Thai Tuna Burger

It is Fall (ok, tomorrow is Fall). I went apple picking. I bought bourbon. I shot an apple cannon. I wore pants. Fall. I was going to do some super-mega-autumnal-pumpkin-bourbon-apple-omg-fall post, but the entire Internet beat me to it. You know the type. You ask them what they do, and they tell you that they “experience the city”, go to yoga, love $10 green juice, and go nuts for pumpkin spiced lattes. So, no Fall recipe here (yet). Just a Thai tuna burger recipe. It’s not a pumpkin spiced latte, but it’ll do.

This burger is a riff on the classic Thai cucumber relish, ajat dtaeng gwa. Traditionally this refreshing relish is served to help cut through some of the richer or spicier Thai dishes. I used the relish in place of the traditional pickle as a way to balance out the salty fish sauce and spicy Bird’s eye chilies. It definitely isn’t authentic, but neither is Fall in New York City. #lattes

Thai Tuna Burger
Know this: You can use any high-quality tuna here like Ahi, Bluefin, or Albacore. Just no canned stuff (whomp whomp).
Thai Tuna Burgers
By Evan Kalman
Yields 3 to 4 burgers


  • 1/2 hot house cucumber – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Bird’s eye (Thai) chile peppers
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro – chopped
  • 2 tablespoon green onions – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 lb sushi-quality tuna
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh or frozen galanga (or fresh ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • bean sprouts
  • 3-4 hamburger buns


Start by making the relish and mayo. In a small bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions, vinegar, and sugar with a pinch of salt. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, galanga, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.

While the relish is standing, mash the chile peppers and garlic with a mortar and pestle into a paste. Stir in the fish sauce, green onions, cilantro, and lime juice. Move to the side and dice the tuna into small cubes (about 1/8 inch). Add the chile paste to the tuna and toss with your hands until evenly coated.

Add both oils to a cast iron skillet and heat to medium-high. Lightly form 3 or 4 patties and add to the hot skillet. Cook for 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

While the burgers are cooking, toast the buns and drain the pickles.

Split each bun and top with a patty, some bean sprouts, and pickles. Spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of mayo on the top bun and place on top of the burger.

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