz. fresh white breadcrumbs, about 1 cup

To sauté:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Set up a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Pour the potatoes into the steamer and steam until tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Pour the potatoes into a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher or fork until slightly lumpy. Let the potatoes cool until just warm.

Break the fish into large flakes. Discard the skin and bones to make about 1 cup of flaked fish. Fold the fish into the hot potatoes. Stir in green onions, parsley and/or capers and 1 tablespoon beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper.

To form cakes: press potato mixture into a dry 1/4 cup measuring cup and level. Pat the fish cake onto a baking sheet. Form the cake with your hands into 3/8-inch-thick by 2-inch cakes. Fishcakes can be sautéed “naked”. Or they can be breaded: pour the remaining egg into a shallow bowl. Pour the flour into a second bowl and the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Dip each fish cake in flour, a little egg and finally press it in breadcrumbs. Press and shape each cake then refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat an 8- to 9-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of butter and oil. When the butter starts to foam, add half of the fish cakes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the cakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Flip the cakes and add 1 teaspoon of butter oil to the pan. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the second batch of cakes.

Place cakes on a serving plate and drizzle with lemon or salsa or place on top of green salad and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Not my mother’s salmon cakes

My mother regularly made salmon cakes for dinner from canned salmon. We children despised them. Use fresh or frozen wild Alaskan salmon fillets for this burger recipe and you’ll have a happy family.

Makes 6 servings

1-1/2 lb skinless salmon fillets, cut into pieces and patted dry

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, optional or 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 C. finely chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons creamy French Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grainy French mustard

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

3/4 t. fine sea salt, or to taste

Olive oil, for cooking

6 burger buns

Toppings like avocado slices, tomatoes, pickled red onions, pickles or sauerkraut

Place the salmon in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, not pureed, about 6 times.

Combine optional yogurt, green onions, dill, mustards, capers, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Incorporate the salmon with a flexible spatula. Taste the mixture and stir in salt or fresh lemon juice to taste. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper pressed onto it. Refrigerate 2 hours. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.)

To prepare the burgers, divide the salmon mixture into 6 portions. Shape each into a pancake. Lightly coat a skillet or cast iron skillet with a small amount of oil; place it over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers in two batches (do not overcrowd the pan), about 2 minutes per side. Crisp the outside and, if desired, heat the inside to warm or cook until the patty is slightly firm.

Serve immediately. Place burgers between buns and top with your choice of toppings. Wrap and refrigerate leftover burgers for up to 1 day; serve cold on a salad or reheat in the microwave.

Naked shrimp patties

Prepare these patties with fresh herbs or herbs of your choice.

Makes 4 servings

1-1/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1-1/2 lb. unpeeled)

1 T. each: finely sliced ​​fresh chives and basil and chopped parsley

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 firm zucchini (1 to 1-1/2 pounds), sliced ​​3/8 inches thick (3-1/2 to 4 cups)

1/2 c. salt

1/2 c. freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)

Garnish: chopped basil and chives

lemon wedges

Cut the shrimp in half crosswise. Puree the finer pieces of tail in a food processor. Pour the puree into a bowl.

Cut remaining shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces. Incorporate the pureed pieces and herbs. Divide the mixture into 4 equal balls with wet or oiled hands. Form each into a patty about 1 inch thick. (You can prepare the patties a few hours in advance and refrigerate them.)

When ready to cook, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Saute zucchini until golden and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Put aside.

Melt the butter (or oil) in another large skillet with a lid. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper over the shrimp patties. Gently place them in the hot butter. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes over medium-high heat, then carefully flip the patties. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook patties until cooked through, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

Stack the zucchini on four warm plates. Arrange the shrimp pancakes on top and decorate with herbs and lemon wedges. Serve.

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