It’s really not hard to stumble across a burger joint, but you almost can’t avoid it in London.
And why would you?
In London, you’ve got all sorts of burgers for all sorts of tastes. I’ve probably had burgers from more places than I can count on my fingers (and there’s some serious burger lovin’ competition out there).
I began to think about my all-time favourites and one that made it to the top is Shrimpy’s – a stall amongst many at Broadway Market. Having a weakness for seafood, the idea of juicy, grilled prawns was too good to miss.
Passionate about seafood, Shrimpy has been selling their signature prawn burgers for a solid 4 years and is now doing rounds across the UK. They are mainly feeding hungry market-goers at Broadway Market and Southbank, but are also invited to festivals, to the delight of many festival-goers looking for more than your run-of-the-mill festival food. Recognising that most burgers are not seafood based, they are looking to set up more stalls across London. They currently serve two versions of their burger – one with chargrilled prawns and the other with deep fried prawns (only served at Southbank). I had the burger with chargrilled prawns but I really can’t wait to try their fried version.
The burger comes with chargrilled prawns coated in a sticky marinade, caramelised onions, samphire, pickled cucumbers, and as an option, avocado. You are also given the option to choose between two sauces. The end result is one which involves a variety of textures from the tenderness of the prawns contrasting against the crunchiness of the salty samphire. The caramelised onions and pickled cucumber give it a subtle sweetness ,whilst the avocado neutralises the flavours.
All in all, I’m really glad they’re rocking the seafood burger boat and shrimping up the lives of hungry people such as myself.
After tasting Shrimpy’s delicious patty-free prawn burger, I thought to myself, what can I make that’s not too different.
Because I love a good old challenge, I decided to make an octopus burger. The challenge – well, I had never cooked an octopus before, let alone make a burger out of it.
In the end, I was pretty satisfied. As I wanted the burger to look very much like an octopus burger, I let the tentacles hang out of the bun. I also decorated the burger with a caper berry and one fried okra to give it that extra flavour punch.
Time: 1.5 hours
- 1 kg octopus
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- Bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 2 bread buns
- knob of butter
- Vegetable oil
- 6 okra
- 400ml buttermilk
- 250g fine yellow cornmeal
- ¾ tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Smoked Paprika Aioli
- 100g mayonnaise
- 60g fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 tbsp each smoked paprika and ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 tsp olive tapenade
- Bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 large diced tomato
- 1 tsp diced jalapeno
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tsp finely chopped shallot
- 1 tsp capers
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prepare the octopus. You can buy it fresh or frozen. If frozen, make sure you defrost it in the fridge the night before. If fresh, make sure to clean it, gut it and have the beak removed. To gradually temper the octopus, prepare a pot of salted water to boil and dip the octopus up to four times in the boiling water. You will notice the tentacles begin to curl. After the fourth time, drop the octopus in the pot of boiling water. Reduce the heat immediately and simmer gently for 45–60 minutes. It’s important that the water is turned down to a gentle simmer once the octopus is in the pan. Cooking it too quickly will result in a rubbery texture. From time to time, you might need to turn the octopus upside down to ensure that it’s all cooked evenly. Check tenderness with a knife. Once the octopus is tender, leave to cool at room temperature.
- As the octopus is cooking, prepare the aioli and salsa. These can also be prepared the night before. To make the aioli, mix together the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, smoked paprika, minced garlic, cumin, and salt in a small bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.The taste of this sauce will improve as it sits and the flavours meld. If possible, prepare it several hours or a day in advance.
- To make the salsa, finely chop the tomato, jalapeno, parsley and shallot. Mix in the capers and olive tapenade and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
- Next up is the fried okra. For this, you need to place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven or skillet; heat to 350° – you can test this with a thermometer or use your best guess. Fry okra, in pairs, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the octopus has cooled, begin to cut it into rough chunks saving some tentacles for decoration. Alternatively, you could slice the octopus horizontally to stack slices neatly on top of each other. Once that is done, add pieces to a bowl and season with a dash of olive oil, parsley, crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Heat up the grill and place the octopus pieces on the grill once very hot. Once the octopus begins to brown remove and place the grilled pieces back into the bowl.
- In the meantime, butter up the sliced buns and place firmly on the grill for a couple of minutes on both sides after removing the octopus.
- Now the burger is ready to be prepared. Spread a generous amount of paprika aioli on one side of the bun. Top with tomato salsa. Add the octopus and two fried okras. Drizzle with more aioli sauce and place top bun. As an option, serve with an okra and caper berry by driving a toothpick into the centre of the bun.
This recipe was inspired by Rök Islington’s popular starter: Scallop in Shell with Nduja and British Seaweed.
Here, I present to you the Scallop in Shell with Nduja, Ricotta and roasted Hazelnuts. This recipe is simply delicious and won’t fail to impress. What’s great about it, is that it takes no effort at all.
I sourced the scallops from my local fishmonger who stocks from sustainable sources. The nduja, which is a Calabrian spicy, spreadable sausage, was bought from De Calabria, Borough Market, together with the ricotta.
Time: 15 Minutes
- 3 tablespoons brown butter (see instructions below)
- 4 large scallops with coral and shell
- 150g fresh ricotta
- 15g nduja (or soft, cooking chorizo)
- 1 spoonful of roasted, crushed hazelnuts
- Lemon zest of half a lemon
- Brown butter (buerre noisette, in French) is simply butter that’s been heated until the milk solids have turned brown and nutty-tasting, acting as an incredible flavouring agent. To make brown butter, simply start melting butter (I melted a whole packet of butter to store for later) over medium heat. Use a pan with a light-coloured bottom so you can keep track of the colour. Once the butter begins to smell nutty and has turned toasty-brown, take the pan off the heat and sieve the browned butter into a heatproof bowl to cool. You can stick brown butter in the fridge and reuse as you would regular butter.
- For the paste, mix the ricotta and nduja in a bowl with a fork. As the nduja is spicy, my suggestion would be to add to taste. Add the lemon zest and continue to mix until all ingredients are well combined.
- Fill a pot with boiling water and remove from the heat. Place the bowl with the nduja and ricotta in the pot of boiling water imitating a bain marie (hot water bath) to warm and thin the consistency of the paste without cooking it.
- Pat the scallops dry in a kitchen towel and season with fine salt in a bowl. In the meantime, add the brown butter into the pan on medium heat. Wait for the pan to get really hot, and then add the scallops. Leave the scallops for 2 ½ minutes on one side. Make sure not to fidget with it until it cooks for the required time. Then turn it over using thongs and leave to cook for 2 more minutes.
- To plate, scoop one heaped tablespoon of the paste on each scallop shell. Once the seared scallops are ready, top with one scallop each and sprinkle with roasted, crushed hazelnuts. The hazelnuts can be bought prepared but if you’ve got some more time on your hands, I would suggest roasting whole, good quality hazelnuts and crush these in a mortar (alternatively, place nuts in a plastic bag and bash with a solid object). The irregularity of the pieces will look more appealing.