Most of 2021 sucked, I think we can all agree on that.  2021 also gave me a LOT of involuntary free time to make delicious food and come up with my recipes out of sheer boredom, which I am now sharing with you.  On the holidays during the dark times aka the pandemic, I usually did a “fancy” cook just to treat myself (and in this case, my neighbors Mike and PJ) to something a little bit above the norm. For Valentine’s Day 2021, I made these lovely salmon burgers with caper dill aioli.  Here are your ingredients!

  • 1 Lb fresh salmon
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon,
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tsp capers, chopped rough
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 4 sesame hamburger buns
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Before we get into this, I just want to give a big shout-out to my Aerogarden indoor hydroponic garden.  This really made cooking so much better during the infamously craptacular winter of 2021.  Fresh home-grown herbs in February, there is no better joy in life. If you can afford one, I highly recommend it. Warning though, they don’t usually come with rosemary. It’s a bummer, but whatever.  Sacrifices, amirite?

The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, combine 1 Tbsp dill, 1 tsp parsley, zest of 1 lemon, lemon juice, and the mayo in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to your desired level.  Mix well and then put in the refrigerator covered with plastic.  Giving this sauce time to hang out does wonder for its flavor.  

Take the salmon and place the skin side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Salt and pepper rather aggressively. This is optional, but my favorite way to prepare salmon when eating it as the main protein is to cover it in fresh chopped thyme and lemon zest. Try it out, it’s delicious.  For this recipe, salt and pepper are sufficient as there will be lots of flavors added later.  Place the salmon in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.  

Let the salmon rest for 15 minutes or so.  Once it’s done resting and is slightly cooled off, take a fork and flake the salmon into a bowl.  You do not want the skin in this recipe.  Throw it out when done.  Once you’ve completed taking all of the flesh off of the skin, add the rest of the dill, parsley, and lemon zest along with the egg and bread crumbs.  Slap on some gloves and use your hands.  Mix until everything is incorporated, but don’t over-mix. Form into 4 ¼-pound patties, like this!

Keep in mind, these are pretty much fully cooked. There’s no need to try and cook these like a raw hamburger.  You’re really just browning them and warming them through at this point. With that being said, heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and let that get to temperature. Once your oil is hot, cook your patties for about 5-6 minutes per side or until they are nice and golden brown and crispy.  Like this:

Once your patties are done cooking, remove them and let them cool on a rack for about 5 minutes.  You ask why? Well, have you ever put mayo on something super hot?  The bad scene all around.  But also, that’s the time it’ll take to toast your buns in the still-hot pan that I hope you didn’t turn off already.  No need to add anything to the buns, the pan will have enough grease for this. With the bun toasted and the burger slightly cool, take that aioli out of the fridge and apply it to the burger.  All that’s left to do is enjoy!

I hope everyone has enjoyed this recipe.  It’s somewhat healthy, easy, and very, very tasty.  You can’t ask for much more really, especially after all of the candy I ate by myself on Valentine’s Day.  Have a Happy Halloween and see you in November aka SOUP SEASON!

Jay Flanders

Jay Flanders is a native of Newport and avid cook. While he studied at the University of Rhode Island, he also attended the College of Food Network via his television set where he learned the basics of...