Food Dude arrives
This week we welcome new columnist Terry Bursey - The Food Dude - writing about all things food.
“Terry, make me the salmon burger thing again for supper!” she ordered, with a flourish. “As you say, m’lady,” I replied. It was a crisp autumn day in a year when I was going through a strange phase. I was beginning to feel guilty for eating or cooking any meat aside from fish.
When a recipe called for ground beef or chicken I would often find myself scratching that part out and writing ‘tuna’ or ‘tofu’ in its place.
Living in St. John’s at the time ensured that I had ample access to both of those ingredients and likewise I wouldn’t face the same curious or often mocking looks I’d get from my fellow baymen if I turned down a perfectly grilled rare steak or a slab of moose roast in favour of a tray of sushi.
I loved meat, of course and as a large young man in his prime who lifted weights three hours a day I needed a lot of protein.
A few fitness articles I had read were praising the use of fish for protein in place of red meats, hailing it as the leanest and most efficient way to feed your tired muscles the nutrients they needed to grow.
Celebrities like Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and Mark Whalburg were eating an excess of five pounds of cod a day to get their buff results. Still...I craved red meat almost constantly.
It was during a particularly irksome craving for a juicy burger that I started trying to brainstorm ways of satisfying myself without the guilt of eating a fellow mammal.
Almost immediately the thought of a nice, pink chunk of barbecued salmon came to mind as a potentially delicious substitute for a beef or moose patty.
That evening I invited a friend of mine over to have supper with me. Aside from our love of food and sense of humour we had little in common. She was a typical baygirl, through and through. Her days from early childhood into her early twenties were spent hunting, fishing, quadding and hiking through the harsh and beautiful Newfoundland countryside. My childhood was mostly spent with my nose in a book and the thought of killing peaceful woodland animals appealed much less to me than killing final bosses in video games.
Still, we were more than great friends despite our differences. We focused more on making each other laugh and eating great food together than we did about her love for slaying animals and my love for slaying virtual dragons.
This night I wanted to put my idea for a salmon burger to the test by having my brutally honest friend critique it. The following recipe is for what she came to call...
The Salmon Burger Thing Ingredients
2 bun-sized cuts of salmon, bones removed.
(For the marinade)
3/4 cup of lemon juice
1 tbsp dried dill (2 tbsp for fresh)
1/4 cup of real maple syrup
2 pinches each of salt and pepper
(For the burger sauce)
1/2 cup of real mayo
2 tbsp of green relish
1 tsp of original BBQ sauce (Toppings/Bun)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Note: While any toppings or buns usually go very well with this sandwich, I recommend using only the above ingredients.
Stab salmon pieces with a fork 6 to 8 times on both sides and let stand in your marinade, flipping after ten minutes for an additional five minutes.
Let the salmon cook on the barbecue for roughly five minutes on both sides, or until the salmon begins to crisp on the surface. Note that thicker salmon cuts could take longer to cook; when in doubt with these thick cuts, microwave for 45 seconds on high or standard settings to cook it the rest of the way through after the skin begins to crisp nicely.
Brushing the salmon with the marinade as it cooks is also a wonderful way to really coat it in flavour and keep the skin from charring.
When the salmon is halfway done, top it with the shredded mozzarella cheese ensuring that it melts decadently over the salmon by the time it’s ready for the bun.
While our salmon is cooking, it’s a great time to also toast the buns and prepare the burger sauce.
In a bowl, blend all sauce ingredients until smooth and spread them evenly onto each side of the bun. Adding the cooked salmon then to the bottom bun, and the tomato and lettuce to the top bun completes this amazing BBQ treat once both halfs are placed together.
Tip: Inserting a steak knife or long skewer down through the top of the burger is a perfect way to hold it all in place for presentation.
When I presented the glorious completed salmon burger to Jessica with a side of hand cut sweet potato fries and a half-cob of buttered corn, she was delighted but immediately asked in typical fashion what was in it.
She seemed excited at all the ingredients as I breathlessly listed them, albeit a bit skeptical about the use of maple, understandably.
We both mowed into our burgers ravenously and at some point during the meal I glanced up to see that she was sharing a picture of it to social media. Always a good sign.
When our plates were cleared and she offered to do the dishes I pretty much knew she thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Jessica hated doing dishes even more than I did and was usually the type to avoid it at all costs. Sorry, Jess.
“Terry, me buddy,” she said. “Next time you come over the house I’m cooking you some of Fadder’s moose burgers if you wants a good meal.”
She did. I ate them. They were delicious. I’ve been eating meat with abandon ever since but (thankfully) I still don’t feel the need to go out in the woods and hunt it down. That’s Jessica’s job.