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Bushbuck Bites: Tasty Thai Butterfish Burgers


After a successful spearfishing trip around Kapiti Island, Kaelah James decided to experiment with a creative spin on the classic fish burger by incorporating traditional Thai flavours. As the weather starts warming up, fish is going to be on the menu in a lot of households around the country. This recipe is a great way to do something different with fish and can be easily adapted by changing the spice mix or using whatever you've got in the pantry.

Fish Mince

Fresh is such a versatile food. You can fry it, smoke it, bake it in a pie, and squeeze lemon juice over it and eat it raw. But not many people think to mince fish. Mincing up fresh fish is a great way to use leftovers and, in this recipe, it can be used to create delicious fish burger patties. You can grab a kitchen mincer from most homeware stores. They can cost a bit, but if you're processing plenty of wild kai like me, it's definitely a worthwhile investment. 

For this fish burger recipe, I minced up some butterfish I speared over the weekend and threw in some classic Thai flavours to give them a unique twist. To top it off, I've included pickled cucumber and a Japanese-style sesame slaw which complement the fish flavour. I just love the versatility of fish mince. You can use it for dumplings, patties, kebabs, the list goes on. Feel free to use any fish mince in this recipe.



Fish Patties

  • 4 fish fillets, minced

  • 1 egg, whisked

  • 1 red chilli

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp crushed garlic

  • 1 tsp minced ginger

  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped

  • Bunch of coriander

Pickled Cucumber

  • 1 cucumber cut into ribbons

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp chilli oil

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

To Serve

  • Toasted burger buns

  • Bag of Japanese-style sesame slaw. You can usually find this, or something similar, pre-made in the salad section of your local supermarket

  • Bottle of satay sauce

  • Extra coriander


The Recipe


Fish Patties

  1. Place red chilli, cumin, fish sauce, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, spring onions and coriander into a processor and pulse until blended.

  2. Add mixture to minced fish with egg and mix well.

  3. With wet hands, form fish mix into 4 even shaped patties.

  4. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, add patties and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Pickled Cucumber

  1. Simply place cucumber ribbons and all other ingredients into a bowl and mix well.

  2. Put into fridge until you're ready to use them.

Japanese-style Slaw

  1. Mix the slaw with the dressing provided and it's good to go.

Assembling the Burger

  1. Place Japanese-slaw on the base.

  2. Then add the fish patty.

  3. Add a generous amount of satay sauce, pickled cucumber and coriander on top.

These burgers are nice and filling so one is usually enough, especially if you're serving up a side of fries and salad. But if you've got a big appetite feel free to cook up a few more patties. They also last well in the fridge for a couple of days. Dig in and enjoy! 


Make sure to let us know if you give this recipe a go and post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag us @bushbucknz and Kaelah @kaelahs_wild_kai_kitchen

Kaelah James
Kaelah James

Kaelah James, aka Kaelah's Wild Kai Kitchen, is a New Zealand speafisher, huntress and incredible wild food cook. She's built up a following on Instagram by sharing her delicious recipes and she's now come on board as a Bushbuck ambassador and contributor to The Campfire blog. She will be sharing wild food and catch-and-cook recipes, as well as the stories behind hunting and gathering the kai. 

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