Geoffrey Zakarian's Go-To Ingredients For The Best Tuna Burgers

Of all the fish you can turn into a burger, tuna is the most promising. Carved into steaks and kissed by the fire, it takes on the smoky flavors of the grill much like a hamburger patty would. But how should you go about creating this ideal seafood sandwich? 

Lucky for us, we tapped celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, an "Iron Chef America" and "Chopped" alum, from some of his go-to pointers for a tuna burger. First and foremost, Zakarian claims you have to get that classic ahi tuna texture: crisp on the outside and medium rare on the inside. Searing tuna takes some technique and finesse but is simple enough once mastered. After that, it all comes down to the seasoning. For Zakarian, a tuna burger should take a page from Southeast Asian cuisine, incorporating warm ginger, aromatic lemongrass, crunchy scallions, and zingy spicy mayo. Little else is needed besides a toasted bun to complete this perfect tuna burger.  

Make your tuna burger medium rare or be square

So how should you go about bringing this dish to your home kitchen? First, you'll want to handle the tuna sear. For ahi tuna, the idea is that the outside gets a nice crispy crust while the inside stays soft and pink. The main way to accomplish this is with a quick sear on a piping-hot pan. Whether it's cast iron or stainless steel, you need to properly preheat that pan to blistering levels before adding in a bit of oil and your raw tuna steak. From there, you'll only want to sizzle the tuna for 45 seconds on the first side and 90 seconds on the other.  

The other half of the battle is deciding how to incorporate some of the flavors mentioned by Zakarian. You could lightly season your tuna with ground ginger and lemongrass paste before searing, adding those Asian flavors directly to the fish. Or you could go the fresh route and make a ginger, lemongrass, and scallion-punctuated slaw to top off your tuna burgers. Either way, a slather of spicy mayo will help tie all of these delicious flavors together.