But as any food freak can tell you, Wednesday is special. Because that day, my friends, is the day the newspaper gods serve up a little midweek treat (pretty much everywhere, see?).
Which is all well and good, with one problem: I cannot bring myself to throw all those food sections away. There are simply too many tasty gems squeezed into each week’s pages to just go tossing them out.
So … I horde them. I stash those folded-up newspaper sections everywhere: shoved into shopping bags, crushed into cookbooks, mushed into magazine files.
It’s truly a miracle that I’m still married.
But come June, everything changes. Just as all that delicious summer produce turns up at the farmers market, my food-section fascination takes a hiatus. That’s because — and food writers, please take note! — I don’t own a grill.
I know I’m not alone. Cities everywhere are crammed with apartment dwellers just like me, making do with with ovens and stoves (and perhaps a trusty George Foreman). While you patio people are outside, grilling up your tasty treats, we’re camped out in our kitchens. Jealous.
Yup, as soon as summer rolls around, you’re hard pressed to find a food writer who doesn’t extoll the virtues of the grill. Grilled meat, grilled fish, grilled veggies, grilled fruit … you name it, someone’s grilled it — and written about it (and as you see this week, We The Eaters is no exception).
It’s not that I don’t enjoy grilled food — I love my food with char marks. When I was a kid, my dad fired up his Kamado almost every weekend. And I spent a year in Australia, where grilling, as we all know, is a way of life. But in my little patio-free apartment, grilling recipes are as useful to me as a sous vide guide.
So for you, the deck-deprived masses, I offer this light and easy summer burger alternative: a ginger-hoisin salmon burger, inspired by Jessica Seinfeld’s recipe in Do It Delicious (yes, that Seinfeld).
And when that summer evening thundershower blows in and sends the grillers scrambling, guess who’s going to be sitting pretty?
Ginger-Hoisin Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo
Makes about four standard burger-sized patties
Note: You can make these burgers with raw or canned salmon. I once wanted nothing to do with the latter, until I tried it (thanks, Julia!) It’s delicious. You can find ocean-friendly brands at Whole Foods and similar markets.
There’s a lot of leeway with this recipe — go light or heavy on the various seasonings to suit your taste, and use as much or little ginger and garlic as you like. Those strong flavors will mellow nicely as the patties set in the fridge.
For the patties:
1/2 to 1 inch of fresh ginger (up to one heaping tablespoon, if you chop it by hand — more if you like)
1 to 2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 small carrots, cut into chunks
1 1/2 pound fresh boneless salmon, cut into chunks
2 small (7.5 oz.) cans salmon, drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying
Throw the first six ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well-blended. If you’re using fresh salmon, add that, as well, as pulse until it’s nicely mixed, but not too fine. Scrape into a bowl.
If you’re using canned salmon, scrape your processed ingredients into a bowl and stir in the salmon.
With either mixture, now stir in the egg.
Shape your patties in whatever size you like and refrigerate (removing them is even easier later if you line your plate with parchment or wax paper).
Heat your oil in a skillet, and cook the patties over medium heat for about four minutes per side. There’s egg in there, so don’t undercook them.
Pop your burger on an english muffin or bun with a dollop of cilantro mayo (or skip the bun altogether).
For the cilantro mayo:
This is pretty unscientific, folks. Chop a small handful of cilantro, by hand or in a mini food processor. Stir in a few tablespoons of mayo until it tastes good.
Serve it all alongside a sautee of snap peas and red pepper strips, sprinkled with a shake of sesame oil.
Grill-free goodness. Yum.