How many ways can I love this tuna burger? So far, at least five or six (see the variations). Oh, but did I mention how tasty the master recipe for this crispy burger is, with colorful flecks of celery and red bell pepper, the aroma and tang of lemon and cilantro, a spicy mayo, the velvety avocado layer, all topped with fresh, fresh homemade cucumber pickle? Aside from tasting delicious, what I really love about this meal is the protein punch that it packs, preventing me from nibbling on crackers or chips throughout the evening.

Serves 2


  • 1 English cucumber, peeled
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 10 ounches ahi tuna steak, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp. finely diced celery
  • 3 Tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 hamburger buns, split
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. wasabi powder, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 6 large arugula leaves


Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Slice the cucumber on a mandoline or use a sharp chef's knife to cut into paper-thin slices. Set aside.

Stir together the vinegar, sugar, 1/4 tsp. of the salt, and 2 Tbsp. water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave, stir to dissolve the sugar, and immediately add the cucumber, pushing it down so that all the slices are completely submerged in the liquid. Let the cucumber pickle for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes, then drain and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, celery, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, egg, 1/2 cup of the panko, the lemon juice, the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and the cayenne. Toss the mixture gently with your hands until thoroughly combined. Shape the tuna mixture into two burgers no more than 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Brush the cut sides of the buns with the melted butter. Slip the buns under the broiler and toast until golden, about 1 minute.

Stir together the mayonnaise and wasabi powder in a small bowl until well blended. Taste. The spread may be hot enough for you at this point. If you want more heat, continue to add wasabi powder in small amounts until you get it right. If the powder is lumpy, press it through a small strainer before adding it to the mayo.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup panko onto a plate. Remove the tuna burgers from the fridge and coat with the panko on each side, pressing to adhere.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When it shimmers, add the burgers to the pan and fry until crispy and brown on the first side, about 4 minutes. Turn the burgers and cook until browned on the second side and firm to the touch when pressed lightly with your finger, about 3 minutes longer. If you want your tuna burger a bit more on the rare side, cook it for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second.

Serve the burgers on the toasted buns, spread with the wasabi mayonnaise, and topped with the cucumber pickle, avocado slices, and arugula.

Variations: In place of the pickle and wasabi mayo, try other things atop these burgers, such as Asian slaw, mango salsa, pico de gallo, Major Grey's chutney, bread and butter pickles, chimichurri, cilantro chutney, onion marmalade, et cetera. Many of these additions are available on the grocery store shelf, so all you have to do is open a jar.

From One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two (Chronicle) by Carla Snyder.

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