Three years ago in May, Joe and Liza Tremblay and took over a roadside place in Sag Harbor, NY, that was called “Linda’s Famous Cheesecake”. I had one friend who swore by Linda’s cheesecake but to be honest, I could never figure out when the place was open. It was desolate most of the time. Then Joe and Liza came along and opened “Bay Burger” at 1742 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, (631-899-3915). Joe is a former grillman at the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien in Manhattan, generally acknowledged to have one of the best burgers in the city. Liza is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who makes the couple’s eponymous ice cream. The slogan for the ice cream is “It’s from the Hamptons so you know it’s rich”.
But what’s wonderful about “Bay Burger” is that it’s everything we love about the Hamptons. Not the Hamptons of the rich and famous, it’s the small town feeling we love. And “Bay Burger” sort of sums it all up. Because as anonymous as Linda’s Cheesecake was, “Bay Burger” has quickly become a kind of community center. Never mind that the beef is house ground, the brioche buns homemade, and the Tots and Fries addictive, there are Jam Sessions with great Jazz musicians, Political fundraisers, and, in our case, the Rehearsal “Dinner” before our friends’ wedding at our house. And then there’s the Fish Sandwich.
When people are feeling particularly sanctimonious and eschewing the burger, the grilled cheese, the hot dog on the homemade bun, they gravitate to the glories of this Striped Bass patty, infused with shallots, topped with tartar sauce and served on one of Joe’s brioche buns. Oh how much healthier the fish is! Well, not really. The fish sandwich is deep-fried which gives it an incredible crunch and eliminates any thought that it’s health food. But my, is it good! There’s only one hitch here. Bay Burger closes down for the winter. It’s gone after Christmas and won’t re-open until April 1st. So in honor of that fortunately fast-approaching date, here’s a recipe I put together that closely approximates what’s on offer at “Bay Burger” and should tide you over until it opens tomorrow. It’s not deep-fried, merely sautéed and accompanied by, what else? Tater Tots, of course.
Recipe for Striped Bass Fish Sandwich
1 lb. striped bass filets, skinned and cut into one inch chunks
1 large or 2 small shallots, minced.
2 eggs, lightly beaten.
2 tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
½ cup Brioche Crumbs
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs.
½ cup vegetable oil
In the bowl of a food processor equipped with the metal blade,
coarsely process the fish until they are of ‘burger’ consistency. Do not overdo.
In a large bowl, combine the fish, shallots, eggs, mayonnaise and mustard. Add the brioche crumbs and mix gently. Form into four patties of equal size. Pepper the patties. Then immerse them in the Panko breadcrumbs, put them on a plate, covered and refrigerate until ready to cook.
In a sauté big enough to hold all four patties, heat oil over medium high. Add fish cakes and cook until each side is brown and crispy about 3 to 5 minutes a side.
Lightly butter one side of 4 brioche hamburger buns. Put a slice of lettuce on each then slather tartar sauce on the other half of the bun.
Place the cooked fish burger onto the bun and serve with a simple arugula salad.
For the Tartar Sauce:
It goes without saying that you can buy tartar sauce. Whole Foods makes a spectacular one. However making your own is truly easy and will probably save you money.
½ Kosher Dill Pickle, diced fine
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. grated Horseradish.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.