12 Ways To Take Your Salmon Burgers Up A Notch
When you’re in the mood for something healthy and delicious, it’s hard to beat a good salmon burger. Whether you’re cooking them over the flames of your grill or in a hot skillet on the stovetop, salmon burgers are tasty, filling, and nutritious. Loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and tons of vitamins and minerals, there’s no doubt that eating salmon nourishes us with a wide range of health benefits (via Healthline). And while it’s true that salmon is inherently delicious thanks to its mild and refreshing flavor, there are still plenty of ways to go the extra mile and amp up its taste — especially when it’s in the form of a burger.
The salmon burger’s versatility makes it an ideal vessel for all kinds of culinary accouterments. Rather than simply grilling up your salmon burger and calling it a day, you can easily add a variety of spreads, sauces, and glazes to kick the flavor up a notch. Even just adding some different sautéed or roasted vegetables can vastly improve your salmon burger’s level of deliciousness. So if your salmon burger game is getting a little stale, we have a few tasty tricks up our sleeves to help you out. Read on for some easy ideas on how to give your salmon burgers a much-needed boost.
1. Brighten it up
Incorporating some fresh citrus into the mix is always a good idea when you’re cooking with fish. While a simple squeeze or fresh lime or lemon can work wonders, why not take it a step further and brighten it up with a luscious and creamy citrus-based sauce? With just a few simple ingredients, you can easily whip up a citrusy sauce that’s wildly flavorful and takes your salmon burger to the next level.
All you really need is some diced cilantro, mayonnaise, fresh lime, sour cream, and garlic powder. Add equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream to a bowl and then add the cilantro and garlic powder, plus a few squeezes of lime juice. Mix well and season to taste with a little salt and pepper. If you want it to have a more assertive lime flavor, add some more lime juice along with some lime zest. For a bolder garlic flavor, mix in some fresh garlic paste.
The cilantro adds a delicious layer of herbaceousness, while the lime juice and garlic add their own distinctive brightness. This simple cilantro garlic-lime crema is extremely flavorful and pairs perfectly with a freshly grilled salmon burger. It’s also highly versatile and can be used for a wide range of dishes, complimenting everything from tacos to chicken salad.
2. Add a spicy kick
Introducing a little heat is a surefire way to turn up the flavor on your salmon burger with minimal effort. Of course, heat can take many forms, from chili oil to hot sauce to cayenne pepper, so the question really becomes: What’s the best way to add some spiciness that will truly compliment the flavor profile of a salmon burger? Because fish and tartar sauce go hand-in-hand, we’d recommend whipping up a fresh and zesty batch for your salmon burger — but with a little twist.
A big part of what makes tartar sauce so tasty is the addition of diced dill pickles. The pickles add a pop of flavorful brine that imparts a lovely sour brightness into the mix — but instead of just adding diced dill pickles, try including some chopped pickled jalapeños, too. The vinegary bite of pickled jalapeños packs a punch of flavor that adds a pleasant sparkle of spice to the tartar sauce — and when it’s dolloped on top of a salmon burger, it’s a truly mouthwatering experience.
If you want a little zing without setting your tongue ablaze, you can always just drizzle in some of the pickled jalapeño brine without adding any of the jalapeño peppers. Pickled jalapeño brine is extremely flavorful all on its own and carries some residual spiciness from the pickled jalapeño peppers. Of course, if you happen to dig a solid rush of heat, you can totally swap out the dill pickles in your tartar sauce entirely and replace them with diced pickled jalapeños instead.
3. Add some fruity flavor
Bringing in some fruity flavors is a great way to elevate your salmon burger. The idea of adding some fruitiness to a salmon burger may sound a bit strange at first, but think about it: Mango salsa works wonders on fish tacos. In the same way, mango chutney is an excellent fruit-based spread that can add some extra oomph to your grilled salmon burger.
Mango chutney is a shining example of how balanced flavors can work together to create something magnificently delicious. While the mangos bring their signature sweetness that’s almost buttery and melon-like, the smoked paprika and garlic add a layer of peppery earthiness that works in harmony with the mango. The fresh ginger and maple syrup compliment the fruit, while the red wine vinegar adds an acidic vibrancy that beautifully cuts through the sweetness. What this all adds up to is a concentrated fruity spread that’s sticky and jam-like without being too sugary. When you try spreading some of this on a toasted bun and take your first bite, you’ll be rewarded with a burst of flavor that works perfectly on a chargrilled salmon burger.
