Burgers are not about refinement; they are about grease and flavor, and no other fish embodies these concepts better than bluefish. I really don’t know how this lovely fish came to have such a bad rep. It’s wild. It’s chuck full of Omega-3 fatty acids. It doesn’t dry out even if overcooked. And it’s cheap. What more could you possibly ask for!? And did I mention that it makes for the ultimate fish leftovers?
The trick with bluefish burgers (actually, any fish burgers) is pan frying, not grilling -- unless you enjoy bringing fish sacrifices to the grilling gods. All but burgers made of the densest fish (like tuna) will fall right through the grilling rack. Dredging your fish burgers in bread crumbs and frying them is what gives them a bold and crispy outside and makes them such a decadent treat, rather than a pale substitute for a beef burger.
The following recipe askes for bluefish leftovers. Any leftovers will do, but may I suggest that you try bluefish with crispy potatoes? It’s the recipe that converted every single one of my students who thought they hated bluefish. Hmm, am I becoming a bluefish evangelist?
Fish substitutions: you can use leftovers of salmon, red snapper, striped bass, branzino, and pretty much any fish that's not too dense (not tuna, swordfish, or marlin).
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Lb bluefish leftovers
1/4 cup mayo
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1 Tbsp finely minced ginger (optional)
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 clove mashed garlic (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 burger buns
Aioli (or plain old mayo)
Lettuce, thinly sliced red onions, and tomatoes
2 hours before serving or up to 2 days in advance:
- Heat oil in a skillet over moderately low heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are soft and golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes.
- Remove skin from bluefish and break it up into flakes. Mix it with sautéed onions, mayo, mustard, ginger, herbs, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add salt if needed. Form the mixture into 2 burgers, 3/4 inch thick. Place the burgers on a plate (you can stack them between pieces of parchment paper. Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap at least for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Pour the bread crumbs into a plate.
- Set a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot add the oil.
- Dredge both sides of blue fish burgers in crumbs and add them to the pan. Be gentle when handling burgers as they’ll be quite soft. Cook the burgers until they brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip using a spatula, and cook until they brown on the other side, another 4 minutes.
- Serve on toasted burger buns with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and aioli.