Shake Up Your Grilling Game with These Salmon Burgers Peppered with Bacon.
We have a big grilling day coming up—Labor Day—and if you’re looking for something different to serve this year, Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers is a simple grilling recipe that puts a twist into a traditional end-of-summer menu.
Be honest—how many grilled beef burgers have you eaten this summer (show of hands)? I’ve had my share, and while delicious, I’m a bit weary of minced beef between a sesame bun. The summer grilling season, sandwiched between Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September deserves to go out with a bang, so let’s try something that may be a little new.
But hold on, EEEWWWW it’s FISH! To those of you who are a little reluctant to taste anything that swims, let me say these salmon burgers have the same mouth feel as a hamburger, and when placed on our pretzel bun with a zesty mayo dressing and peppered bacon, your mind just might be blown. And a little tip I’ll share with you will remove any hint of the “fishy” taste you don’t like.
To make my Easy Salmon Burgers, which makes four servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
1¼ pounds boneless and skinless salmon fillet
2 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2½ tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
½ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups arugula or salad green of your choice
4 strips peppered bacon
4 pretzel buns
Salt and pepper
Let’s talk a minute about how to select a good piece of salmon. If you're already a pro at this, skip to the next section. The best tip: get to know your fish monger. Like a good butcher, they will know how to recommend the right fish for a recipe and help you select the freshest product. In my city, Starr’s has a great selection of fresh fish flown in from the East and West coasts and a knowledgeable staff will help you select the right cut for your needs. If you’re on your own, however, here’s how to buy salmon.
Look for good color in fillet. Wild salmon will be dark pink, farm-raised a lighter pink, but avoid anything with a blue or gray tint. Wild or farmed fish can be sustainably sourced; watch the packaging and if you have questions, the Marine Stewardship Council publishes guides to help navigate these waters.
Use your nose. Fresh fish will smell like the ocean, but shouldn’t have a strong, off-putting fish odor. For sensitive palates, you can neutralize salmon even more by soaking it in milk for 20 minutes. Just drain and pat it dry before preparing.
Firm texture. Salmon flesh should be firm.
When buying frozen fish, avoid anything with visible ice crystals or frost and discoloration. You always want to be “in the pink.”
Fillets come from the side of a salmon and there are five parts to a side: the belly, loin, top loin, second cut and tail. Again, a good fish monger can help you choose according to your budget and recipe, but since we’re chopping and mincing this salmon, the tail or maybe second cut would work well, the tail having more of a fat content.
Salmon burgers from your grocer’s fresh fish case certainly are available, as are frozen patties, but I’ve not found any so far that have the right “chew” for me. They either are mushy or too dense giving the burger a processed texture. This recipe, as Goldilocks might say, is just right for a salmon burger because it’s a combination of processed and chopped salmon.
Directions for Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers
Cut ¾ of the salmon into ¼-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Cut the rest into chunks (any size is fine) and add to a food processor with the mustard, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon cayenne. Pulse to make a paste and add this mixture to the bowl of diced salmon, add panko and gently mix until just combined.
Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil. Divide the salmon into four mounds. With damp hands, form into ¾ inch thick patties, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so they firm up.
While the salmon chills out, make the sauce for burgers. In a bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon cayenne and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Heat a large skillet to medium-high and cook bacon until well done. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess fat.
Wash and dry the arugula.
To grill the salmon burgers, first be sure the grate is clean. The best way to do this is preheat the grill to medium-high (about 350 degrees) with the grate in place. It’s easier to scrape the grill’s grate when pre-heated. Lightly oil the cleaned grates.
Place the chilled burgers on the grill and cook for 4 minutes per side. If the burgers stick when you attempt flipping, let them cook for an extra minute or two before turning. Remove from grill, placing them on a clean baking sheet and allow to rest while you prepare the buns.
If you prefer a toasted bun, do that before you spread each side with the mayonnaise dressing. Fold a strip of bacon in half and place on bottom bun. Add the salmon burger and arugula and top with the dressed bun.
And there you have it! A different twist to your Labor Day cookout. By the way, did you know barbecues were common civic celebrations in the late 19th century? So, when the American labor movement pushed for municipal holidays, a barbecue often was included in the festivities. For example, in 1890, the second year Kansas City, Missouri, celebrated a municipal Labor Day holiday, a parade was followed by a barbecue and fireworks. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.
Whatever your Labor Day plans are this year, I hope you’ll enjoy good food with friends and family. Happy Labor Day, everyone!
Looking for other ideas for your Labor Day cookout? You won't have to fire up a grill for my Easy Barbecued Beef Sliders that are made in a slow cooker. You can be at the pool while the beef slowly cooks in time for dinner. My mom's Mock Filet Mignon recipe is great for the grill and offers a tried-and-true way to use ground beef.
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Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.