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!

Copper River King Salmon

Out in Alaska runs Copper River whose name derives from the rich copper deposits found along its banks.  It's fed by 12 tributaries, is a mile wide and runs at 7 miles per hour.  Besides being the 10th largest river in the US, it also is home to the best salmon in the world -- flourishing in the "pure positive environment that creates salmon perfection."

This Summer I'll be representing Dallas as one of the Copper River Salmon Fresh Catch Crew Members where I'll be pointing out places I spot CRS through my Facebook Page and Twitter and sharing all the wonderful recipes I'll be making using Copper River Salmon.  My first shipment arrived last week: Copper River King Salmon -- the king of quality, flavor and nutrition.  Prized for its exceptionally high oil content, succulent texture and rich flavor, this luxury fish literally melts in your mouth.


Can ya'll imagine my excitement when he finally arrived ( I think it was a he...)?!!?! I wanted to come up with a recipe that allowed the salmon to shine like a star. With the hot Summer temperatures we've already been having in Texas, I kept in mind of what a good Summer dish entails: light and colorful, with just a hint of acid, and a plus if it's healthy (cuz it's swimsuit season y'all!). Can I have a drum roll please? I present to you: Grilled Copper River Salmon with a Herbed Tri-Pepper Salsa and Fried Green Tomatoes.

I love the versatility and simplicity of this dish.  It can be served warm or cold, it's easy to make and plate (for family dinners or parties) and it's freaking delicious AND healthy!!  I know. Life is good, it's reeeeeaaaal good, like this recipe :)  Don't forget to follow my Facebook Page and Twitter for updates on where I spot Copper River Salmon in the Dallas area!

Despite the fly RUDELY inviting himself into my shot, I thought this turned out to be a pretty cool picture after all.  Can't blame the fly for having good taste in salmon :)

Copper River King Salmon
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6-8
A perfectly grilled Copper River King Salmon fillet served with a Basil Tri-Pepper Salsa and Fried Green Tomatoes. The perfect appetizer for Summer!
  • 2 pounds Copper River King Salmon fillet
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • handful of fennel, chopped
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 pounds green tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. Heat grill and follow salmon cooking instructions located below in "Notes". I used a charcoal grill and cooked a 4" thick 2 pound salmon fillet in about 20-25 minutes over medium heat (NEVER COOK FISH ON HIGH HEAT WHEN GRILLING)
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your tri-pepper salsa. In a large bowl mix the chopped peppers, basil, fennel, lime juice, honey and a pinch of salt together, adjust flavors to your liking. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Next prepare your fried green tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes about 1" to 1 1/2" thick and dust in flour. (I keep scraps and butts as my "test batch" to make sure my oil temp and flavorings are right.) Beat the eggs and milk together until combined. In a large pan mix the cornmeal, Cajun mix and salt thoroughly together. Dip the dusted tomato slices in the egg and milk mixture and then coat generously in the cornmeal mixture. Set pieces aside in a large plate or pan.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels to drain the tomatoes when you fry them. Take a large cast iron skillet and heat vegetable oil over medium high heat, about 4-5 minutes. Using one of your test pieces, drop it into the hot oil and see how long it takes to cook. It should take about 3-4 minutes for a nice golden brown, adjust temperature of heat accordingly. Once oil is ready, line the pan with tomato slices, making sure they do not touch one another. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. When ready to serve, reheat in oven on a wire rack at 400F for 10 minutes.
  5. To serve: You can serve this appetizer in martini dishes or to plate them the way I do simply use a hollowed out can. Break up the salmon fillet into big chunky pieces and layer it on the bottom. Place a slice of fried green tomato on top of the salmon and then spoon the tri-pepper salsa next. Finish off with one more slice of fried green tomato and garnish with fresh basil and herbs. Serve immediately.

How long do I grill salmon? (from

How long you grill salmon (and most fish) is based on the temperature of the fire, the thickness of the fish at its thickest part, and the distance of the grill rack from the heat source. Never let salmon touch the flames on the grill.

Most fish cook quickly. A good rule of thumb is to grill fish for approximately 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness cooking it at 4-inches above the heat source. For grilling salmon, use the following as a guide:

* Salmon Filets: will cook in approximately 4-5 minutes. Do not turn over when grilling. * Salmon Steaks: will cook in approximately 4-7 minutes. Turn once to cook on both sides. You can also sear the outside flesh on a hot grill and finish grilling on medium heat. * Whole Salmon: Cook slow and low. Use the thickness rule stated above.

Again, these grilling times are approximate. Always keep a sharp eye on the salmon to keep it from overcooking. Fish does not hold its heat well so always serve the salmon immediately after grilling.

So, how exactly do I grill salmon?

1. Choose the type of salmon you want to grill (filet, steak or whole). Some recipes require specific types of salmon. 2. Lightly oil the grill rack or two-sided grilling basket by spraying or brushing on olive oil before placing salmon directly on the grill. (There is no need to do this step if you are grilling salmon in an aluminum foil pouch.) 3. Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat (300 and 325 degrees). Grilling salmon on a gas grill is ideal, but if you are using a charcoal grill, remember that the coals are generally ready when they are bright red and all actual flames have subsided. 4. Grill the salmon based on approximate grilling times noted above, making sure no flame touches the fish directly. The finished grilled salmon will flake gently when you part it with a fork and the flesh will feel firm when pressed. Like meat, salmon continues to cook a little bit after it is removed from the grill so it is better to remove it when it looks a tiny bit raw or deeper pink inside. Grilling salmon slowly and steadily over a medium heat will allow the fish to retain most of its own juices. 5. After you grill the salmon, serve it immediately.

