Asian-Inspired Tuna Burgers with Pickled Onions, Soy-Soaked Cucumbers, and Wasabi Mayo

May 26, 2017

 Tuna burgers with pickled onions, cucumbers, and wasabi mayo

Nothing quite beats a fresh from the sea fish burger; salmon, halibut, tuna, they're all delightfully delicious grilled as fillets or chopped up with other fresh and flavorful ingredients and turned into healthful burgers. The following tuna burger recipe is full of bright and delicious Asian-inspired flavors like fresh ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, and wasabi. It's from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Lucy Buffett (sister of the famed singer Jimmy Buffett). Her latest cookbook, Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life, is one you’ll want to cook your way through this summer. Read more about our review of the cookbook and also get her Summer Seafood Gumbo recipe here.

Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright © 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.


"Fishing for tuna is a popular pastime along the Gulf Coast. For a foodie, taking a slice of sashimi tuna straight off the fillet knife that just cleaned the fish and popping it into your mouth while you’re still cruising back to the dock is a peak taste experience. The freshness of the tuna is indescribable. Later, you hopefully have lots of tuna that needs cooking! Don’t miss the chance to grind some up in a food processor for burgers. However, take caution: bacteria can begin to grow in the red meat of the tuna when it gets warm or even room temperature. It is vitally important that you use fresh tuna, that you keep the tuna chilled before you grind it, and that you immediately place the burger patties back into the refrigerator until you are ready to use them." ~Lucy Buffett

1½ pounds sushi-grade tuna
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ egg white, slightly beaten
Organic olive oil cooking spray
4 buns (optional)
Wasabi Mayonnaise (recipe follows), for serving
Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows), for serving
Soy-Soaked Cukes (recipe follows), for serving

1. Pulse the tuna in a food processor until it is the consistency of ground beef.

2. Remove any stringy fat or membrane from the meat.

3. In a large bowl, combine the meat, ginger, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, and egg white and form the mixture into patties.

4. Place the patties on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate for half an hour.

5. Coat a grill pan with olive oil spray. Heat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the patties for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, according to your desired doneness. Serve the burgers on buns—or without buns—spread with wasabi mayo, and top with pickled red onions and soy-soaked cukes.


2 red onions
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Slice the onions very thinly by hand or using a mandoline.

2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Place the onions in the boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and set aside.

3. In the same saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil.

4. Add the onion, salt, and sugar and boil for 1 minute.

5. Remove from the heat and let cool. The onion will be a pretty pink color.

6. Pour the onion slices into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use. The onion will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator.


¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.

2. Add the chili powder and garlic and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid into a 1-quart jar.

3. Add the cucumber slices to the jar, shake, and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.


3 tablespoons dry wasabi powder
1½ tablespoons cold water
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1. Mix the wasabi powder with just enough of the water to form a paste.

2. In a food processor, combine the wasabi paste, mayonnaise, lime juice, soy sauce, and salt. Pulse together until thoroughly combined.

3. Add the cilantro and continue to pulse until thoroughly combined and light green in color.

4. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Get Lucy's Summer Seafood Gumbo recipe here!

Gumbo Love by Lucy Buffett

Author Bio:

Lucy "LuLu" Buffett cooked her way from coast to coast before returning home to Alabama to open a modest little bayside gumbo and burger joint that doubled as a bait shop. Now, she is the successful restaurateur of two locations of LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida, where she serves over a million guests a year. Her adventures-culinary and otherwise-inspired her to write LuLu's Kitchen (formerly self-published as Crazy Sista Cooking), and now Gumbo Love.

Lucy Buffett