Salmon Burgers


There's something about a good burger that tickles my heart: a warm soft, crusty bun, a nice flavorful patty oozing with juicy goodness and that magical condiment that just brings it all together.  I've never really dappled with fish burgers. I mean I usually correlate a burger with a thick beef patty, the kind that melts in your mouth and makes your stomach smile on the inside but suprsingly, I found true love in a salmon burger this time.

I used this recipe I found through Food and Wine and made a couple modifications -- I made the aioli yogurt based to give it a healthier touch and the results were fantastic. The best part is, you can freeze the left over patties to use for later. Just simply defrost and sear them in a pan or you can even freeze cooked patties to save a little extra time.






Salmon Burgers

Recipe Type: Entree
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound skinless center-cut salmon fillet, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (3 crabs brand)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • ½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
  • 3 hamburger buns, toasted
  • Lettuce, onion, tomato, sliced for burgers
  • avocado ailoi (see recipe below)
  • ——–
  • 2 Hass avocados
  • ⅓ cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 seeded serrano chile or unseeded jalapeño, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a food processor, pulse the chopped salmon about 10 times, or until minced. Scrape the salmon into a bowl. Mix the egg with the fish sauce, tabasco, garlic, shallot, ginger, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the mint, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Add the mixture to the salmon along with 1 cup of bread crumbs. Fold the salmon mixture together with a rubber spatula. With lightly oiled hands, pat the mixture into 4 burgers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add salmon burgers to skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until well browned but barely cooked in the center, about 7 minutes.
  3. Spread the Avocado Aioli on the rolls. Add the salmon burgers, top with lettuce, onion and tomato, close the sandwiches and serve.
  4. Avocado Aioli
  5. In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the avocados with a fork. Fold in the yogurt, basil, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, chile and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

When fish is responsibly farm raised, it's a great way to go as it's a smart option to help deal with our current issues with over-fishing and usually comes at a lower price.  Be sure you do your research to find a good supplier. I used some Cooper River Salmon fillets I still had frozen from the peak of Summer and do feel free to experiment with other types of flaky fish like cod or mahi.

This recipe is also a great heart-healthy option for ones that are watching their cholesterol. Fish are rich in Omega-3 oils that are important for our cardiovascular and brain health and helps lower triglycerides in our blood. Food that tastes good and heals the body? I'm diggin it.

Eat well. Be mindful. Live Happy!


There's something wonderful about Elotes -- the refreshing aromas of lime and cilantro, the smokiness from the slight char, the sweetness of the kernels...it's like this happy awesome party in your mouth and everyone is invited! Now traditionally, Elotesare a staple in Mexican street food -- served on the cob, in a cup, topped with various toppings like chili powder, cheese, butter, sour cream, seasoned salt, lemon pepper...

With corn in season and our garden in full bloom, I wanted to utilize seasonal ingredients with whatever was affluent in our garden -- currently it's lots of chard, carrots, onion and KALE. But we'll get to that in a minute...


Traditional Elotes is usually smothered in generous amounts of butter and mayo (my favorite) but seeing that Summer is right around the corner, I am trying to keep my thighs in check. With that being said, I simply just brushed the corn with melted butter for a slight buttery flavor and let the other flavors be carried out through the fresh lime and spices.


And I got lazy. And didn't want to bug my husband to fire up the grill so I could grill two ears of corn.  So being the good wife that I am, I used the broiler to save him the pain :).


Now what do you do if you made a crap ton of Elotes and now you have a bunch left over?? Never you fret my pet. Why not use them for some healthy lettuce wraps? Since I had Tuscan Kale growing in the garden, I made some "vegan" lettuce wraps and topped it with some creamy avocado chunks. I even tossed in a habanero to the left over mixture to give it a nice kick. Feel free to use any type of lettuce in place of kale.


Eating healthy aint all bad y'all! You can also use your leftovers and use it as a corn salsa or put it on top of a salad or protein. I actually used it as breakfast -- I simply chopped up some kale, tossed it in lime and honey and salt, topped it with a fried egg, avocado slices and corn and VOILA -- breakfast of champions.


This would be a great recipe for Cinco de Mayo this weekend, be sure to share the love! Have a great weekend folks...






