When the substantial, meaty texture of ahi tuna meets fresh ginger and toasted sesame oil, the result is a succulent, aromatic burger. Sesame vinaigrette flavors the patties themselves as well as the accompanying spinach salad.
Build your own: You can also use yellowfin tuna instead of the ahi suggested here. It will be a lighter color but tastes great. You can use the vinaigrette for other green vegetables, such as broccoli and green beans, and serve them as room-temperature salads.
- Yield: Serves 4
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 slice peeled ginger, cut 1/2 inch thick
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 large shallot
- 1 3/4 pounds ahi tuna, very cold and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons Sesame Vinaigrette
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 4 sesame seed buns
- 4 handfuls baby spinach
To make the vinaigrette:
- Put the garlic and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the mayonnaise, sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and vinegar and process until well blended. Scrape the vinaigrette into a bowl and set aside until needed. Makes about 1/2 cup.
To make the burgers:
- In the same work bowl of the food processor, process the shallot until finely chopped. Add the fish and pulse until roughly chopped.
- Scrape the fish into a large bowl and add the cilantro, the 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper. Gently knead the ingredients together until evenly mixed. Using your hands, shape the fish into 4 evenly sized burgers about 1 inch thick. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as several hours to allow the flavors to develop.
- When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot or build a medium-hot fire in a barbecue. Brush the burgers on both sides with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
- Cook the burgers, turning once or twice, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Take care not to overcook them. They should be rare to medium-rare. To grill the burgers, oil the rack, and cook the burgers, covered, about 5 minutes, turning once.
- As the burgers cook, toast the buns in a toaster oven or under the broiler, about 5 inches from the heat, until lightly toasted. Or toast them on the outer perimeter of the grill rack.
- To build the burgers, in a medium bowl, toss the spinach with half the reserved vinaigrette. Divide the spinach among the bun bottoms. Top with a burger and then spoon a little more vinaigrette on top. Cover with the tops of the buns and serve immediately.