WORKING GIRL DINNER: Rare Japanese Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo and Pickled Ginger

RECIPE: Rare Japanese Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo and Pickled Ginger

I am obsessed with tuna burgers.  They have that whole burger thing going on, with the bun, and the toppings, and the casualness of it all.  I love that familiarity and simplicity.  But I feel so much better after I eat tuna burgers than when I devour a bacon cheeseburger.  And while tuna burgers may seem to be the exclusive domain of restaurants, they are actually even easier to make at home, by far, than the regular beef version.

This tuna burger is home-ground, and flavored with a sprinkle of soy sauce.  I sear it, and serve it on a brioche roll with wasabi mayo, butter lettuce, and pickled ginger.  It’s like a tuna roll on a bun.  I leave the inside nice and rare, but the great thing about tuna burgers is that you can serve them exactly how you like them.  They take five minutes to make, stretch a dollar, and double as both gourmet and comforting.  I promise, these will be entering your regular rotation starting tonight.  (And I’ll be eating them with you!)

Japanese Tuna Burger

Rare Japanese Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayo and Pickled Ginger

Rare Japanese Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo and Pickled Ginger
serves 2

Japanese Tuna BurgerINGREDIENTS

  • 4 slider buns, halved horizontally
  • ¾ pound fresh sushi-grade tuna steak
  • 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • Butter or Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • Pickled ginger


Preheat a large nonstick skillet on high heat, and place the buns, cut-side-down in the pan to lightly toast.  Remove them when they are golden brown.

While the buns are toasting, cut the tuna into chunks.  Put the chunks in a food processor with the soy sauce and a pinch of salt and pulse until the tuna has the same texture as ground beef.  Take the tuna out of the food processor, and form into 4 patties.

Make the wasabi mayonnaise by whisking together the wasabi and the mayonnaise.

Make the burgers.  With the pan on high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan and immediately put the tuna burgers in.  I cook them 30 to 60 seconds on each side, because I like them super rare.  Use a slotted spatula to flip them over.  Take the pan off the heat when you are done cooking the burgers.

Spread some wasabi mayo on each bun.  Top the burger with some lettuce (I forgot it in the video, but you should use it!) and pickled ginger.  Serve with cucumber salad on the side (I toss chunks of cucumbers with soy sauce and sesame seeds).  You’re done!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, Watch, Working Girl Dinners

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

RECIPE: Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole
Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

There is a restaurant in Miami called Mercadito that has the most amazing guacamoles.  There are about seven, in all different flavors.  But my favorite is the chipotle.  The smoky vinegariness is the kind of stuff I dream about, cutting through that fatty avocado.  It just works.

This is my version, spicy, smoky, rich, and delicious.  I usually pair it with hot black beans and stuff ungodly amounts of the stuff into warm corn tortillas.  Extra cilantro never hurts.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.

Click HERE for my coverage of Mercadito.

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole
serves 4

Holy Smokes Chipotle GuacamoleINGREDIENTS

  • 3 Hass avocados
  • 1/8 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 chipotle peppers, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo (from the chipotle can)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated


Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, and use a wooden spoon to mash everything together.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian

Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna

RECIPE: Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna
Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna

Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna

Ras-el-hanout is a traditional Moroccan spice blend, one my great grandfather used to sell in Casablanca long before I was born.  It translates to “head of the shop,” and every shop and household and grandmother has its own version which, in true Moroccan fashion, they all swear is the absolute best, most superior, unsurpassed in heaven or on earth.  Its value stems from the use of sweet spices in a savory application, and it is traditionally used to season couscous.  I, however, have been using it nonstop on seafood, adding it to calamari batter and sprinkling it on fish skin before searing.  There’s an inherent sweetness and savoriness to seafood as well, and the match, well, unsurpassed in heaven or on earth.

With this simple, but special, rare seared tuna, I coat the tuna in ras-el-hanout, and let it marinate for hours, for the spices really penetrate the outer flesh of the fish.  Then, I give it a quick sear, slice it up, and serve it with spicy harissa instead of wasabi, and lemon wedges instead of soy sauce.  It’s like, my French Moroccan interpretation of tuna tataki.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.

Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna
Serves 4

Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare TunaINGREDIENTS

  • 4 4-ounces pieces of fresh tuna
  • 2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Harissa, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Coat the outside of all the tuna with the ras-el-hanot.  Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat a skillet over high heat.  Season the fish with salt, and add the canola oil to the pot.  When the oil just begins to smoke, add the tuna to the pan.  Sear 1 minute on the first side, and 1 minute on the second.  Allow to rest 10 minutes, then slice.  Serve with harissa and lemon wedges on the side.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

Brie and Avocado Eggrolls

RECIPE: Brie and Avocado Eggrolls
Brie and Avocado Eggrolls

Brie and Avocado Eggrolls

I’m about to board a plane for London, where I currently live, thinking about things that go together in unlikely circumstances.  My mother always says that when two things find each other that go together well, they should never be apart.  True to her command, I live in London because that is where my heart is, but it is a VERY unlikely circumstance.

My mother would similarly advise that brie and avocado shouldn’t be apart.  Whatever it takes, they must be together.  Mild in flavor, richer than Richie Rich, they are two sides of the same buttery coin.  Together they form this simple gooey mess that manages to feel light and fresh.  Deceiving, but delicious, and I’ll take it.

Wrapping brie and avocado together in an eggroll blanket, and deep frying them, may appear to be an unlikely circumstance, but once you see the way the brie and the avocado melt into each other in the hot oil, in contrast to that crisp, crackling, salty eggroll shell, you’ll know I’m on to something.  A touch of freshness comes from the lemon and parsley.  The inside is steaming and hot and oozing and bright, and satisfying in a way that only a grilled cheese meeting guacamole can be.  My mom was so right.  Things that go together this well should never, ever be apart.

Excerpted from my weekly column Franglais on The Huffington Post.

As featured in FrenchEntrée’s 100 French recipes to celebrate 100 issues of FrenchEntrée magazine

Brie and Avocado Eggrolls
makes 8

Brie and Avocado EggrollsINGREDIENTS

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 Hass avocado, sliced
  • 7 ounces of brie, sliced
  • ⅓ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 8 eggroll wrappers
  • Lemon
  • Salt


Fill a cast iron skillet with 1 inch of oil, and heat it to 360°F.

While the oil comes up to temperature, assemble the eggrolls.  Divide the avocado, brie, and parsley among the 8 eggroll wrappers.  Spritz the contents with fresh lemon juice and season with salt.  Dip your finger in water, and dampen the eggs of the eggroll wrapper.  Roll up the eggrolls, pinching to seal the edges.

Fry the eggrolls for 2 minutes, turning once.  Drain on a paper towel, and season with salt.  Eat hot.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, Franglais, Individual, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian

The Secret Ingredient (Chipotle) Part 2: Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs

RECIPE: Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs
Chipotle Oven Ribs

Chipotle Oven Ribs

Ribs. When I think about them, my eyes roll back, and my mouth starts to water. The way the meat falls off the bone; so sweet, so savory, so smoky. Few things are as simple but complex as the well-cooked rib.

So discovering that I can make ribs at home was a revelation. It’s a simple technique. Marinating, followed by a couple of hours covered in a low oven, and then just a few more minutes uncovered to get those burnt edges. And they are tender, and delicious, and you made them all yourself without so much as a barbecue.

Chipotles are the perfect secret ingredient in the ultimate rib barbecue sauce because they themselves are already smoky. So, if you love the smoky flavor of barbecue, but want to make ribs in your kitchen, this is the recipe for you. I make a simple barbecue sauce from ketchup, onions, garlic, chipotles, and the adobo sauce in which they are packed. When you first taste the sauce, it’ll seem far too hot. But after the ribs soak in it overnight, and once the sauce roasts and cooks down, it is only mildly hot, smoky, tangy, sticky. The meat falls off the bone. The edges are black and crisp. This recipe is a keeper.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Smoky Chipotle BBQ Oven Ribs
serves 4

Chipotle Oven RibsINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 14 ounces ketchup
  • 7.5 ounces chipotle in adobo
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 pounds baby back ribs, separated
  • Kosher salt


Heat the oil on medium-high, and add the onion and garlic.  Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the ribs, turn heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

Put the ribs and the sauce in a large plastic sealable bag, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Arrange the ribs on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, season with salt, and cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours.  Meanwhile, bring the barbecue sauce to a boil in a pot on the stove.  Boil for 3 minutes, and set aside.

