The table as the gravitational center of our lives.

Panko-Crusted Wild Salmon Burgers with Watercress Salad & Miso Dressing

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  -Albert Einstein, German-born patent clerk, scientific visionary, and enviably humble human

On the home stretch into the impending double holiday whammy, I am always looking for ideas that accomplish one of two tasks:  first, ideas that will help me use up all of the random odds and ends hanging out in my fridge and freezer so that I can make room for incoming turkeys; and second, ideas that will keep me on the lighter, healthier side of the eating spectrum, so that I can make room for all of the things that come with the aforementioned incoming turkeys.

This lovely little recipe for salmon burgers would have fit both bills beautifully had I not decided that this miso dressing sounded much better than the one I was trying to use up in the first place, and had I been able to restrain myself and use a normal toaster like a normal person instead of insisting that both butter and mayonnaise get involved with the buns.  Still, this is without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done with salmon, and everybody knows that salmon is one of the healthiest things you can possibly consume.  (Thanks very much to the adorable lady who writes The Curvy Carrot blog for inspiring me.  I’ve changed a few things about the original, but mostly it’s pretty much the same.)

Salmon pairs beautifully with all kinds of Asian flavors, and certainly this recipe is no exception.  Delicious times ten plus infinity.  Definitely give it a try.


For the salmon burgers:

2 cups water

1/2 lemon, washed and sliced into rounds

1/2 small onion, washed, peeled, and sliced into rounds

1 large clove garlic, washed, smashed, and peeled but left whole

8-10 whole black peppercorns

1 8-10 ounce fillet of wild salmon  (NOTE:  Of course you don’t have to use wild salmon, but I really recommend that you do given what’s going on in the world of farmed salmon these days.  For this recipe, I used a beautiful piece of wild Coho salmon that was a deep, beautiful, vibrant shade of orange.  Delicious.)

2/3 cup panko

1 1/2 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

10-12 strands of fresh chive, washed, dried well, and chopped very fine

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

For the dressing:

3 tbsp. white miso

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil

1 1/2 tbsp. neutrally-flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola

1 tbsp. sugar

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, washed, peeled, and minced

For final assembly:

1 cup watercress tips, washed and dried well in a salad spinner

2 brioche hamburger buns, sliced in half and pan-toasted in butter until golden brown, and kept warm

Mayonnaise, as desired


1.  In a medium saucepan, add the water, lemon, onion, garlic, and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and then turn back to a gentle simmer.  Add the salmon fillet, cover, and poach for 5-6 minutes.  Remove salmon fillet and allow to cool on a plate.  Discard poaching liquid.

2.  While salmon is cooling, prepare the dressing.  Combine all dressing ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisk together thoroughly.  Set aside.

3.  Using two forks, flake apart the salmon into small bits and add to a non-reactive mixing bowl.  Discard the salmon skin.  To the flaked salmon, add half of the panko, the mayonnaise, the beaten egg, the soy sauce, and the chopped chives.  Season to taste with kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper.  Using a rubber spatula, gently mix everything until well combined and it begins to hold together.

4.  Place the remaining panko in a wide, shallow bowl.  Form the salmon mixture into two equally-sized patties and gently coat with the panko on all sides.  Place a heavy-bottomed skillet (such as a cast-iron one) on the stove over medium-high heat, and add enough frying oil to form a layer about 1/4″ thick.  (NOTE:  After use, the oil can be strained and re-used for something else.)  When the oil gets nice and hot, test it with a piece of panko.  If you drop it in and it immediately bubbles up and sizzles, the oil is ready.  Gently lay the burgers into the pan, and fry until golden-brown on each side, about 4 minutes on each side.  Gently lift out and drain on paper towels.

5.  Toss the watercress leaves with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat the leaves.  Spread mayonnaise on the buns, and place a salmon patty on each bottom half.  Top patties with the watercress salad and the other bun.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 for you, and 1 for your burger buddy

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5 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Clifford

    I want to go to there.

    Nov 14, 2011 @ 1:28 am

  2. Jo

    Looks delicious. Would love for you to share your pictures with us over at

    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:39 am

  3. admin

    @Jo – I’d be happy to submit some photos. Thanks for asking!

    Dec 14, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  4. The Americaine

    This looks incredible! France really doesn’t have a good burger, but brioche sounds fabulous with these salmon patties. I’m going to have to try these out.

    Dec 14, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

  5. admin

    @The Americaine – Yes, but France has…well…France!

    Dec 14, 2011 @ 9:31 pm