There's a good reason for this - huge amounts of salmon are caught in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Visit the fish ladders at the Chittendon Locks in Ballard between July and September, and you can see entire schools of 2'+ salmon making their way upstream. One summer, the salmon harvest was so large the grocery stores were giving them away for free (limit 2, please).
Nearly all of my family now live in the Pacific Northwest, and I have had salmon many, many ways: poached with dill sauce, baked on a cedar plank, stuffed in puff pasty, made into sushi, or grilled and Rubbed with Love. But my favorite is the humble salmon burger.
I have frequently purchased salmon burgers from my local fishmonger. The problem with those burgers however is that they have so much fat that I find myself popping Tums within a few minutes of the completion of my meal...and personally, as a dessert, Tums leave much to be desired. Plus it seems somewhat ironic to consume my entire day's limit of grease eating an allegedly healthy food like fish.
So while my search for the perfect salmon burger doesn't quite rise to the level of a quest (for example my caramel sauce adventure), it has been an interest for quite a while. And I'm proud to say, I think I've found a winner.
This simple and flexible recipe for salmon burgers can be prepared at least two ways: as full-sized burgers, or as mini-burgers for an unusual but memorable appetizer. For a full sized burger, you can use your hands to shape the mixture, or get an inexpensive single-use kitchen tool: a burger press. For the uninitiated, you fill the press with ground meat and then rotate the handle to release a perfectly-shaped burger into your hand. Although this may seem a bit fancy for some (and anathema to people like me who decry single-use kitchen tools) it actually makes some sense: burgers - whether salmon or any other meat - are prepared quickly and without having to pack down the meat, and it's a lot easier to make them all the same size, ensuring even cooking.
To make mini-burgers, use the smallest cookie scoop (about 2 Tbs), and release a flat-sided scoop directly into a non-stick skillet. Saute on both sides, flattening with your spatula to form a mini-burger. By the time it's browned on one side, the fish will be perfectly cooked. I served mine on Triscuits with a bit of chive on each one for color. In the photo below, I used them to make a salmon salad.
So this summer, even if you can't get to the Pacific Northwest - which is beautiful and actually far less rainy in the summer than New England - bring a little bit of Seattle to your grill by making salmon burgers...you're going to LOVE it!
On a weekend that can be focused on grilling, friends and fun, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of the veterans who have sacrificed in ways large and small for our shared country. God bless you on Memorial Day and throughout the year.
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