Monday, March 26, 2012

Shrimp burgers and social media

Chances are that many of you arrived here via Twitter. This is quite different than last week, where most of my readership was comprised of friends and family. I expected that this transition would take much longer to occur, but Ottawa's foodie and restaurant community have really embraced the blog. A big thank you in particular to Ron Eade from the Ottawa Citizen and the gang at foodieprints.

Now to last night's creation: shrimp burgers. Shrimp burgers are a delicious, healthy burger option that are quite easy to make. Normally when I try out a new recipe that has been fairly well established, I look at 10-15 on the Internet and try to determine what the trends are. Then I can identify what is vital for the recipe, or what can be experimented with. The trouble with shrimp burgers was that there were very different opinions on how to get the right consistency. Do you grind the shrimp raw or pre-cook? Do you need a binder? Grind it to a paste or keep it in chunks?

I used my newly established Twitter account to ask a couple of these questions to Emeril Lagasse, who is a guy I thought would know a thing or two about shrimp burgers. A few years ago you couldn't simply write a guy like Emeril and expect an answer back in ten minutes. Lo, Emeril, your advice was sagely. Those suckers were incredible.

We can pay a bit more now and eat shrimp forever, or pay less now and lose these delicious decapods to overfishing. I buy Ocean Wise certified sustainably raised shrimp from Whalesbone Oyster House's retail shop on Kent and Arlington in Ottawa. If possible, look for sustainably-raised or caught shrimp in your community.

Recipe after the break.
 The Shrimp Burgers

I am only going to give you the recipe for the shrimp patties themselves, and I urge you to experiment as much as possible with different flavours. I topped my burgers with Rivière Rouge cheese, dandelion leaves, fried cubanelle peppers, and my homemade ketchup (which is closer to a smoked tomato chutney), on Art-Is-In twelve grain fennel baguette. 

Shrimp patties

Serves 6
1 1/2 lb shrimp, shelled and de-veined
2/3 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Chances are your shrimp will still be in their shells and with their veins intact. Here is a good video from Epicurious on how to remove these, leaving the meat of your shrimp ready for grinding. Remember to remove the tails as well. You don't have to devein the shrimp; normally this is done because they taste gristly and can ruin the texture of whole shrimp, something you don't have to worry about when grinding. That said, the "vein" of the shrimp is actually their digestive tract, which may be off-putting to your guests. It isn't difficult either. I have no functional use of my left hand and was still able to devein shrimp at about four per minute once I got the hang of it.

  1. Take half the shrimp and the vegetables and pulse with the spices to a fine chop.  Remove and place in a bowl.
  2. Take the other half of the shrimp and grind them to a thick paste in the processor.
  3. Mix the paste with the shrimp and vegetable mixture.
  4. Form into six patties on a plate. They will have a very sticky texture. Place the patties in the fridge for at least half an hour to cool.
  5. Drink a michelada. Relax.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.
  7. Fry the shrimp burgers, about four minutes a side, or until cooked through. There is no inherent fat in the shrimp burger, so ensure that the patties don't stick to the pan.
Rough chop on the left, shrimp awaiting paste-ification on the right.
If you choose to top with dandelion leaves like I did, you can blanch them in hot water for thirty seconds to remove some of their bitterness, but personally I like to keep them raw. You can replace them with arugula if you can't find them in your grocer. Please don't pick them wild as your local dog has probably used them as a bathroom.

Shrimp patty, Rivière Rouge, fried cubanelle peppers, dandelion leaves, homemade ketchup
I served the burgers with a mixed vegetable salad and we drank a bottle of Gazela vinho verde with it, which turned out to be an outstanding match. It is an effervescent, floral wine with a low alcohol content from the Minho region of Portugal that epitomizes "easy drinking." A weissbier would be a nice accompaniment as well.
I'd love to hear how you make shrimp burgers and what you top them with. Together, we can confuse future burger bloggers. Don't be afraid; Mike likes comments too!


  1. Hey Mike, this sounds delicious! Just one question: why not grill them? Which would be better?

    Keep with the good work!

    1. Hi Paul! You can certainly grill them if you'd like. If you are going to, I would plan on lightly dabbing them with olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill. They'll cook up fairly quickly, so it's a good meal to prepare in the morning then toss on the grill when home from work.