In A Burger to Believe In, Chris Kronner shares his insight on how to make the best burger at home, plus creative side dishes and accompaniments.
In the Bay Area, making good use of Dungeness crab is a must. The original incarnation of the Crab Burger more closely resembled a fish sausage or fish cake, with a smoother, more processed texture. We’ve since worked our way back to something that is more closely aligned with a crab cake, which is less bready and a truer representation of the crab.
The secret ingredient that ties it all together is rockfish. Rockfish is a light and flaky white fish that just so happens to be a top option for sustainability on the West Coast, especially the California coast. In the Crab Burger, rockfish helps round out the texture, differentiating it from a bread-heavy crab cake. The resulting patty falls somewhere between a crab cake and a Filet-O-Fish. Plus, given that a pound of Dungeness crab meat can cost up to forty dollars, blending in rockfish has an economic benefit as well.
You can either deep fry the patty or cook it in a skillet; the former will result in a crispier and juicier final product. If you fry the patties, I recommended chilling them in the freezer until firm, and then frying.
- Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, thinly shave the carrot lengthwise. Put the carrot ribbons in a sealable jar or plastic container.
- Combine the vinegar, coriander seeds, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then pour the hot vinegar mixture over the carrot and let cool. The pickles are ready to eat when cool. Cover and store indefinitely in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Put three of the buns in a food processor and process until they reach a fine, almost sandy texture. Set aside. Remove a third of the crumbs—about 1 cup—and reserve for later. Spread the remaining crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and crunchy, 10 to 15 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t burn them.
- In a large bowl, combine the toasted bun crumbs, untoasted bun crumbs, rockfish, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, fish sauce, and salt and, using your hands, mix well. Gently incorporate the crab.
- Chill in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Divide the crab mixture into four balls. Put a sheet of plastic wrap over a 4-inch ring mold on a cutting board or other hard surface. Put a ball in the middle of the mold and gently press down with the palm of your hand, forming a patty that is 4 inches wide.
- Pop it out with the plastic wrap. Put the patties on a large dish or small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, 30 minutes.
- Before you begin cooking the burgers, get the buns toasting. Slice the buns in half horizontally. Heat a cast-iron skillet or similar surface over medium-low heat. Smear the 2 tablespoons butter on the remaining four buns and place, butter side down, on the hot surface, working in batches if necessary. Toast until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary. You want to do your best to time their completion to the burger cooking.
- While the buns slowly toast, cook the patties. Heat the oil and remaining 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the frozen patties and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.
- Place some pickled carrots, onion, and radish on a bottom bun. Top with the patty, followed by the lettuce and cilantro. Spread 1 tablespoon tartar sauce on the top bun and cap it off. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Reprinted from A Burger to Believe In. Copyright © 2018 by Chris Kronner. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Eric Wolfinger. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.