Uncover the ribs, turn them over, and bake an additional 30 minutes.  Brush with barbecue sauce on both sides, and serve hot.

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Categories: Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient

French in a Flash: Soft-Shell Crab Meunière

RECIPE: Soft-Shell Crab Meunière
Soft-Shell Crab Meunière

Soft-Shell Crab Meunière, with brown butter and lemon

Sole Meunière is one of the giants of deliciousness in French cuisine.  I think it’s the dish that Merrill Streep moons over rapturously in Julie and Julia.  And for good reason.  Thin, slightly crisped fillets of sole soaked in lemony brown butter.  What could be better?

Maybe, just maybe, soft-shell crabs can.  When I saw them at the store this week, and thought of how my mom always sautés them up in butter, I wonder if I couldn’t hybrid the two, and prepare the crabs à la Meunière.  Plunged in milk, lightly dredged in flour, seared, and then bathed in that brown butter with just a hint of lemon.  Nothing goes better with seafood than melted butter.  Lemon brown butter is just that bit more special.

I think I might finally have maman trumped!

Soft-Shell Crab Meunière
serves 2 to 4

Soft-Shell Crab MeunièreINGREDIENTS

  • 4 jumbo soft-shell crabs, prepared by your fishmonger
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 5/8-inch slice of lemon
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)


Place the crabs in a bowl of milk.  Season the flour with the salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour.

In a wide skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Place the other two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepot over medium-low heat.  Melt the butter, and then continue to gently cook it until the butter solids turn golden brown.  Add in the lemon slice and remove from the heat.

Place the crabs in the skillet with the butter and sauté until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.  Arrange on a platter, and pour the lemony butter sauce over the crabs.  Garnish with parsley and/or extra lemon wedges.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

The Secret Ingredient (Chipotle) Part 1: Red Hot Chipotle Slaw

RECIPE: Chipotle Slaw
Chipotle Slaw

Chipotle Slaw Tacos

I am having an addiction problem with this slaw. I just can’t get enough.

I’m already a sucker for any kind of Tex-Mex or California slaw. The stuff that’s piled on fish tacos. But this one is smoky, and super spicy. Chipotle peppers, this month’s secret ingredient (I don’t think I’ve EVER been so excited for a secret ingredient), are smoked jalapeños. The way I usually find them, and use them, is packed in a can with adobo, a sauce made from tomatoes, onion, vinegar, paprika, and garlic. The chiles and the sauce are both smoky, deep, rust red, and intensely flavorful. They have that zing from the vinegar in the adobo, the smokiness of the pepper, the richness of paprika and tomato. It’s one-stop shopping.

For this recipe, I took the inspiration of fish taco slaw, and turned up every dial. Starting with purple cabbage, I added fresh cilantro and scallions for freshness and crunch. Lime juice for a tart shot. And most importantly, both fresh jalapeños, and the chipotles with their adobo. The mixture of smoked and fresh chilies make this slaw complexly spicy, and the adobo just makes the whole thing taste south of the border. I serve this slaw instead of cole slaw, piled onto a fish sandwich, or by itself, in warm corn tortillas, as fresh, vegetarian tacos. Delicious.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient at Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Chipotle Slaw
serves 6 to 8


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 chipotle peppers, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo, from the chipotle can
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 6 thin scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeño (about 1)
  • 6 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro


In a very large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle peppers, adobo, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cabbage, scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro, and toss to combine. Either serve right away, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetables