A good shrimp burger should be first and foremost about the shrimp. Unfortunately, many shrimp burgers are more reminiscent of fish-flavoured rubber patties or over-seasoned bread balls than shrimp.
We set out to develop a recipe for our ideal shrimp burger: moist, chunky yet still cohesive, and with seasoning that complements the sweet shrimp flavour but doesn’t overpower it.
After early testing we decided we needed a combination of finely chopped shrimp to help bind the burgers, as well as some larger, bite-size chunks. We achieved this texture with help from the food processor.
We wanted to use as little binder as possible, to avoid the soggy, mushy results we’d seen in other shrimp burgers that frequently used a combination of mayonnaise, egg, and bread crumbs. We kept the mayonnaise for the much-needed moisture and fat it added but left out the egg and decreased the bread crumbs.
Some minced scallion and parsley, lemon zest, and a touch of cayenne pepper rounded out the flavour of our burgers.
GRILLED SOUTHERN SHRIMP BURGERS
Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Chef’s Note: Be sure to use raw, not cooked, shrimp here. Dry the shrimp thoroughly before processing, or the burgers will be mushy. Handle the burgers gently when shaping and grilling; if overhandled while being shaped, the burgers will be dense and rubbery, and if handled roughly during cooking, they will break apart.
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and patted dry
Pulse bread in food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to small bowl. Do not clean food processor. Combine mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and cayenne in large bowl until uniform.
Pulse shrimp in now-empty food processor until some pieces are finely minced and others are coarsely chopped, about 7 pulses. Add shrimp to mayonnaise mixture and gently fold until just combined. Sprinkle bread crumbs over mixture and gently fold until incorporated.
Scrape shrimp mixture onto small baking sheet, divide into 4 equal portions, and loosely pack each into 1-inch-thick patty. Cover and refrigerate patties for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
‚Äî For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
‚Äî For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Lightly brush tops of burgers with oil, lay them on grill, oiled side down, and lightly brush other side with oil. Cook burgers, without pressing on them, until lightly browned and cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes, flipping them halfway through grilling. Transfer burgers to platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories; 171 calories from fat; 19 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 220 mg cholesterol; 1236 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 24 g protein.