Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recipe: Salmon Burgers with Basil and Garam Masala Mayo

You ain't supposed to get salmon when they're swimming upstream to spawn. But if you're hungry, you do. – Loretta Lynn

Basil leaves on top, flavoured mayo and salmon.
I was lucky to get a few minutes to go to the grocery store today. It was my first day back after a week of vacation and, oddly, work was still there. It certainly felt like I was swimming upstream. I suppose I should be thankful – and I am.

Regardless, I usually get a few mental minutes before noon to dream up what to have for dinner. Today I did not. So I went to the grocery with nothing more than a hope to find something cheap, or on sale, or both. That, and an odd craving for fish.

The mixture will be wet. Shaping is easier with wet hands.
As I walked up to the fish display I could see that my wish wasn’t going to be granted easily. The "sale” item was previously frozen haddock – at a whole dollar off regular price per pound. Not much of a deal I would say. And a little unappetizing.

Just as I was about to turn away some small packages caught my eye. They were “salmon trimmings.” Trimmings are what’s leftover from the fish after the in-store fishmonger cuts all those expensive salmon portions for which they charge outrageous prices.

I looked at them and wondered what on earth I could do with “scraps.” The price was right – about $4/lb. Chowder? No… And then I thought of fish cakes, but who wants to boil potatoes before getting down to the real business of making them?

Then it struck me. Salmon “burgers”! You need small pieces of fish anyway, and you can incorporate other things in them for complexity as you wish. I decided to keep it fairly simple. Just green onions (99¢). It was a good choice.

The trick with making patties is to add enough binder to keep them together, but not make them tough. I did the trifecta: egg, bread crumbs and flour. The additions held the fish and green onions together with no crumbling. Success. (I’ve made fresh fish burgers before and they fell apart. One must learn from their mistakes.)

Every good burger needs a good sauce so I opted for a “curry” mayo that had a boost of fresh grated ginger (25¢)  for spicy freshness. To top it all off, basil leaves ($2) with lettuce ($1.27) added another great taste.

The two packages of trimmings I purchased cost me less than $4 and made enough good size burgers to serve 4 people with an additional side dish, or 2 people without.

It’s amazing how creative you can become when you’re trying to squeeze maximum benefit out of your money.

I’ll be making these again. I hope you try them, too. There’s not much you can buy – that’s not on sale – to feed a family for what these "burgers" cost.

Salmon Burgers
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 8-10 min  |  Serves 2-4
for 4 burgers
350 g salmon trimmings
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 bunch green onions, chopped finely
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp cracked black pepper
basil leaves

Garam Masala mayonnaise
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Garam masala
1 tbsp grated ginger, including juice

The basil leaves add a lot of interest to these burgers, as does the mayo.
Take the salmon trimmings and, one by one, squeeze them in your hands to break up the flesh. Leave some bigger chunks in the process. (Alternatively, you could chop the salmon.)

Add the breadcrumbs, egg, green onions, flour, salt and pepper to the salmon. Mix well.

Place some vegetable oil in a  frying pan and heat until a few drops of water sizzle in the pan.

Take a 4” ring (like a large muffin cutter or similar) and press 1/4 of the mixture down into it and out to the edges. (Using wet hands will help greatly with this.) Repeat with remaining salmon.

Fry the patties on both sides until golden brown.

While the burgers are frying mix the mayonnaise with the Garam masala and grated ginger.

To assemble, place some lettuce on half of a bun, top with a salmon burger, then some whole basil leaves and the mayonnaise.


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