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Chipotle-Ginger Salmon Burgers with Avocado Spread and Cucumber-Onion Relish

This burger recipe was born from necessity, a love of ethnic flavors and my over-productive garden. My husband and I enjoy salmon for its freshness and heart-healthy attributes, however our local supermarket’s salmon burgers always seemed to turn out dry and disappointing. I began to experiment with making my own salmon burgers and quickly discovered that the combination of fresh Asian and Latin flavors was a hit. The cucumber-onion slaw was a later addition that resulted from planting a few too many cucumber plants in the garden one summer. I made cucumber soups and salads and we gave away almost 20 a week. The simple marinade of rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar over cucumbers and onions (inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant) turned out to be a favorite and, when piled on the burgers, added a satisfying crunch and became a permanent fixture.

Ingredients 

4 in English seedless cucumber, grated
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 chipotle chilies in adobo (remove seeds for less heat)
2 Tbsp adobo sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh squeezed, about 1/2 a lime)
2 Tbsp orange juice (fresh squeezed, about 1/2 an orange)
5 Tbsp tamari (soy sauce can be substituted)
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large Haas avocado
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
zest of one lime
1 tsp fresh lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb wild salmon, such as Coho (ask fish monger to remove skin or carefully remove at home)
2 egg whites, separated
1/3 cup ponzu (prepared as part of this recipe)
2 sliced scallions, green and white parts
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
6 whole wheat hamburger buns, sliced, preferable an organic, all natural brand

Instructions 

Preheat a gas grill to medium low.

Prepare the relish by coarsely grating about 4 inches of a seedless English cucumber into a small, non-reactive bowl. Add 1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion, 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Mix relish gently, loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate.

Prepare the chipotle-ginger ponzu by combining the following in a food processor or blender: 1 Tbsp minced ginger, 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (you can remove the seeds for less heat), 2 additional Tbsp adobo sauce from can, 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice, 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice, 5 Tbsp tamari, 2 Tbsp honey and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves. Pulse the food processor several times until the ponzu is well blended. Set aside 1/3 cup of the ponzu to add to the burgers and reserve the remaining sauce for basting.

Prepare the avocado spread by cutting one large Haas avocado in half, removing the seed and scraping the flesh into a small bowl. Add 3 Tbsp of mayonnaise. Zest and juice one lime. Add the zest along with 1 tsp of the lime juice to the bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the avocado and added ingredients to incorporate. The consistency should remain somewhat chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool or refrigerated space.

To make the salmon burgers, remove the skin from 1 1/2 lbs of fresh salmon, preferably a wild-caught species such as Coho (to save time, you can request to have the skin removed at the supermarket). Remove any remaining bones with kitchen or needle-nose pliers. Coarsely chop the salmon in a food processor by pulsing several times. Use a spatula to scrape salmon into a mixing bowl. Into another small bowl separate two egg whites. Discard the egg yolks and shells. Add the egg whites to the bowl along with the 1/3 cup ponzu and mix thoroughly. Trim the ends and thinly slice two scallions (both the white and green portions). Add the scallions and 1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs to the salmon mixture and fold gently to incorporate.

Divide the salmon mixture into 6 equal portions and shape gently into 6 burgers.

When the grill is heated, place the burgers on the grate (preferable a non-stick grate) and brush the tops of the burger with a basting brush using some of the reserved ponzu. Cook the burgers at medium-low heat for approximately 6 minutes per side with the grill cover closed. Baste each side at least twice, preferably about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the burgers from the grill and let rest on a plate.

Separate the whole wheat buns and place cut side down on the grill to toast lightly for about one to two minutes. Keep a close eye on the buns and remove when toasted.

Assemble the burgers by placing one half of a toasted bun on a serving plate, spread a scant tablespoon of the avocado spread on the bun, place the burger on the spread, add about 2 heaping tablespoons of the cucumber-onion relish with excess marinade drained. Finally, spread another tablespoon of avocado spread on the top bun and place it on the burger.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of Sutter Home Chardonnay and your favorite side dishes.

Makes 6 burgers.

Comments 

Ponzu and cucumber-onion relish can be made ahead of time so you can spend more time with your guests. Salmon can also be prepared ahead of time up to the point of coarsely dicing it. All pre-prepared items should be refrigerated.