Lazarus Lynch is passionate about burgers.
“[They] just make my soul happy,” the 25-year-old tells The Post.
The social-media phenom, known online as Son of a Southern Chef, knows a thing or two about soul. Before becoming the YouTube-famous chef he is today, the two-time “Chopped” winner grew up in Jamaica, Queens, where he bonded with his dad over the classic Southern fare served at the family’s soul-food restaurant. Today, Lynch brings a casual vibrancy to his online cooking demos (his tag line: “Make it gravy!”) and new cookbook, “Son of a Southern Chef: Cook With Soul” (Penguin).
Perhaps controversially, Lynch doesn’t believe that burgers need to be made with ground beef to be delicious. His new cookbook features several alterna-patties, made with everything from salmon to pork to black-eyed peas to pulled short ribs.
Other elements he’s pickier about. For example, buns “must, must, must” be toasted, and lettuce carefully dried before joining the sandwich.
He takes toppings seriously too. Ketchup? “It’s a lazy choice.” Some sliced tomatoes? “I try to stay away from watery toppings [like those] — they just break down the freshness of a burger.” He’d rather use salsa for a punchy hit of tomato flavor — or, better yet, a seasoned mayo or special sauce designed specifically to suit the patty, like the cucumber-yogurt spread that tops his blackened salmon burger.
Read on to steal Lynch’s secrets to tasty, beef-free patties — and clear space for them on the grill this Fourth of July.
Blackened salmon burger
This heart-healthy patty, which is made from fresh salmon and a little canola oil pulsed together in a food processor, is “a great summer burger,” says Lynch. “Not only is it light, it’s delicious.” He tops it with a virtuous, four-ingredient cucumber-yogurt sauce.
First, make the spice mix: In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme and ¹/₂ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Then, whir up the sauce. In a food processor, mix together ¹/₂ cup Greek yogurt, ¹/₃ small cucumber (diced), 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill. Stop when chunky.
Finally, it’s patty time: Cut 1 pound skinless, boneless salmon fillet into 1-inch cubes. Place in a food processor and top with 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon canola oil. Pulse until it resembles ground meat. Divide salmon mixture into 4 balls, then shape into patties. Sprinkle the spice mix over the top of the burgers. Grill over medium-high heat until dark brown (2 to 3 minutes on each side). Serve on toasted potato buns; finish with cucumber-yogurt sauce and toppings of your choice (Lynch likes avocado and microgreens). Serves 4
Sticky pork burgers with cabbage
When he was 16, Lazarus spent several months in Beijing at an internship, and the flavors he encountered were life-changing, inspiring this savory-sweet pork dish. “I fell in love with the sauces that they lacquer on top of barbecued meats,” he says.
First, make a cabbage slaw: Shred 2 cups napa cabbage into a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine ¹/₄ cup unseasoned rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons sugar, ¹/₂ teaspoon kosher salt and ¹/₄ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour mixture over cabbage, toss to combine and set aside to marinate.
Then, make the pork burgers: In a food processor, pulse together another ¹/₂ cup shredded napa cabbage, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 scallions (roughly chopped), 1 small shallot (roughly chopped) and 2 garlic cloves (minced). When finely ground, mix in 1 pound 80-percent-lean ground pork, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons untoasted sesame oil, ¹/₂ teaspoon salt and ¹/₄ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Divide into four balls and shape into patties. Grill until golden brown (4 to 5 minutes on each side). Drizzle with honey (up to 1 tablespoon per burger) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve on toasted, seeded buns; top with cabbage slaw and a smear of mayo, if you like. Serves 4
Healthy tip: If you’re looking to avoid carbs, this recipe also works great in meatball form. Roll the ground pork into 1-ounce balls and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Serve in lettuce wraps, complete with honey, sesame seeds and cabbage slaw, and garnish with mint for an extra burst of freshness.
Lazarus Lynch tweaked his mom’s saltfish recipe. Timesaving tip: If you’re prepping ahead, soak the codfish overnight instead of boiling it day-of.
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Lynch grew up eating his Guyanese mother’s saltfish: salted, dried codfish that’s rehydrated and sautéed. “It’s definitely her classic recipe,” he says. Lynch’s lean version works well as a sort of open-faced burger: Put it on a toasted bun with some sliced avocado, a squeeze of lemon and maybe some cayenne. If you’re looking for something lighter, swap the bread for a bed of arugula. Bonus: The loose mixture travels well, and its non-patty structure allows for precise portion control.
This is one you’ll want to get a jump on: First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two 12-ounce packages of dried boneless salted cod; boil for an hour. Drain the cod in a colander. Then, refill the pot with cold water and bring it to a boil. Return the cod to the pot and boil again for 30 minutes. Drain the cod, use 2 forks to fluff it and set aside.
Then, in a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 large yellow onion (chopped), 1 large tomato (chopped), 1 bunch scallions (sliced thin) and 2 garlic cloves (chopped) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Add cod and black pepper and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Place on a toasted bun of your choice, and add a squeeze of lemon juice to serve. Serves 10-12
Adapted from “Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul” by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019, Lazarus Lynch, Photography by Anisha Sisodia.