I grew up in a Caribbean family and one thing we love is an extravagant barbecue: delicious grilled meats and fish, starchy and fresh sides, and a good Prestige or Red Stripe beer. When we get together for grilling, my family tends to stick to classic recipes that have been passed down for generations. But, as I’ve entered adulthood, it’s been vital to me to step outside the box, while still paying homage to my Caribbean roots. One recipe that epitomizes that balance between my cultural heritage and my culinary independence? Jocelyn Adam’s Mango Jerk Salmon Burgers.
The stars of this salmon burger recipe are jerk spice and mangoes — and with that combination, can you really go wrong? The spices are smokey and pungent, with an afternote of heat from scotch bonnet peppers and caramelized sweetness from brown sugar. The floral, terpene-y flavors of the mangoes combined with the sour yet refreshing accents from the lime will immediately make you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical climate. It truly doesn’t get better than this.
Ready to try this Caribbean-inspired salmon burger? Of course, you are! Before you do, though, read my cook’s tips so that you can make this recipe foolproof.
My Cook’s Notes (But Like My Mom Always Says “Let the Ancestors Guide You”)
1. Get the right jerk spice.
There are many jerk spices on the market, and it can be tempting to grab the first one you see — don’t! It’s essential to get the correct flavors, and that means getting the real deal, i.e. jerk spice from Jamaica. My two favorites are Blue Mountain Hot & Spicy Jerk Seasoning and Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning, which I can find them at my local bodega or Caribbean grocery store, but you can also find them online.
2. Choose high-quality salmon.
One thing that I learned from my mom is to invest in the highest quality fish. In her words, If you don’t, you can ruin the entire dish. Lucky for you, you can do this without hurting your pockets: You can typically find it frozen to save on cash, yet still reap the benefits of good-for-you salmon. Just make sure that you thaw and pat it dry when you use it for this recipe to absorb any excess water.
3. Find a ripe mango.
Have you ever eaten a mango that tastes like pine? That’s because it wasn’t ripe. It is so important to use a ripe mango for this recipe to achieve the necessary flavors. When picking out a mango, it should be soft when you press it and wafting of sweet fruit near the stem area.
4. Don’t refrigerate before grilling.
For these burgers to come out stellar, do not, I repeat, do not refrigerate before grilling. Many salmon burger recipes encourage you to refrigerate salmon burgers before grilling, and they are wrong. This can cause the burger to cook at uneven temperatures and sometimes even crumble to pieces.
5. Pre-heat and oil the grill.
In order to avoid your salmon burgers sticking to the grill, make sure the grill is adequately heated and oil the grill thoroughly. I like to use an oil-drenched towel and tongs to oil the grill evenly.
6. Be gentle when you flip.
Lastly, be gentle when you flip these. You’re working with fish, not meat. It deserves a unique tender-loving care.
Get the recipe: Mango Jerk Salmon Burger from Grandbaby Cakes