DIY Sandwich Bar


It's hard to believe Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. To be honest, I'm not really an avid fan of football but I sure do LOVE the snacks: spicy wings, 7-layer dip, sandwiches and wraps...the commercials aren't half bad either.

One of the biggest challenges I face when I entertain is spending less time in the kitchen and more time with my guests. Give yourself a break and set up stations that allow your guests to prepare their own food, leaving you with the freedom to just sit back, relax, and WAIT, WHAT???  Not have to cook?

I thought this DIY sandwich bar would be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday as all ingredients can be prepped beforehand. I chose kind of a spicy manly sandwich for the occasion but feel free to choose whatever assorted meats, cheeses, veggies you desire. Have fun with it and get those creative juices flowing!  I made things EXTRA interesting by whipping up a SPICY condiment -- Ghost Pepper Mayo.  I found this wonderful Ghost Pepper Salt from a local spice store here in Dallas called Baked Spice they had a crazy selection of spices as well as awesome deals on vanilla beans (if you're a baker you'd go insane).  Be on the lookout if you live in Dallas because Artizone will be delivering their products soon!

DIY Sandwich Bar
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4-6
DIY sandwich bar -- prep the ingredients, sit back and relax!
  • 1 loaf sourdough
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, or 2 cups of fresh greens
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 lemon slice, squeezed
  • pinch of ghost chile salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line large baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. Line bacon slices on baking sheet and place in oven for 15-17 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon. Taste test is required -- take it out when bacon is golden and mostly crispy. Set on plate lined with paper towels to soak up any remaining oils. Set aside.
  2. Lightly butter sourdough slices and toast. Slice pieces of sourdough in half and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile clean and chop lettuce and slice avocados and place into separate bowls.
  4. In a small bowl mix mayo with ghost chile salt and lemon juice. Taste and add more spice if needed.
  5. You may warm up the bacon before serving if preferred. Arrange all ingredients to your liking and invite your guests to dig in. Don't forget the toothpicks!



Soba Noodles with Fried Egg

As this New Year begins, I reflect on the goals I hope to accomplish this year. The certain milestones I should aim for. And improvements and lessons learned from wrong turns and experiences. I plan on renewing my imagination.

Develop a stronger focus.

Reveal a better me, a stronger me, a wiser me.


I want to make cooking easier.

Less daunting.


Because being connected to our food, makes us feel alive.

It allows us to take some time out of our day to enjoy the simpler joys in life.

So let's start this year together.

Let's get back into the kitchen and start with the basics.

Honor ourselves with consciousness and respect.

These soba noodles should do the trick. Buckwheat noodles, fried egg, crunchy carrots and toasted sesame seeds -- what's not to like?


Try it a few times and you'll find your rhythm and before you know it, a healthful, soulful dinner awaits you in just a blink of an eye...


Eat well. Eat consciously. Eat to nourish.


Let's make 2012 a fabulous year together, shall we?


Soba Noodles with Fried Egg
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 2
Buckwheat Noodles tossed in a Soy Lime Sesame dressing with Crunchy Carrots and Fresh Herbs.
  • Handful of buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • small handful of cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tip of a green onion, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 eggs
  1. In a medium pot fill with water and bring to boil. Drop noodles in and cook for 4 minutes at medium heat at a gentle boil.
  2. Rinse carrots and herbs and pat dry. Shred carrot and set aside. Finely chop cilantro and green onion and mix with shredded carrots.
  3. Test to see if noodles are semi firm, if so turn heat off immediately. Allow pasta to further cook in the hot water for an additional 2 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the dressing.
  4. In a bowl combine lime juice, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Whisk well and set aside.
  5. Test noodles for preferred firmness/softness and strain. Return noodles to pot and mix in carrots, herbs and dressing.
  6. ----
  7. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Crack egg(s) carefully into pan and fry until edges are browned and whites are set (sunny side up). Flip over and cook for about 1 minute for over easy, ~ 2 minutes for over medium, ~3 minutes for over hard.
  8. ---
  9. To serve: Place noodles in a bowl and top with fried eggs. Feel free to add a dash of chile powder or chile sauce for an extra punch!


