On one of my initial interviews to get a position as an Alaskan fishing guide, an early question was, “Do you know how to cook?” My answer was, “I can cook”. Fortunately for me, my mother noticed my interest in cooking at an early age, bought me cook books and encouraged me to try new recipes. My grandma who is a master of cooking wild game and baking incredible bread also inspired me.
There was a reason for the question about my cooking skills. A guide may not need the abilities of a five-star chef, but fishing guides are often asked about how to prepare their catch of the day. As a Kenai River fishing guide, a frequent question I get is; “What is the best way to cook my sockeye (red) or coho (silver) salmon”? I have a few favorites though sometimes my favorite recipe depends on the time of year and how much salmon I’ve eaten to date. I will painfully admit that my wife Stephanie Lesmeister is a far superior chef than I am when it comes to cooking the fresh caught or frozen salmon from the Kenai River. I will make my next few blogs about our family’s favorite recipes and our two favorite brines which we use in preparation for smoking the salmon.
Before I give you a recipe I will say the first couple fish of the year are grilled over charcoal – and occasionally alder – from the yard and cooked medium rare with a light sprinkle of sea salt. That is it! After our initial craving for the rich and simple taste of salmon is satisfied and salmon becomes a regular part of our diet, we start piling on the spices and sauces depending on our mood.
2 pounds of Kenai River sockeye
3/4 cup panko crumbs
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic minced
2 egg whites
3 Tbs soy sauce
Juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs wasabi paste
1 tsp soy sauce
Mix all the ingredients for your salmon burgers in a bowl then make round patties to size. We use Hawaiian rolls for the smaller sized sliders, and brioche buns for magnum burgers. Heat the skillet and add avocado oil to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes per side.
As a bonus, we pre-make and freeze burgers for me to cook for lunch. When I make them for lunch I like to make wraps and add red onions and greens with the wasabi sauce and sometimes unagi sauce.
Stephanie found this recipe in the cookbook, The Alaska From Scratch Cookbook, and we have been eating these delicious burgers ever since.