About a decade ago, when I was living in Boston and working as a personal chef, my cooking repertoire was a little different than it is now. Finger food abounded (I was catering a lot of cocktail parties), and
my recipes were heavy on Asian flavors like lemongrass, cilantro and ginger. (My go-to guacamole was "Thai-inspired" and included fish sauce, scallions and the aforementioned lemongrass and ginger. It was actually pretty tasty.)
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As we all do, I've now moved onto a different set of tried-and-true recipes. But recently I revisited my old stomping grounds for one evening and dug out a recipe for tuna burgers that I used to make all the time back in the old days -- both as sliders for cocktail party gigs and as normal, human-sized burgers for dinners with friends. I came across the original recipe in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook called Fresh & Light and fell in love with its clean, fresh flavors. Chopped sushi-grade tuna is mixed with fresh ginger and scallions, molded into patties, pan fried and then topped with cucumber, sprouts and a zippy pickled ginger and wasabi-infused mayonnaise.
I've altered the proportions over the years, upping the wasabi and fresh ginger, and I use a full egg instead of the recommended egg white, as well as regular mayo rather than fat-free. Instead of stopping at medium-rare, I like to cook the burgers just through -- I find that a little bit of heat makes the ginger and scallions really sing. And finally, I serve the tuna burgers on brioche rolls instead of the sesame bagels called for in the original -- they make for a much more delicate burger, and their richness is a nice complement to all the clean, fresh flavors.
Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Ginger Mayonnaise
Adapted from Fresh & Light
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade ahi tuna, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 English cucumber
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 box broccoli or alfalfa sprouts
6 brioche rolls
Wasabi Ginger Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared wasabi
6 tablespoons finely chopped pickled ginger (the pink, sweet kind you get with sushi)
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).