On a side note, I received an unexpected surprise.  As I was reading Food & Wine's Top Chef Magazine I found one of my photos I took of Tre Wilcox in there for the Restaurant Wars article!  Can anyone find something funny about the photo?


Winner gets a prize :)

Texas-Style Chipotle Rubbed Salmon

Before I make your bellies grumble with a Tim Byre's inspired recipe from Smoke, I'd like to take a moment to share with all of you a very exciting project that I've been working on with friends for the past 2 years.  I introduce to you: 1-2 Simple Cooking, a cooking show designed for singles and couples where I teach you the secrets of becoming an efficient home chef.  Our goal is to encourage people to get back in the kitchen and equip them with the confidence and skills to design simple meal plans for the week and ultimately guiding them towards a healthful life.

The reality of smaller spaces and limited ingredients, limited budgets, and limited free time due to busy lives often get in the way of our health and well-being and so we want to find ways to incorporate simple recipes and techniques into our daily routine and take charge of the kitchen opposed to resorting to unhealthy eating choices. Our health is something we are all capable of controlling and we want to spread the good word: you are what you eat!

We are very passionate about bringing this dream and making it into a reality and would love if all of you readers, YES YES YOU, would be willing to take some time to spread the word to your friends and family (via E-mail, twitter, facebook, etc.) to check out our Kickstarter page and if you are able to support us in any way it'd be greatly appreciated. Even a small donation of $5-10 would really help us collectively reach our goal of $6000, we're already at a whopping $1195 after 2 days!!!   I can't put into words how excited I am about this project and I hope together we can make this show a success.




Back when I interviewed Tim Byres for Sunday Brunch at Crave DFW   I knew I landed some place special.  It was this beautiful space filled with a smokey woodsy aroma, where you feel like you've been transported to your Texan grandpa's lounge (doesn't everyone have one of those?) --  equipped with a pool table, a large sexy wooden bar stocked with house-made whiskeys, and family portraits hung randomly throughout the walls.  It's what being part of Texas is all about: the perfectly smoked BBQ, breads, relishes, sausages from scratch; Byres even orders a whole fresh pig every Wednesday but you better be quick or you'll miss it by Saturday.  Upon eating his infamous Smoked Brisket with Corn Bread Hash, I knew there was no turning back: I was in love with Smoke.  He shares a bold and spicy rub which was originally for beef but I replaced it with a beautiful Coho Salmon filet from the lovely folks of Copper River Salmon. 

People of Dallas, you can actually purchase all the ingredients for the sandwich via Artizone .  It's a great online market which has your basic grocery necessities from the top artisan purveyors in the city.  Remember to support your local businesses!

Ingredients for Texas-Style Chipotle Salmon Rub

Created from Tim Byres, Chef and Owner of SMOKE Restaurant in Dallas, TX

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons dark-roasted coffee grounds, finely ground
  • 2 ½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated dry garlic
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/3 cup Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce


Combine dark brown sugar, ground coffee, salt, garlic, paprika and oregano in medium bowl.  Add Tabasco chipotle sauce; stir until well mixed.  Makes about 1 cup.  Rub on 1 ½ pounds salmon steak.  Or rub on roasts and ribs.  Refrigerate 20 minutes to marinate before grilling.


This recipe is really easy to put together, 15 minutes from start to finish (not counting marinating time with the rub).  It'd be perfect for a healthy simple dinner or even an afternoon snack.  The best part is, this recipe is heart healthy.  Copper River salmon is full of superior health benefits, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which benefits your heart and brain.  Catch the last of Alaska's best treasure: Copper River Coho Salmon -- with its mild flavor and firm texture it's great even for the pickiest of eaters.  Savor the last bits of Summer (yes it's still Summer in Texas) and serve these sandwiches with a nice cold pitcher of Texas Sweet Tea. 

Ingredients for Open Faced Salmon Sandwiches

  • 8 oz Coho Salmon Fillet rubbed with Texas-Style Chipotle Rub
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 cup organic greens, washed
  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 red onion cut into four 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Brush the salmon fillets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Place on the skillet until cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Lightly toast the bread if preferred over the skillet, about a minute on each side. To assemble the sandwiches, place greens on each slice of bread.  Place generous chunks of salmon on lettuce and top with avocado, onion and mustard sauce.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.