8 Aug 2010

Veggie-Rich Burgers

I can't in all conscience call these veggie burgers because they're not strictly vegetarian and contain ground chicken as a binder but, as the name suggests, these are crammed full of vegetable goodness, substantial and full of flavor. 
A lot of people imagine that Japan must be a great country for vegetarians: it's the country that made tofu famous after all, and then of course there's the Buddhist angle, but while the Japanese diet relies heavily on plant fare there are very few strict vegetarians in modern Japan and most people take a pretty lax view of the whole "vegetarian" thing. 

Japan has a traditional vegetarian cuisine - Shojin-ryori, but most home-cooking is based on fish stock and both fish and meat are used to increase the depth of flavor in a whole range of dishes. I'm not vegetarian so I have no issue with this, but it makes it hard when I'm trying to come up with recipes to win my brother's girlfriend over to tofu, which has got to be one of my all-time favorite foods. 
But all this is  by-the-by since these burgers don't contain any tofu. What they do contain is long onion (negi), carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese mustard spinach, edamame (young soy beans in the pod) and grated yam, as well as that ground chicken I mentioned earlier. The mixture is very loose and any attempt to shape it into patties is doomed to fail; I simply used a large ladle to scoop out burger-sized helpings into the frying pan. They're not very pretty but they held together fine in the pan and taste great. What's more, the flavors are distinctive without being overpowering. 
This being a J-style burger, I served it with rice and a soy sauce-based sauce, though I used white wine instead of mirin, which makes for a grown-up kind of flavor. I reckon the consistency is firm enough to withstand a bun, but you'd want to use a non-stick pan or a very hot hot-plate if you were attempting to cook them on a barbie. Whatever, they're wholesome and delicious and give you a good dose of vegetable goodness even if they're not strictly vegetarian. 

The Burgers
(Serves at least 3)

300g ground chicken
1/2 long onion (or leek)
1/4 carrot
2 shiitake mushrooms
1/2 bunch of Japanese mustard spinach

1 egg yolk
1 heaped tbsp cornflour
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp chicken stock granules
1 tbsp cooking sake
1 tsp soy sauce

100g grated yam
1/2 cup edamame

150cc stock
50cc cooking sake
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine

Korean seaweed, sprouts, etc. for garnish

1. Finely chop the onion, carrot and shiitake mushrooms. Blanche the mustard spinach, then drain and squeeze out all excess moisture before chopping. Using your hands, combine all these ingredients with the ground chicken and the [A] ingredients, then add the grated yam and edamame and mix well. 
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-to-high flame then add generous ladles of the burger mixture. Brown for 2-3 minutes then flip the burgers over. Cover the pan and simmer over a low-to-medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning the burgers occasionally to ensure an even color. 
3. Bring sauce ingredients [B] to a gentle boil in a small saucepan then thicken with a tablespoonful of cornflour dissolved in the same amount of water. Add the sauce to the burgers and marinade well.
4. Serve on a bed of sprouts (broccoli, alfalfa, mustard, etc.) and garnish with Korean seaweed. 

鶏ひき肉 300g
白ネギ 1/2 本
人参 1/4 本
椎茸 2 枚
小松菜 1/2 束
卵黄 1 個
片栗粉 大さじ山盛り1
塩 小さじ1/3
鶏ガラ粉末だし 小さじ1
酒 大さじ1
醤油 小さじ1
すりおろし山芋 100g
枝豆 1/2カップ
だし汁 150cc
料理酒 50cc
白ワイン、醤油 各大さじ2
水溶き片栗粉 適量

1. ひき肉、みじん切りにした白ネギ、人参、椎茸、さっと湯がいてからみじん切りにした小松菜、Aを手でよく混ぜ合わせ、粘りがでたら山芋と枝豆を加え、しゃもじでしっかりと合わせる。
2. 生地がゆるいので成形をせず、油を引いたフライパンにかたまりを落して、強めの中火で2~3分焼き色がついたらひっくり返し、弱火で15~20分弱、蒸し焼きにする。
3. 鍋にソースの材料を入れて煮立たせ、水溶き片栗粉でとろみをつけたら、(2)のフライパンに入れ、よく絡める。ソースと共に皿に盛り、刻みのりを飾る。

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