TURKEY BURGER, JAPANESE-STYLE

If you are a food blogger, you know how it goes. Even a great recipe is made once, perhaps twice, then left behind, living exclusively as a blog post that you read and say to yourself “I must make that again, it was so good!”  But then, some recipes somehow materialize as regular appearances. Usually they hit a magical trilogy: simple to prepare, great flavor, and all the people you cook for happen to love it too. From my reasonably recent blogging past, two dishes hit this jackpot and show up all the time: Eggplant Parmigiana (version from Jeff Mauro), and Turkey Portobello Burgers. The eggplant turned into a once-per-week deal, actually, and I have simplified the preparation even more. I should edit that post to reflect my changes. As to the turkey burgers I can probably make them with one hand tied behind my back. Today I share with you a new version that incorporates Japanese ingredients.  The ticket is a mixture of shiitake mushrooms and red miso. If you are new to miso, maybe you should start with the milder, white version, but if you are a seasoned miso-eater (apologies for lousy pun), go big and go red.


JAPANESE-STYLE TURKEY BURGER
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon red miso
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sansho pepper (or pepper of your choice)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh cilantro leaves to taste

Place the mushrooms, miso, olive oil, sansho pepper, salt and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until it all forms a paste.

To prepare the burgers, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together; divide the mixture into 4 equal parts, forming a burger patty with each fourth of the mixture. Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes (or longer, but then cover lightly with plastic wrap.

Grill to your liking, about 5 minutes per side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a thing for grill marks. In my mind, without them, grilled food won’t taste good. It is obvious I eat with my eyes first. For that reason, I am always adding a touch of honey or maple syrup to all my marinades, and often add some in a turkey burger mixture. In this recipe, miso does the job nicely, look at the beauty of those grill marks!

The other interesting bit of this recipe is that, contrary to ground beef, you don’t need to use a light hand forming the patties. The type of muscle fiber and fat content of turkey meat makes it behave in a totally different way. In fact, if you massage it well, and get the meat to be more fully compacted, the texture will be better. This tip was mentioned in America’s Test Kitchen during a show on turkey meatballs, and in a great book called The Japanese Grill (I told you I am in a Japanese-obsessive mood, didn’t I?). I proved it to myself with these burgers – massaged the living bejesus out of the meat. It ended up with perfect texture.

We rarely have bread with our burgers, and in fact, according to The Japanese Grill cookbook, a turkey burger must be served only with a little sauce, as if it’s a steak. Bread is considered a big no-no. Of course, if they see I added Velveeta on top of mine, they would prevent my entry into the country. I really want to go some day, so let that be our dirty secret…

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