4. Add a touch of tasty tanginess
Another flavorful way to enhance your salmon burgers is with pickled red onions. When red onions are raw, they have a fairly mellow flavor that has a subtle sweetness to them. But once red onions are pickled, they transcend their normal flavor profile and transform into something far tastier.
Submerged in a blend of apple cider vinegar, salt, and sugar, the raw bite of red onions takes on a tangier flavor that’s much more complex. The sugar mellows out the sourness of the apple cider vinegar, while the salt injects some briny goodness into the mix. If you really want to knock it out of the park, you can even include some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. Once your salmon burger is grilled and ready on a toasted bun, add a few forkfuls of these pickled red onions as a topping. Tangy with a pleasant punch of sour sweetness, pickled red onions are an easy and healthy way to boost the flavor of your salmon burgers.
5. Add a taste of Louisiana
When it comes to super-flavorful sauces, remoulade might take the cake as one of the best out there. Zesty and creamy, remoulade is a highly complex sauce that has a good amount of bite and heat to it, since it typically features ingredients like horseradish, Cajun seasoning, and anchovies. While it’s commonly used as a dipping sauce for crispy dishes like fried shrimp, french fries, and crab cakes, it can also be used as a condiment for sandwiches. Because it’s so often paired with seafood, it’s the perfect companion for a grilled salmon burger. This sauce’s vibrant taste immediately uplifts the flavor of virtually everything it touches.
This sauce is easy to blend up and requires minimal effort or skill — it’s really just a matter of having the right ingredients. While it’s true that remoulade tends to call for some ingredients that may not necessarily be a staple in your kitchen (like capers and anchovy paste), it’s still totally worth it to gather up everything you need to make this. Remoulade’s flavorful creaminess is also highly versatile, so once you’re done using it on your salmon burgers, it still has a wide variety of different applications. Try it with asparagus, fried pickles, or as a spread for a BLT.
6. Add a garlicky, herby kick
Is there anything that a little chimichurri can’t make better? Typically made with a luscious mix of parsley, lemon juice, fresh garlic, red wine vinegar, and a few other seasonings, chimichurri is blended into a flavorful, chunky sauce that can be drizzled on just about everything under the sun. Grilled steak, fried eggs, roasted potatoes — you name it, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that chimichurri will instantly elevate any dish it comes into contact with — including grilled salmon burgers.
Because salmon on its own has a fairly mild, plain taste, it’s the perfect blank canvas for an herbaceous, garlicky sauce like chimichurri. You have a couple of options here: You can simply drizzle some straight chimichurri sauce over the salmon burger after it’s done cooking, or you could get even more inventive and turn the chimichurri sauce into a thicker spread. By mixing chimichurri into some mayonnaise, the chimichurri will gain a creamy consistency and transform into an aioli that makes it ideal for spreading on burger buns. Not only will this chimichurri aioli rock your socks off on some salmon, but it’ll also work wonders on just about any sandwich you can imagine. Turkey sandwiches, Italian subs, cheesesteaks — the sky’s the limit.
7. Roast some red peppers
Roasted red peppers are healthy, easy to prepare, and highly flavorful. They also happen to pair well with just about everything from pastas to salads to sandwiches. Count salmon burgers in as another dish that roasted red peppers can deliciously compliment.
All you need to do is slice some fresh red bell peppers in half, put them on a sheet pan, and roast them skin side up in the oven. After you take them out and they’re cool enough to handle, gently remove their wrinkled, paper-like exterior skins. Once the skins are peeled, the roasted pepper flesh underneath should be soft and juicy.
The flavor of roasted peppers has a subtle sweetness, but there are also notes of smokiness from being roasted in the oven. That sweet smokiness pairs deliciously with grilled salmon burgers. Not only are roasted red peppers super tasty, but they will also add some vibrant color and appetizing visual appeal to your grilled salmon burger. If you take the time to prepare them, be sure to make some extra so that you can enjoy them in other dishes at home like scrambled eggs and pasta sauces.
8. Use a flavorful glaze
A good glaze has the power to lift just about any dish from mediocrity and give it a flavorful boost. Teriyaki, with its lip-licking sweet and salty combo of flavors, is one of the most popular sauces for a reason. Whether it’s basted over chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, or tofu, teriyaki instantly transfers its luscious flavors to food with ease. Sticky enough to cling to just about any ingredient with its perfect viscosity, teriyaki also has a way of beautifully caramelizing food on the grill, thanks to its sugar content. Typically made with a mix of soy sauce, ginger, mirin, and some sugar or honey, teriyaki is quite simple to make at home and can pair with practically any protein in the kitchen. Using teriyaki as a glaze for your salmon burgers will add a silky, almost nectarous texture that’s bursting with flavorful complexity.
