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

Ingredients (16)

Sesame Vinaigrette:

  • 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

Tuna Burgers:

  • 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:

  1. 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:

  1. In the same work bowl of the food processor, process the shallot until finely chopped. Add the fish and pulse until roughly chopped.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.