Meaty Tuna Steak Burgers!
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
A wonderfully tasting, easy to make, and healthier alternative for meat and fish lovers alike!
Since I stopped eating meat, one thing I really, really miss is a good beef burger. Not like the thin and floppy fast-food take away burgers you get at Maccy Ds, but you know those exceptionally thick, fat, burgers that are almost too big for the soft, sweet bun they are stuffed in to, and are super meaty with a slightly pink centre? You know the ones. I don't miss meat much, but every now and then, when confronted with a rubbery soy veggie burger, I do miss a good meaty pub/restaurant style burger. Sigh.
As a pescatarian, and seafood lover, I still eat a lot of fish and one of my favourite meals is a grilled tuna steak - I love the meaty texture, subtle flavour and the fact that, just like a regular steak or piece of meat, you can cook it with a slightly pink centre. Mmm. And it got me wondering - could I make a tuna steak burger that would better nurture my cravings for those forsaken beef burgers or even cure them altogether? And almost as soon as that idea popped into my food-consumed brain, I started my quest to create the perfect tuna burger.
Now, don't get me wrong, I know that no matter what you do to a tuna steak, it's never going magically turn into beef burger. The flavour, of course, is completely different and is never going to taste like beef. What I wanted to create here is something that had a better, meatier, yet softer, texture than a regular veggie burger, which I find are either a bit too mushy or too rubbery.
So, instead of hopelessly trying to turn tuna into beef, I decided to celebrate and enhance the subtle, fishy flavour of tuna by incorporating, chilli, red onion, coriander, lime zest, and ginger into these burgers. And let me tell you, they taste amazing! The flavours are not at all overpowering as we only use very small amounts, but they introduce a delicate thai-inspired infusion to the tuna meat which works so well! We also add some Nam Pla, a thai fish sauce, which provides some saltiness and enhances the overall meaty flavour of the tuna. If you cannot get hold of Nam Pla, you could try substituting for soy sauce!
Getting the texture of these burgers right was my main concern. I've made, and eaten, burgers made from tinned-tuna in the past and they were far too mushy and fell apart easily - and not to mention tasted overly fishy! The way forward here is definitely fresh tuna steak! Not only does it have a much more subtle fish flavour which you can only just detect, but it is also much meatier, making for a far more satisfying and structurally sound burger that holds together well and is easy to handle and cook, without having to ingredients like egg to hold to meat together.
For a great, meaty burger that better resembles minced beef and gives you the best of a tuna steak's texture, I also advice against using a food processor and, instead, using a sharp knife to very finely chop the tuna steaks; this way you avoid over-processing the meat and resulting in mushy consistency.
Preparing and Cooking
These burgers are really easy to whip together! After chopping your tune meat, simply mix in a bowl with your other ingredients to combine before shaping the burgers. The mixture holds together really well and is very easy to manipulate. In this recipe I use ginger paste and chilli paste as opposed to fresh ginger and chilli, firstly because it's 10 x easier and I always have tubes in my fridge, but secondly because, along with the mayonnaise the paste helps to form the 'glue' that binds the meat together. If you would prefer to use fresh ingredients, ensure they are very finely chopped so that they better disperse throughout the mixture and add a couple of tsp extra of mayonnaise if you feel like your mixture isn't holding together too well.
After shaping the burgers, cover them and allow them to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour to help firm up and also to allow the flavours to infuse the meat. After chilling, cook the burgers in a hot pan with cooking oil and cook for about 3 minutes each side for a relatively 'rare' burger or 4-5 minutes per side maximum. Be careful not to over cook the burgers as, due to the low fat content of the tuna meat, they can easily become dry. Also take note of how thick your burgers are, smaller but thicker burgers will take longer to cook in the middle! I usually shape mine to be about 1 inch in thickness. Serve in a lightly toasted bun with your choice of garnish - I like to use all or some of the below in my burgers:
Fresh or charred red pepper
Sweet chilli sauce
So there you have it - the perfect tuna burger that will satisfy fish lovers and meat lovers alike! What's more is that these burgers are naturally much healthier than a regular beef burger, with under half the amount of saturated fat but with all the protein!
Meaty Tuna Steak Burgers
Makes: 2 burgers
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chilling: 30 minutes
Cooking: 6-10 minutes per burger
250g tuna steak (1 pack of 2 steaks)
Roughly 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
Roughly 1 tsp finely chopped red onion
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Nam Pla (thai fish sauce)
1 tbsp cooking oil
Using a sharp knife, finely chop tuna steaks and place in a small bowl
Add all other ingredients, apart from the cooking oil which we will use later to fry the burgers, to the bowl and mix gently with a spoon
Using your hands, shape into to equally sized burgers, roughly 1 inch in thickness, by forming into a ball and pressing down between your palms to flatten slightly
Place on a plate and cover with cling film. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Heat cooking oil in a small pan on a moderately high heat
Place burgers into the heated pan and cook for around 3-5 minutes per side, moving slightly every so often to ensure they are not sticking to your pan. The burgers should be browned and golden on each side. The middle of these burgers should be pink. Be careful not to over cook as the burgers will easily dry out! Serve in a lightly toasted bun with your choice of garnish!