Remember the Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip? Well I said I wanted to slather it on salmon so here I am now. I’ve created these Salmon Burgers with Garlic Dill Fries specifically to use the dip on.
The Salmon Burger
There seem to be two types of salmon burgers out there. Type 1 are put together almost like veggie burgers, containing beans or grains along with a filler like panko or breadcrumbs, and flavoring (onions, garlic, herbs, sauces, etc.). This creates a denser burger that looks like a veggie burger: it’s hard to tell from the outside, before you bite into it, that there is salmon in there.
Type 2 sticks to one filling option (usually panko) and uses an egg to help bind the ingredients together. This helps bring the salmon to the forefront. You can tell by looking at it that it’s a salmon burger. There are juices oozing out and the dominant color is pink.
There are pros and cons to each. When you have no access to freshly caught fish, I think Type 1 is the way to go. But when you do have access, I think Type 2 is the winning option. My grandparents, who live in Reedsport/Winchester Bay Oregon, keep us in supply of freshly frozen salmon year round. I’m spoiled and I know it. As you can imagine, I decided on creating a Type 2 salmon burger.
I chose chives, mint, basil, dill, lemon juice, and some sea salt as the flavoring, basically mimicking the ingredients in the Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip. 1/4 cup panko and an egg were added to help bind the ingredients together. You might be tempted to use a food processor to chop the salmon up really small but don’t. This dries it out and makes the burgers more dense. You still want the burgers to have that flakey and juicy quality. One technique that makes cutting the salmon a lot easier is freezing unthawed salmon for 20 minutes before cutting it. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
For the thrifty eater…
Salmon can be expensive. It’s a sad fact of life. But I recently discovered a pretty cool money saving tip when buying salmon.
While collecting and prepping the ingredients for the meal, I wasn’t paying attention to the labels and just saw “Chinook” and thought “YES!” Chinook, or King Salmon, is the largest salmon species and is usually considered the best. This means it’s also the most expensive. But as I cut open the vacuum seal I noticed the word “backs” scrawled next to Chinook. And then I noticed the spine and lack of meat. It looked like I got the scraps. I was a little bummed, but managed to get more meat than I thought.
When I asked my dad about the cut, he said that it was my papa’s new favorite and fast way to cook salmon. All you have to do is drizzle some olive oil on both sides, sprinkle it with some salt and pepper, and grill it for about 2 minutes on each side. You’re then able to flake off the salmon. The best part? Backs are considered to be throw away parts, so you can buy them really cheap, like 5 dollars a pound. And it’s good meat too (like really good). Isn’t that awesome? It’s usually not even on display though so you have to ask the butcher or fish monger if there is any available.
The Garlic Dill Fries
Okay, lets be honest. Fries are a lot of work. I don’t make them from scratch very often. I included the recipe because I really wanted a whole meal built around the flavors from the bright fresh herbs I incorporated in the dip and salmon.
If you want an easy and quick meal, leave the fries out. Just buy your favorite frozen brand. The Mixed Herb and Greek Yogurt Dip takes 10 minutes total to make and the salmon burgers take about 15 minutes of prep and 10 minutes to cook. 35 minutes total. Easy.
The Garlic Dill Fries are really good though. My dad described it like this: “with the feta and yogurt dip served on top it’s like a crispy salad.”
Normally with salmon I drink white wine but with the fries I was feeling the beer option more. Hoppy beers or light bodied ales are a good choice. Go with ones that smell fruity and are bright, fresh, and crisp on the tongue. The acidity and fruitiness of the beer will balance the oil and fattiness of the salmon but not overpower the flavor. I went with what was in my fridge and drank Pliny the Elder (a double IPA) from Russian River Brewing Company. Most the time, it’s my favorite beer, but sometimes Russian River’s Blind Big is better (which would also go great with these-maybe even better as it has a little less bite to it).
Salmon Burgers with Garlic Dill Fries
- 1 egg
- 1.5 to 2 pounds salmon skinned and deboned
- 1/4 cup diced chives
- 2 tablespoons mint chopped
- 2 tablespoons basil chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup panko
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 buns I used halved ciabatta rolls
- sunflower sprouts or other microplane veggie
- 1 avocado thinly sliced
- 1 tomato thinly sliced
- Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip
Garlic Dill Fries
- 4 russet potatoes peeled and cut length-wise and then into 1/4th inch slices or sliced with a mandolin with the julienne blade at 1/4th inch
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/8 teaspoon Mediterranean spice blend
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of cumin
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill + 1/2 tablespoon separated
If your salmon is unthawed, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm it up, making it easier to cut. If using frozen salmon, cut it when it is still cold and firm. Finely chop by hand.
Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the salmon, diced chives, chopped herbs, lemon juice, salt, and panko. Mix until everything is blended. Form into five equal piles. With damp hands, shape the salmon burgers into balls and then flatten them slightly into 1-inch disks (I did rectangles because of the ciabatta rolls).
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan. Add the salmon burgers and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. It might seem like the burgers will fall apart when you put them in the skillet but if you leave them alone as they cook on each side the ingredients will bind together nicely.
Brush the buns you are using with olive oil and broil them until they are toasted. Assemble all the condiments on a plate so people can make their own. Or if you're a control freak assemble all of them yourself: place a sliced tomato on the bottom bun with a little drizzle of the Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip, place the salmon burger on it, and top with slices of avocado, microplane veggies, feta cheese, and a another generous drizzle of the Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip.
Garlic Dill Fries
Peel and cut the ends off and then cut the potatoes lengthwise in 1/4th inch slices. Then cut them into 1/4th inch matchstick slices. Or you can use a mandolin with the julienne blades set to 1/4th inch.
Soak the fries in a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and lay them out on paper towel lined cooling racks to dry, patting them with paper towels as excess moisture continues to seep. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a skillet, heat olive oil until it's hot. Add the crushed garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and sauté for 5 minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic and adjusting the heat as needed. Place a fine mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil into the bowl, catching all the garlic. Add the fries to the garlic infused olive oil and toss to coat. If you like having crunchy bits of garlic in your fries go ahead and put them in too but I think they end up adding a bitter flavor.
Mix all the dry spices together, add to the potatoes and toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon of the chopped dill and toss to coat.
Arrange the fries in a single layer across two baking sheets, making sure they aren't touching each other (I had to do two batches). Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once after 15 minutes. Remove the fries and heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Taste the fries and decide if you want to add more sea salt. I ended up adding 1 teaspoon. Place the fries back in and continue to cook until they are golden, crispy, and the edges are beginning to brown (about 5 minutes). Let cool for a couple of minutes and sprinkle with chopped dill.
Serve freshly out of the oven with some crumbled feta cheese and the Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip.
If you don't make the fries the total time (Mixed Herb Greek Yogurt Dip + Salmon Burgers) is 35 minutes total.
You might be tempted to use a food processor to chop the salmon up really small but don't. This dries it out and makes the burgers more dense.
Make the Mixed Herb and Greek Yogurt Dip first (or better yet, make it on a completely different day to be nice to yourself)
If you follow this order, it will help insure everything finishes up at the same time: (1) Cut the potatoes into fries and soak them in water for 30 minutes. Put the salmon in the freezer for 20 minutes. (2) Prep all the ingredients while the fries soak and the salmon firms up. (3) Once the fries are finished soaking and are drying on paper towel lined cooling racks, finely chop the salmon. (4) Put the fries in the oven. While they're cooking make the salmon burgers and prepare the condiment ingredients. (5) Begin cooking the salmon burgers when the fries are on their last 5 minutes and broil the buns as soon as the fries are out of the oven.