Tuna Burgers Citronelle-Style

Tuna Burgers Citronelle-Style

One of (if not the) top restaurants in D.C. is Michel Richard Citronelle. On the bar menu is the well-known tuna burger – easily the best I’ve ever had. It’s kind of like a seared tuna tartare on a bun with some wasabi mayo and a basil-infused tomato. This is inspired by that, but with a few little tweaks of my own. The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to do the paper thin potato crisps, but otherwise, it’s pretty close. If you know somewhere to buy fresh brioche rolls, get them for this. Otherwise, try a potato roll or other soft roll. For the true Citronelle experience, make French fries by cooking them 3 times in clarified butter! This recipe makes four good-sized burgers.

Tuna Burger:

  • 1.5 lbs Sushi-grade tuna, trimmed to remove any sinew
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • Pinch of cayenne, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper Vegetable oil
  • 4 soft buns or dinner rolls, lightly toasted

Dice the tuna, making some of it very small dice, and leaving some coarser and uneven. In a chilled bowl, mix the tuna with scallions, ginger, mustard, soy, cayenne, and salt/pepper. Divide the mixture into four parts, and form into balls. Then pat them flat, about 1-inch thick. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat a dry large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour enough oil into pan to just cover the surface but not too much. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side. Remove immediately from the pan.

Wasabi Mayonnaise:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T wasabi powder
  • 1 T fresh lime juice

Mix the powder with water to form a paste, then blend into the mayonnaise and lime juice. Can be made ahead.

Basil Oil (if you don’t have it store-bought)

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Large handful of basil leaves

Pour the olive oil and basil leaves into blender, puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl, or ideally, an empty diner-style ketchup dispenser.

Basil-infused tomatoes

  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • ¼ cup basil oil

Slice the tomato very thinly. Lay slice on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil, and cover with basil oil. Bake at 275 for 5 minutes. Let cool.


Put wasabi mayonnaise on both sides of the bun. Place a tomato slice on the bottom bun, and place the tuna burger on top of the tomato. Drizzle a little basil oil on top of the tuna burger and cover with the bun top.