I love working with shrimp because they are very accessible, versatile, simple and quick to prepare, high in protein and omega 3s, low in fat, and most importantly… delicious! I always have a bag of peeled and deveined shrimp in my freezer as a quick weeknight dinner option. After defrosting them, I’ll sauté them with garlic and butter and toss them with noodles, stir them into an Asian stir fry, grill them up for taco night, or stir them into gumbo or Cioppino. The list can go on and on!
Shrimp are considered a type of shellfish, but more specifically a crustacean. To fully understand shellfish, you need to know they broken down into two major categories: crustaceans and mollusks.
Crustaceans are sea creatures with a hard, outer segmented shell they occasionally shed such as shrimp, lobsters, crabs, langoustines, crawfish and prawns. Mollusks also have a hard outer shell, but their bodies are soft and blobby, such as snails, abalone, conch, clams, oysters, scallops and mussels. And then there’s cephalopods, another group of mollusks, which have a small internal shell, and include octopus, squid and cuttle fish.
Let’s get back to shrimp, more specifically shrimp burgers. I love a juicy red meat burger, but I also like to lighten things up as the weather gets warmer, which is why shrimp is a great go-to protein for a burger. Shrimp is also pretty neutral in flavor, making it a great template for many flavor profiles. I absolutely love Cajun-Creole food so I went with that flavor profile, but you can easily swap in Asian, Greek, Mexican, Caribbean or Italian flavors.
Like I mentioned earlier, I always purchase frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp for a couple of reasons. Because the shrimp are frozen very soon after they are caught, their freshness has been preserved. And, I really love the convenience of having them already peeled and deveined for me. I find doing this myself is time consuming and tedious, and takes the quick/weeknight element out of the equation.
The key to creating a great shrimp burger texture is to puree half the shrimp and rough chop the other half. Mix the two together, and you have a consistency that holds together with some great mouthfeel!
I add an egg and breadcrumbs for binding, some Old Bay seasoning (I used 1/2 teaspoon), lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keeping the seasonings to a minimum really allows for the sweet flavor of the shrimp to shine through.
Even after adding the breadcrumbs, the mixture will still be soft, but I promise it will hold together. Just use your hands to form the mixture into patties (they don’t need to be prefect!), and place them on a plate or sheet tray lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
When ready to cook your burger, lift the plastic or parchment up and “peel” the burgers off one at a time and place them in the pan. As soon as the burgers start to cook, the shrimp proteins will bind and they will hold together beautifully.
I like to keep my burger garnishes pretty simple, such as the spicy mayo, tomato and avocado, but feel free to get as creative as you like. I served our burgers with roasted potatoes and slaw, which were delicious accompaniments, but you can easily crack open a bag of your favorite potato chips and call it a day.
These are seriously delicious burgers the whole family will love. They are easy and quick to make, healthier than their red meat counterpart, and can even be made ahead of time. Now you have a new and delicious idea for the next time you need some dinner inspiration!
Shrimp Burgers with Spicy Mayo
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 4 burgers
Active time: 40 minutes
Start to finish: 40 minutes
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay or Tony Chachere’s seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Tabasco or Sriracha to taste
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
4 buns, lightly toasted
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
- Place the half the shrimp in a food processor, and processes until pureed. Transfer to a bowl.
- Place the other half of the shrimp in your food processor, and pulse just a few times until coarsely chopped. Add to the bowl.
- Stir in the egg, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice and just enough breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into four equal-sized patties and place on a plastic wrap-lined plate. Set aside in the refrigerator.
- To make the mayo, stir together the mayonnaise and Tabasco or Sriracha, adding more as desired.
- Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the oil. Cook the burgers on the first side until golden brown and crisp. Flip and repeat.
- While the burgers are cooking, spread the mayo on the top and bottom buns.
- Place the burgers on the prepared buns, top with the tomato and avocado, and serve.
Looking for some more yummy way to prepare shellfish? Join me on Saturday, March 13th for our Virtual Trip to Spain class where yours truly will be teaching you how to make Shrimp and Chorizo Paella, and on March 27th we’re hosting an in-person Surf and Turf demonstration class at Lincoln Square where you can watch our chef make lobster thermidor and steak. Take a look at our class calendar for several more classes featuring shellfish this March and April.
Shellfish is this week's challenge in The Chopping Block's private Facebook group so join, make a shellfish dish and share it with other home cooks!