Recipe Hack : Shrimp Burger a la Umamicatessen

By Tsz on February 26, 2013

Gastrophoria is Umamicatessen’s shrimp burger.

It’s no secret that Umami is a temple for burgers—beefy well-crafted specimens paired with umami laced toppings such as parmesan crisps, roasted shitakes, truffle cheese, and many more. But, did you know about their non-beef concoctions? Turns out they create burger magic with tuna and shrimp too!

And what magic it is. Juicy, snappy morsels of shrimp are shaped into a hefty patty, topped with a tangy Japanese shredded seaweed salad and slathered with yuzu-kosho aioli. So simple, yet with each element vital to the overall composition. It is a wondrous work of art that lingers in your mind days after the encounter.

So much so that I had to recreate the magic at home. Armed with memories of said burger, I spent a day experimenting with my fellow partner-in-food—code name, the human mixer. We came pretty close to the real deal… but I’ll let you be the judge.

Shrimp Burgers a la Umamicatessen

Makes 4 burgers

4 Ciabatta buns (or of your choosing)
1/2 cup mayo
1 tsp yuzu-kosho or wasabi (to taste) 

1 1/2 pounds of shrimp (Tiger shrimp 20/pound works well) 


Japanese seaweed salad (can be found in your neighborhood Asian market deli)

1. Split the buns of your choice and toast them on a skillet. Keep these warm in the oven while you prep the other elements. 

2. To make the aioli, simply mix the mayo with the yuzu-kosho or wasabi. Add more if you like the burn!

3. To prep the shrimp, peel and de-vein accordingly. Set a handful of shrimp aside (say 6-8) and butterfly and cut the rest into fourths. Take the reserved shrimp and chop them finely till it resembles a paste—this will act as the “glue” for the patties.

4. Now, mix the cut shrimp and shrimp paste in a bowl with salt and Togarashi to taste and mix vigorously to activate the protein. This is when elbow grease comes in handy. Picture yourself as a stand mixer and mix till the shrimp mixture gets very sticky and forms into a ball, around 4 minutes. 

5. Split the mixture into fourths and fry on a non-stick skillet till golden brown on both sides.

6. Put a shrimp patty on a toasted bun, heap on the seaweed and spread a layer of aioli. For extra zest, sprinkle on some Togarashi on top. Enjoy!


Spazio Caffé : A Taste of Italy in Santa Monica

By Tsz on February 11, 2013

Gastrophoria is a steaming glass of latte macchiato from Spazio Caffé.

Ever since a life altering trip to Europe 2 years ago, I’ve been on a search for a good, straight forward cup of latte and had been coming up short. Not in the quality of coffee, thanks to a bevy of craft coffee houses available, but in the attitude.

In a coffee culture that encourage the choose-your-own-adventure cup of brew, it inevitably breeds coffee prima donnas. The ones with the highly specific drink orders that takes at least 5 minutes to spell out and undoubtedly includes the use of skimmed soy milk, pumps of sugar-free hazelnut syrup, blonde roast, etc.

Such an 180 from European neighborhood cafes, where the baristas feature one superior roast and from it, create drinks that are simple, yet delicious. The patrons appreciate it as-is—no fussing and definitely no requests of non-fat milk.

Fortunately, the newly opened Spazio Caffé does just that. Their team of baristas craft traditional espressos and espresso-based drinks daily that has the ability to transport you to Italy (without the highly priced plane ticket).

Using Italian Manuel beans, espressos are bold yet brightly flavored without bitterness. My favorite is the latte macchiato, where steamed milk and fluffy foam mellows out shots of espresso. Think less of a jolt of caffeine but more of a hug—the drink equivalent of a warm, fluffy blanket. Just remember to mix in layer of caramel on the bottom before drinking!

If you’re in a chocolatey mood, Baciami incorporates alternating layers of dark chocolate syrup, cocoa powder and espresso, resulting in mocha on steroids. Or better yet, there are 18 different flavors of drinking chocolate. This is not the watery brown water of your childhood (ie. Swiss Miss), but smooth chocolate bisque. I’m particular to their coconut chocolate as there’s little coconut bits incorporated throughout.

For a savory accompaniment, there are finger sandwiches featuring a selection of omelets, smoked salmon and Italian cured meats and cheeses for a savory accompaniment. Since Spazio’s chef, Pierpaolo Mattei, hails from northern Italy bordering France, he takes pride in serving up French influenced cafe fares such as savory crepes bathed in light cream sauces (oxymoron, but it’s possible!) and various grain salads. And of course, dreamy tiramisu makes an appearance. Ciao bella!

Spazio Caffé
1511-C Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone : (310) 899-6769