Keeping a bag of frozen shrimp on hand is an ingredient strategy I have long relied on, and one which has proved especially useful these days. It’s the ultimate healthy convenience food — a crowd-pleasing, lean protein which thaws quickly, ready to be showcased in a longer list of enticing dishes than even Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba couldn’t possibly rattle off. These plump, flavor-packed burgers show off one of shrimp’s lesser-known assets: When ground, shrimp become sticky and can be formed into a patty without the egg or bread crumbs needed for other fish cakes.
This recipe starts with whirring about half of the shrimp in a food processor with ginger and scallion to form a paste. Then the rest of the shrimp is pulsed into the mixture, just enough to coarsely chop it so, ultimately, plump chunks of shrimp stud the burger. Building on the ginger-scallion flavor base, kimchi is tossed in as well to lend its garlicky funk and touch of heat. Besides providing complex, mouthwatering flavor, the traditional Korean fermented vegetable (found in the refrigerator case in the store) also contributes probiotics, good bacteria, which promote gut health. I typically use the more the commonly found kimchi made with Napa cabbage, but any type you have or that sparks your interest will work. Last, a handful of cilantro is added to the mix for a hit of cool, fresh herbaciousness.
The burgers are simply grilled until a deep brown crust forms on the outside and the juicy bites of shrimp inside are pink. Serve the patties on buns or lettuce leaves with slices of crisp cucumber, buttery avocado and a squirt of ketchup and/or hot sauce. It’s worth noting that although this recipe is a stellar way to make use of frozen shrimp, fresh shrimp from the Gulf are in season now, so snap them up while you can if you see them in the store. Either way, before buying, I recommend checking the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website and app for details on which shrimp are the most sustainable choices.
SHRIMP BURGERS WITH KIMCHI
Active: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes, plus 20 minutes chilling time
Makes: 4 servings
1 pound shelled and deveined raw shrimp, divided
One (3/4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
4 burger buns, toasted (optional)
Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving (optional)
Avocado slices, for serving (optional)
Thinly sliced cucumber, for serving (optional)
Ketchup, for serving (optional)
Sriracha, for serving (optional)
1. Place about half the shrimp, the ginger and the scallions in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the ginger and scallion are finely chopped and the shrimp has become a smooth paste. (You will need to scrape the bowl down with a spatula a few times to get everything evenly incorporated.) Add the remaining shrimp, the cilantro and kimchi and pulse a few times so the shrimp is chopped but still quite chunky. Wet your hands and shape the mixture into four patties, rewetting your hands as necessary; refrigerate for 20 minutes.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of each patty with oil and cook until a deep brown crust has formed outside the burger and the inside is cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.
3. Serve in burger buns or lettuce wraps with sliced avocado, cucumber, ketchup and/or Sriracha, if desired.
Nutrition | Calories: 171; Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 213 mg; Sodium: 255 mg; Carbohydrates: 2 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 30 g.
(Recipe from dietitian and food columnist Ellie Krieger.)