It’s a funny thing but I know from experience that unappetizing grey shrimp turn a lovely orange color when cooked, but it still amazes me when it happens. What looks like magic, turns out to be science. It’s a little more complicated that this but, simply put, shrimp have carotenoid pigments in their shells and flesh which are released by heat. In fact, they are also released by stomach acid and fat inside of the flamingos that eat them, which is why those birds are various shades of pink in the wild. If you see bright pink flamingos, like in some zoos, someone is probably feeding them a carotenoid-enriched diet. Salmon farmers do the same to create the orange flesh that is naturally found in wild salmon. The great news is that carotenoids offer a lot of health benefits so it's all good.
Isn’t food a kick? I am also amazed by how much I still have to learn about the world around me, even about ingredients I’ve been eating for years.
This month Fish Friday Foodies is being hosted by the very talented Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. She challenged us to create burgers, proper solid "meaty" patties, with the seafood of our choice. My younger daughter is here with us for a long visit and she voted for salmon burgers. I was all for that since salmon has natural oils that would keep a burger from drying out, but I wanted to boost the flavor with the addition of some shrimp.
I’m telling you, these were wonderful. Moist, tender, almost all salmon and shrimp with just one slice of bread and some seasonings. The secret is to process one quarter of your salmon and shrimp till you make a paste. That paste is the “glue” that holds the patties together so you don't need an egg or other binders.
When I was growing up my stepmother used to make something she called salsa rosada or pink sauce for us to dip hardboiled quails’ eggs in. She considered that beach picnic food. Why? I have no idea, but I loved it. Basically salsa rosada is mayo and ketchup with some hot sauce. It goes well with quails’ eggs, boiled shrimp and, of course, spicy salmon shrimp burgers.
For four spicy salmon shrimp burgers:
1 lb or 450g salmon fillet – weight after skinned and bones removed
9 3/4 oz or 275g shrimp – weight after peeling and cleaning
1 slice fresh whole wheat sandwich bread
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 60g)
1 small red chili pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fine sea salt
3-4 green onion tops, minced
For the salsa rosada or spicy mayo
4 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon hot sauce – or more to your taste
To cook and assemble the burgers:
1 tablespoon canola or other light oil for pan-frying
4 hamburger buns
Lay your salmon and shrimp out on a cutting board and season them with salt and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.
Put the slice of bread into your food processor and process until it is large fluffy crumbs.
Add in the onion, chili pepper, mustard powder, cayenne and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.
Pulse until all is well combined.
Cut salmon into two equal pieces. Cut 1/4 of the salmon in small pieces. Cut 1/4 of the shrimp into small pieces.
Add the salmon and shrimp pieces into the food processor. Pulse until you have a thick paste. Tip the mixture from the food processor out into a bowl.
Cut the balance of your salmon and shrimp into small cubes.
Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Cover a plate or platter with cling film. Form four patties by shaping them with wet hands and place them on the covered plate. The cling film makes it easy to remove the patties from the plate because you can lift one side and tip the patty into your hand. My mix weighed almost 800g or 1lb 12oz so each patty was just shy of 200g or 7oz.
Drizzle the oil into your non-stick skillet and cook the patties over a medium hight heat for about seven minutes on one side.
Serve on toasted buns with salsa rosada, lettuce, tomato and onion. The radishes are just for nibbling.