Friday Night Dinners

At Mealtime Market, every Friday night Chef Thomas hosts a private dinner for about 8-10 people, reservations only.  The menu, which changes weekly, features a 3 course menu that also includes wine tasting!  At $70 a couple you start off with a choice of appetizers and soup, followed by an exquisitely prepared entrée by chef and ending with an array of sweets designed by yours truly :).

For an appetizer we had a Pan Seared Ahi Tuna served with Micro Greens and a Crisp Sesame Cracker drizzled with a Wasabi Vinaigrette.  I really enjoyed the delicate tuna with the crispness and the fragrance of the toasted sesame seeds on the cracker -- it made a great combination of textures and flavors.

If you are not a fish person you could choose the second option which was a Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup --- ooooh man this soup is delicious!  Being a huge fan of mushrooms I couldn't help but sneak a bowl of this soup.  It was rich and decadent, with a delicate earthiness in every bite.  Also since the weather is cold, nothing soothes the soul like a bowl of warm soup.

It pairs perfectly with some freshly baked bread (which we offer)! Now let's move onto the fun stuff -- the beautiful entrees!

First choice of entree would be -- Pan Seared Salmon served with Braised Spinach, Potato in a Blood Orange Bur Blanc.  The Bur Blanc sauce was rich with bright citrus notes which went perfectly with the tender salmon.  The spinach was braised with a little bit of garlic and olive oil served along side of some fluffy whipped potatoes.

Enticing, no?  The colors were really nice too, the creamy orange sauce contrasted with the blood orange slices made this dish very appealing to the eyes.  The salmon was seared to the perfect tenderness, the delicate flakes of salmon immersed impeccably with the decadent citrus bur blanc -- I would've cleaned the plate but there was another entree that needed to be tasted!

The second entree was my favorite one of the night -- Pan Seared Greek Chicken Breast in a Lemon Cream Sauce with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes Kalamata Olives and Spinach topped with fresh Feta Cheese.  Talk about an amazing flavor combination!

The chicken was cooked perfectly, the meat was juicy and tender and immersed in the amazing lemon sauce that really gave this dish a kick.  Topped with the colorful vegetable medley and the fresh crumbled feta cheese,the only thing you'd be missing was a glass of ouzo and a loud and glorious "OPA!".

I thought the fried lemon slice was a creative twist on using the fruit, it gave the dish a nice rustic appearance (I had to ask chef if it was edible and he said it definitely ... was not :( ) The combinations of colors were beautiful, it was a color explosion on a plate!

I save the best for last of course -- DESSERT! For the dessert trio we had Huckleberry Empanadas with a Huckleberry Vanilla Coulis, a Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Chantilly Cream and Chocolate Shavings and Toasted Spiced Pecans.

I really loved the empanadas, I tucked fresh huckleberries and ricotta cheese into each one.  The result?  An ooey gooey filling paired with the flaky emapanda crust, it was almost like a miniature huckleberry pie!  The smells were absolutely amazing while baking these and the huckleberry vanilla coulis further accentuated the empanada.

Next we had the Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Chantilly Cream -- I love this mousse, it's fluffy and airy yet rich and decadent.  The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate and espresso was calmed by the sweet Chantilly Cream and served alongside some fresh berries and chocolate shavings? MMMM HMMM!

I whipped some up to put in our cases as well, so if any one of you are around the neighborhood you should definitely stop by and visit :) I even took it a step further and added some brownie chunks (From scratch of course!) and folded it into the chocolate espresso mousse.  Oh yeah, that's right -- Bad is my middle name!

Then we had the Toasted Spiced Pecans -- these are always wonderful as a dessert, or ontop of another dessert, or makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack.  I like to add a kick of cayenne since the Pecans have such a high oil content, it kind of wakes up your mouth a bit.

This is usually what I do to any innocent bystanders that I find sound asleep, I simply take out a Sharpie and scribble on their face, but since I am no longer in college and rarely have sleepovers my only options are my pets.  Don't worry, I didn't draw on Lily's face THIS TIME, but next time instead of photoshop it'll be a big BLACK MARKER face :) I kid, I kid! Happy Friday folks, next week I plan on featuring an Indian Feast, Portabello Mushroom Risotto and last but not least...Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes.

(image from

Now I usually don't enter contests and sweepstakes because honestly I never win anything so I save myself the disappointment.  HOWEVER, this contest that I got through FoodBuzz just seemed to good to pass up so here it goes.

"... Foodbuzz has partnered with S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water to provide the opportunity for two Featured Publishers to attend The S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. The Almost Famous Chef Competition gives top culinary students from around the world a chance to showcase their skills to top chefs, culinary experts and media and the opportunity to win cash and a paid apprenticeship with a top chef to jumpstart their career."

Now I am suppose to tell you guys why I'd like to attend.  Well the better question should be WHY WOULD I NOT WANT TO ATTEND??? What could honestly beat eating food artistically crafted by top chefs in NAPA VALLEY? That's right, nothing.  I would spread the word by painting my entire body like the san pellegrino bottle and walk around with a huge sign that says "PICK ME TO GO TO NAPA VALLEY" -- now granted I do not have a professional body painter on hand this will just have to do...

I think if I were chosen to attend I would do a fantastic job of keeping fans posted, a play by play if you will, on this fabulous event through numerous pictures and writing.  Did I also mention that Mealtime Market uses ONLY San Pellegrino to make our Italian Sodas??? That's right we only use the best!

So San Pellegrino and FoodBuzz, pick me, Joy Zhang, to be YOUR guest at the S.Pellegrino Almost Chef Competition, I assure you you won't be disappointed :)