Emerald City Burgers or Togarashi Tuna Burgers with Namasu and Yuzu-Wasabi Avocado Aioli

Pairs well with:

Sauvignon Blanc

With hints of passion fruit, melon, and citrus, this wine beckons you to kick back and find a perfect porch swing.

Seattle, also known as the Emerald City, has a lot more going for it than brewed espresso and micro-brewed beer.We live in an area with some of the best seafood and produce on the planet; along with a rich multi-cultural heritage. With the strong Pacific Rim influence on the local cuisine, Seattle is a great place to discover new and exciting dishes. One of my favorite discoveries and places to shop is Uwajimaya. Uwajimaya is a huge Asian specialty supermarket providing all manner of Japanese (as well as other Asian) products. In addition, it boasts an incredible fresh fish market as well as an unbelievable selection of fresh produce. These TOGARASHI TUNA BURGERS are my homage to the many ingredients I once found exotic and now have become staples in my cooking: Togarashi, or Japanese 7-spice seasoning, lends an extra depth of flavor to these tuna burgers. Namasu, a Japanese cucumber condiment adds a nice bit of crunch. Rounding out these burgers is the creamy avocado “aioli” with its touch of fiery wasabi and tangy yuzu juice.


1 small Japanese cucumber, partially peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Yuzu-Wasabi Avocado Aioli:
1 ripe California Avocado
3 teaspoons fresh yuzu juice
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie) or Miracle Whip
2 pounds boneless, skinless yellowfin tuna, finely chopped
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated yuzu or lemon zest
4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon togarashi (Japanese 7-spice seasoning)
2 teaspoons sea salt
Vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 sesame seed rolls, split
1 to 2 bunches mizuna or arugula


Preheat gas grill to medium hot.

For Namasu: Sprinkle cucumber with salt and let stand, covered, 15 minutes. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and ginger until sugar is dissolved. Add cucumber. Chill until needed. (Remove cucumber from liquid before serving.)

For Yuzu-Wasabi Avocado Aioli: In small bowl, mash avocado with yuzu juice. Add wasabi paste and mayonnaise. Cover and chill until needed.

For Burgers: Combine tuna, panko, egg, green onion, cilantro, garlic, ginger, yuzu (or lemon) zest, sesame oil, togarashi and salt in large bowl. Handling the tuna as little possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal patties.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes per side. During last few minutes of cooking, place rolls, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Spread cut sides of rolls with Yuzu-Wasabi Avocado Aioli. On roll bottoms, layer mizuna, a patty and an equal portion of the Namasu. Cover with roll tops and serve.
Serves 6