Fire Up Your Fourth With Grilled Asian Salmon Burgers

By Jo Mancuso (OPB)
July 2, 2016 4 p.m.

The secret to Portlander Diane Morgan's authoritative new "Salmon, Everything You Need to Know + 45 Recipes" is that she never stopped tracking industry changes or cooking with the delectable fish after her first salmon cookbook came out 11 years ago. Morgan has your salmon covered.

In the book's opening global perspective on wild versus farmed salmon, Morgan says "I eat wild to save wild," a privilege of living in the Pacific Northwest. Her confidence-building primer covers shopping (how to decode labels and check for freshness), storage and a range of preparation techniques from scaling and filleting to skin-drying and brining.

Whether you're at a specialty fish shop or a supermarket fish counter, "the best advice is to get to know your fishmonger and ask a lot of questions," says Morgan. In Portland, her fresh-salmon sources include Linda Brand Crab at the Portland Farmers Market (PSU), Flying Fish Company inside Providore Fine Foods, Portland Fish Market, and Newman's Fish Market inside City Market. For this shoot, she bought Alaskan Copper River salmon on sale at New Seasons Market.

The book's recipes are organized by type of preparation: raw and cured, stovetop, oven, grilled – plus  leftovers. Since it's the Fourth of July weekend, we're grilling burgers! This flavor-packed version banishes the blah brown of cooked patties by trading out the beef for vivid salmon ground up in a food processor. When local tomatoes come into season, slip in true-red slices to complement the butter lettuce.


A cautionary grilling note from the James Beard Foundation Awards winner: Salmon’s moist, tender flesh tends to stick, so oil both fish and grill generously.

Asian Salmon Burgers With Green Onion-Soy Mayonnaise

6 servings

Prep: 25 minutes | Ready in: 45 minutes (includes chilling time) | Average

Here is a healthful alternative to traditional beef burgers. Packed with ginger, garlic, green onions and cilantro, these salmon burgers are light and juicy and look gorgeous on a toasted bun smeared with the green onion–soy mayonnaise. The recipe calls for grilling the burgers, but on a rainy or cold day, the patties will brown up beautifully pan-fried in a little oil. However, when the salmon burgers are grilled, they have an added smoky flavor and great-looking grill marks. In the summer, make these for a backyard barbecue. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for a crowd and all the prep can be done ahead.


Serve the burgers with coleslaw, fresh corn on the cob, a summer fruit salad or even a colorful fresh green bean and cherry tomato salad dressed with a vinaigrette. Accompany with a crisp rosé, India pale ale, lemonade or mint iced tea.


Green Onion-Soy Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup [120 ml] mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion, including green tops, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salmon Burgers

  • One 1-1/2-pound [680 grams] salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1-inch [2.5-cm] pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, including 2 inches [5 cm] of green tops, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup [50 grams] cracker meal (packaged, crushed cracker crumbs) or finely crushed saltines
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 6 split hamburger buns, such as Grand Central Bakery brioche buns
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes, optional


  1. For the mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, green onion, soy sauce and lemon juice and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  2. Put the salmon in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, stopping and scraping down the sides of the work bowl once or twice. (Watch carefully, as it's easy to go from chopped salmon to a mashed paste in seconds.) Transfer the salmon to a medium bowl. Add the cilantro, ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt. Using a rubber spatula, mix until well-blended. Stir in the cracker meal and then add the eggs, mixing well.
  3. Divide the salmon mixture into six equal portions. Shape each portion into a patty 1 inch [2.5 cm] thick and place the patties on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before grilling. (The patties can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.)
  4. Meanwhile, prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
  5. When ready to grill, generously oil the grill grate. Brush the patties on both sides with the oil. Place the patties directly over the fire and sear on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and sear on the second side until almost cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Place the buns, cut-side down, on the grill to toast during the last minute of grilling.

Serve the salmon burgers on the toasted buns with the lettuce and flavored mayonnaise.

"To turn the salmon mixture into cocktail food: Roll into meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 325-degree oven until cooked through (about 20 to 25 minutes). Use the flavored mayonnaise as a dipping sauce. Alternatively, tuck each meatball inside a lettuce cup, using a small leaf of butter lettuce lightly smeared with a teaspoon of the mayo." — D.M.

Republished with permission from "Salmon, Everything You Need to Know + 45 Recipes" by Diane Morgan (Chronicle Books, 2016).