Tuna Burgers with Sesame Aioli

Gingery, super-fresh tuna is formed into patties, then gets a dollop of miso-spiked yuzu kosho aioli, in these dreamy, surprisingly simple burgers. Adapted from Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill, by Justin Smillie and Kitty Greenwald. Copyright © 2015 by Justin Smillie. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Ed Anderson. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Sesame Aioli

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon yuzu kosho, Japanese chile paste; available in Asian markets or online

1/4 teaspoon white miso

1/2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

1 lime

Tuna Burgers

2 pounds bigeye tuna (also known as "ahi"), lean meat only

1-inch piece of ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 lime

1 serrano chile

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, including stems

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Hamburger buns (Martin?s Potato Rolls)

1 heirloom tomato


  1. Light the grill: Place a chimney starter on the grate of a charcoal grill. Add newspaper in the bottom, then fill with charcoal. Light the newspaper, which will light the charcoal. When the charcoal is mature with ashed-over gray embers (about 30-45 minutes later), remove the grill top and place the charcoal underneath.While you're waiting for the charcoal to heat up, prepare the aioli (Step 2).
  2. Sesame aioli: In a mixing bowl, whisk vinegar, egg yolk, yuzu kosho, and miso to a thick paste. Add the honey, then slowly whisk in the sesame oil and the grapeseed oil, a little at a time, alternating between the oils to balance the aioli. Finish by whisking in the zest from 1 lime and the crème fraîche. Set aside. (Sesame aioli will keep in the refrigerator 2-3 days.)
  3. Tuna burgers: Cut the tuna into thin planks, then into strips and chunks. Finish by roughly chopping to a fine dice. (Alternatively, tuna can go in a meat grinder.) Use a Microplane to grate the ginger (with skin), garlic, lime (zest only), and chile (stopping before you get to the seeds); add them to the chopped tuna. Add the cilantro, followed by half of the aioli, and gently mix to combine. Mix until mixture is tight and sticky, about 3–4 minutes. Chill for 35-40 minutes.
  4. Cook the burgers: Roll the chilled tuna into balls, then gently flatten to just under an inch thick, but don't pack them too tightly. Set patties aside as they're formed. When all the patties are ready to go, season with salt and pepper; grill over medium heat until just cooked through, 3–4 minutes per side.
  5. Assemble the burgers: Place each burger onto a bun; top with sesame aioli and a slice of tomato just before serving.
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