How to make Mediterranean tuna burgers
This recipe calls for the best quality cut of tuna you can find, first being Bluefin or Bigeye, and second being Yellowfin or Albacore. Fresh tuna’s appearance to beef is really emphasized when you make “hamburgers” out of it. Like beef burgers, tuna burgers should be cooked rare to medium-rare. Unlike beef burgers, the relatively tasteless tuna burgers are better when infused with strong flavorings. This flavorful dish goes in a Mediterranean direction with the addition of aioli, a garlic mayonnaise. Makes 4 tuna burgers.
Things you’ll need
- spice grinder
- sharp French knife
- cutting board
- large skillet big enough to cook 4 burgers
- large mixing bowl
- wooden spoon
- small mixing bowl
- wide metal spatula
FOR THE AIOLI:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash of lemon juice
FOR THE TUNA BURGERS:
- 2 lbs. tuna steaks or fillets, fresh (if available)
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive oil for coating the skillet
- 4 sesame rolls or English muffins, toasted
- In a food processor, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a whisk, combine all of the ingredients for the aioli. Place in a covered dish in the refrigerator until needed.
- Trim the tuna, removing and discarding all skin, gristle and any dark meat. Chop by hand until tuna is the texture of coarse hamburger meat. Chop it as evenly as possible. Place in the large bowl.
- Grind the fennel seeds in the spice grinder. Add the ground fennel with the thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in the small bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the mustard mixture to the chopped tuna, and blend together well with the wooden spoon. Divide the tuna equally into 4 balls, and gently flatten them into 1-inch patties.
- Heat the skillet over a moderately high heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin film of olive oil. When oil is hot, cook patties about 2 minutes per side, until nice and golden brown on the outside and rare to medium-rare on the inside.
- Remove from the skillet and serve on the toasted sesame rolls or toasted English muffins. Slather the aioli on top of each burger. Serve immediately.
- Always wash the fish under cold water and pat it dry with a towel before beginning to prepare it.
- Never freeze the fish unless absolutely necessary because the quality will never be as good as when it is fresh.
- Serve these burgers as you would with any beef burger, including all of the regular accompaniments like fresh tomatoes, red onions and shredded lettuce.
- These go great with hot French fries and a chilled, crisp Chardonnay or a bottle of dark beer.
- Be sure to purchase only the freshest fish possible. The fish should smell like the ocean air only, not sour or pungent. The flesh should be firm and spring back when pressed.
- Cook the fish as soon as possible after purchasing it. Keep it wrapped in the refrigerator for no more that 2 to 3 days.
- Always wash down the cutting board and working surfaces of your kitchen with a dilution of hot water and a little bleach when you’re finished preparing the fish.
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