There’s one important thing to keep in mind here. Because teriyaki tends to have a relatively high sugar content, it will caramelize quite quickly. For this reason, it’s best to glaze your salmon burger with teriyaki towards the end of the cooking process to prevent it from burning. There’s a delicate balance here when it comes to timing: On the one hand, you definitely want some level of caramelization — which requires some time. But on the other hand, if you let it cook too long with the glaze, the teriyaki will burn to the point of bitterness. When the salmon burger is cooked and you notice some slight char developing from the teriyaki, it’s time to remove it from the heat.
9. Top with guacamole
Another easy way to give your salmon burgers a boost is with some guacamole. If you need to save some time, you can always use some of the premade stuff at the grocery store — but we’d definitely recommend making your own at home, since all it requires is a handful of ingredients. By simply mashing some fresh avocado with salt, garlic, cilantro, and fresh lime juice, you can have your own batch of homemade guacamole in a matter of minutes. Guacamole pairs beautifully with a grilled salmon burger: The lime juice brings a burst of citrus, while the cilantro adds a pop of freshness. Plus, the natural creaminess of the avocado adds some smooth texture that’s easily spreadable on a bun.
If you take the time to make a batch of fresh guacamole, be sure to make a little extra. Guacamole can do more than just amp up your salmon burger; you can enjoy it in countless ways by adding it to breakfast burritos, chicken sandwiches, tacos, or toast or using it as a dipping sauce for tortilla chips. Delicious and highly adaptable to a wide range of recipes, it’s always a good idea to keep some guacamole on hand in the kitchen.
10. Usher in some umami
Mushrooms are another ingredient that you can utilize to pack your salmon burger with more flavor. Sautéed just a touch of golden brown along the edges, cooked mushrooms are loaded with a rich flavor that can add some incredible depth to your salmon burger. They also have a natural meatiness that can add some heft to the burger without contributing any fat. Beyond their delicious flavor, mushrooms are also highly nutritious and offer plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Cooking mushrooms is also quite easy and doesn’t take too much time. After they’ve been cleaned and cut, simply sauté them in a pan with some olive oil, butter, and a pinch of salt. For an extra dose of flavor, deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir to thoroughly mix it in with the mushrooms, simmering for just a couple of minutes. The balsamic vinegar will add a mouthwatering richness to the mushrooms that’s wildly tasty and deliciously compliments the salmon.
11. Embrace the power of pesto
Pesto is another sauce that’s jammed full of invigorating flavor that can work wonders on a salmon burger. There can be a few variations of this classic sauce, but it’s typically made with a blend of fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and grated parmesan cheese. While you can always mix this up at home for a fresher taste, there are also plenty of jarred pesto sauces at the store that will do the trick too. In this context, we’d recommend taking the time to turn it into a creamy spread for the burger buns instead of just smearing it plain onto your salmon.
As with chimichurri, you can simply mix your pesto with some mayonnaise to turn it into an aioli. Be sure to taste the sauce as you mix it and adjust it accordingly. Pesto is a powerful sauce, so a little goes a long way here. If you want the flavor to be more assertive, just mix in a little more. If you want it to taste a little brighter, add some fresh lemon juice. Turning your pesto into an aioli will allow it to be easily spread on your burger buns to make sure that the flavor is evenly distributed in every bite. The notes of basil, garlic, parmesan cheese will take your salmon burger to the next level.
12. Bake some fresh buns
There’s no doubt that different sauces, glazes, and toppings all make a big impact on the flavor of your salmon burger, but the quality of the bun itself also carries significant importance. There’s not much use in putting effort into improving your salmon burger if it’s just going to end up on some subpar, flavorless bread. Taking the time to bake some fresh ciabatta beforehand will reward you with amazing results that can send the flavor of your salmon burger off into the stratosphere.
Ciabatta has a crispy crust and a soft interior that makes it ideal for soaking up any sauces, glazes, and drippings. It has enough structural integrity to comfortably contain even the most mammoth-sized burgers, and you can load up on plenty of other toppings without risking any messy spillage. It also toasts up beautifully, which will lend some nice textural contrast to the salmon burger.
Instead of baking the ciabatta into a traditional flat loaf, try portioning it into burger-sized buns instead. That way, the shape will suit the burger patty, and you’ll also be able to keep a few extra on hand for different kinds of sandwiches. Of course, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of baking fresh ciabatta buns, you can always head to your favorite local bakery and pick some up. There’s nothing wrong with cutting some corners — as long as it’s still delicious.
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