Yesterday at work, I had like 500g of fish off cuts. It’s mostly scraps from when we cut the whole fillets into portions and at first I was struggling to think of what to turn it into for staff meal. In my restaurant, we don’t really buy in anything to cook with anymore and just make use of whatever we can scavenge or whatever old prep is coming off the menu. Typically, we compose staff meals based around a central element. In this case, I had the awesome fish off cuts, typically shunned by most of the entire kitchen because they’re sick of battering and deep frying it and coating it with some sauce served with chips/salad or thinking of what to do with scraps.

The last time I had off cuts, I made a jambalaya x claypot rice (like 16 times removed) dish. I first cooked some rice off with a spicy tomato compote until it was almost done. At this point, I lifted the lid and chucked in some chorizo I fried off, some parsley, cannellini beans, olives and basically whatever I had from leftovers plus the raw fish. Lid back on until the fish was done and it was pretty decent.

However, even though my last fish off cuts meal was a minor success, I didn’t want to just replicate it. So I settled on the idea of making crumbed fish burgers this time round. So I had a decent mix of Blue Eye, Kingfish, Ocean Trout, Barramundi and even some 3 day old prawns which I diced up but left pretty chunky. I didn’t wanna blend it all and completely lose the texture of the fish. However, to help bind everything, I used a touch of rice flour. The seasoning I decided to go along the lines of what a Crumbed Fish Banh Mi might possibly be so some lime, fish sauce, ginger, shallots, pepper, salt, lime leaves and chilli. I then crumbed them in sourdough crumbs and fried them off. For the bun, I used thinly sliced day old sourdough spread with lime aioli. I also made pickled carrots and cucumber with rice vinegar, fish sauce and sugar. Salad leaves got dressed in the pickle mix and of course, a big bowl of chips on the side.

Overall, a decent success. Good enough that I’m considering my options for a real fish burger. I think with fish, it can’t go with tomato sauce and mayo or mustard like a beef burger. In a fish burger, you have the problem of bread being an ingredient. Whilst it’s neutral, it has flavor and gets in the way of mild, delicate tasting fish. In order for the fish to reign, you need flavors to highlight it, so typically, it needs to be light and bright. The first flavor that I thought I could run with was lime and from there, I can take it either to the Golden Triangle or South America. With the former, I’d use fish sauce, sugar, lime, lime leaf, ginger, shallot, eschallot, coriander and chilli. With the latter, I could use lime, parsley, coriander, spanish onions, chilli but I realize the umami hit from the fish sauce would make it stronger.

  • Bun – grilled plain white / sesame
  • Lettuce – iceburg
  • Pickle – “Viet” style carrot/daikon
  • Cucumber
  • Crumbed Fish Patty
  • Sweet Chilli / Lime Mayo

I prefer crumbed fish mostly because a grilled fish patty is either expensive or you might need transglutaminase to hold it together. With this fish burger, I really want to ensure the fish stays in the limelight (kinda literally) so I want bright and bold flavors which is why I’m not trying to turn fish and chips into a burger like McDs version. What I like about that one though, is the very gentle crumb, which is something I’m keen to replicate. I’m not a fan of the cheese but the tartare is fine. However, when you ever eat a Filet O’Fish, it mostly tastes like cheese and tartare. Not what I want.

Of course, if I just ran with say, swordfish/tuna/marlin or something similarly meaty, it would be easy to keep things simpler. However, all these fish are just hella expensive and would be better off somewhere else. Instead, I’d rather focus on using delicate, flaky white fleshed fish that costs less and tastes like dat fish finger steez. Enter the mighty Basa, which I reckon is the perfect fish for this burger. I should probably try this shit out.

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