Each bite of these Asian-style tuna burgers is a flavor explosion. And juicy, succulent tuna is guaranteed. With one surprising trick.
Hallelujah, it’s FRESH albacore tuna season.
Oregon tuna season kicks off in early July when the first fish arrive from the mid-Pacific, and continues well into October. And some years, if the weather is mild, the commercial fleet is still fishing in November.
In Northwest fish markets, you’ll find my favorite tuna cut, the loin–a long strip of varying thickness, following the natural shape of the fish.
The Nose Knows
The best way to discern freshness—the sniff test—isn’t really an option when the fish is behind the seafood counter. So, if you aren’t able to sniff, ask your seafood merchant when and where the fish was caught. And purchase as close to the catch date as possible.
While some tuna populations are healthy and abundant, others are over fished. Whenever possible, choose environmentally conscious pole-and-line caught tuna. With this method, there is very little by-catch.
Pole-and-line caught tuna is usually sustainable. To verify, cross-reference the location of the catch with the latest information from the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch website.
Keeping It Moist
Tuna dries out quickly and loses it’s silken texture when overcooked. Cooking it to medium-rare is a good bet, as is oil-poaching (confit method). For tuna burgers and tuna cakes, which are usually cooked through, retaining moisture is more of a challenge.
For Tuna & Shiitake Mushroom Sliders, I experimented with a method I sometimes use with beef burgers, namely adding grated frozen butter to the burger mixture. It works.
Fresh Albacore Tuna & Shiitake Mushroom Sliders
Each bite of these Asian-style burgers is a flavor explosion. And juicy, succulent tuna is virtually guaranteed with this one easy trick: add grated frozen butter to the mix.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and rough chopped or sliced (½ cup minced)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
8 ounces fresh albacore tuna filet, cut into large dice (1 cup minced)
2 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced or pressed
2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
finely grated zest of 1 lime
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 jalapeno or 2 green Thai chiles, stemmed, ribbed, seeded, and minced (use disposable gloves!)
2 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, grated
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Kikkoman soy sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Spicy Thai Ketchup
sliced yellow onion
- To prepare shiitakes, set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil.
- When oil sizzles when you flick a drop of water on it, add mushrooms, and stir-fry until they soften and release their moisture, about 1 minute.
- Add lime juice, toss, and continuing sautéing until all moisture is evaporated. Remove from heat, cool, and then chill. (If I’m in a rush, scrape the mushrooms out of the pan onto a plate, and pop the plate into the freezer.)
- To prepare tuna, using a processor fitted with the steel blade, mince tuna, along with garlic, ginger, lime zest, salt, and pepper. Remove three-quarters of the minced tuna to a medium mixing bowl, and continue processing remaining tuna to a puree. Remove to mixing bowl.
- Add thoroughly chilled mushrooms to processor workbowl and mince.
- Add mushrooms, chiles, butter, soy sauce, and vinegar to mixing bowl.
- Shape tuna into patties about 3-inch round patties and ¾-inch thick.
- To sauté tuna, add butter and oil to a small nonstick skillet and heat to sizzling.
- Add tuna patties, and cook over medium-high heat for 1-1½ minutes per side. No longer! Patties should be lightly browned on each side.
- To serve, slather bottom buns with Spicy Thai Ketchup. Position tuna burgers on bun bottoms, and then top with onion, arugula, and bun tops.
Makes 4 sliders.
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Albacore Tuna | About Food
- EDF Seafood Selector | EDF
- Pacific Albacore Tuna | NOAA Fish Watch
- What’s the Catch? Is Albacore Tuna Truly Sustainable? | The Independent
Copyright 2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.
I’ve never had a tuna burger before but now I really want to try it! Thanks for the recipe!
These look and sound so delicious! Even my little kids would enjoy these!
Fresh tuna is exorbitantly expensive in land (and mountain) locked Denver but I\\\’ve found a great canned product from Wild Planet that I love; not only does it taste great but they are all about sustainability in their fishing practices. I\\\’ve used their product to make a tuna burger and loved it…can\\\’t wait to try your recipe!
Susan S. Bradley
Barb, thank you. This recipe is specifically calibrated for raw tuna, so canned tuna won’t work (hold together). You might want to try tuna cakes instead, which rely on the addition of bread crumbs with an egg binder.
I love tuna and we get pretty good fresh tuna from Costco. Often we have a small piece leftover. While it wouldn’t be quite the same as your delicious burger, our leftovers are usually quite rare and I’m thinking of trying your burgers with the leftovers. Of course, I could ask my husband to give me a bit of his raw tuna before he grills it, but that might not go over well – unless of course, I promise him a “flavor explosion” 🙂
Susan, I’m so happy to find this recipe – I just received a big bunch of freshly caught tuna steaks from a friend! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try – looks delicious!!
These look incredible Susan! I’ve never thought to make tuna burgers, but wow do they look tempting. We love all fish in our house.
I am not usually a fan of tuna, but this looks worth trying! Yummy!