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Stacked Yakitori Burgers with Wasabi-Ginger Ketchup

Japanese food is my favorite food and inspires me to create recipes reflecting passion for its flavors and textures. This burger is my interpretation of a bacon, mushroom and onion burger with ketchup if it was served in a Japanese food pub, called Izakaya in Japan. While yakitori literally means "grilled bird", it can also include beef, pork and vegetables. The patties are brushed with sesame oil while grilling, imparting umami – the Japanese word for the fifth taste. Grilled marinated shiitakes and bacon-asparagus spears are typical yakitori snacks served in Izakaya. Everything gets a zingy lift from wasabi and fresh ginger in the ketchup. These burgers, made with simple, easily available, quality ingredients, are spicy, stacked and succulent!

Ingredients 

Wasabi-Ginger Ketchup:
2/3 cup quality ketchup
4 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

Patties:
1/3 cup grated sweet onion (after squeezing out excess liquid)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon togarashi (Japanese 7-spice chile powder)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds freshly ground chuck beef
1/2 pound ground pork

Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms & Green Onions:
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted peanut oil
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
24 large fresh shiitake mushroom caps (about 3 to 4-inch diameter; no stems)
24 green onions, trimmed with 2" green portion remaining

Bacon Spears:
12 strips applewood-smoked bacon, cut in thirds widthwise
18 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed and then spears cut in half widthwise

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
3 tablespoons sesame oil
6 bakery Vienna burger rolls, split (egg-wash-glazed rolls, with a slightly crisped crust and a soft, tender interior)

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the wasabi ketchup, in a small bowl, mix together ketchup, soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. Set aside.

To make the patties, in a small bowl, mix together onion, soy sauce, pepper, togarashi and salt. Spread the ground chuck and ground pork out in a large shallow pan and, handling the meat as little as possible, evenly mix onion mixture into meat. Shape into 6 equal patties sized to fit the rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the shiitake mushrooms and green onions, when the grill is ready, in a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, peanut oil, sake and soy sauce. Add mushrooms and green onions to bowl and turn vegetables over several times to coat with juice mixture. Grill mushrooms on grill rack for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until juicy and lightly browned. Remove from heat, wrap in foil and keep warm. Grill the green onions across grill rack for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until softened and nicely charred. Remove from heat, cut onions in half lengthwise and then evenly in fourths across, wrap in foil and keep warm. Scrape grill rack clean as necessary.

To make the bacon spears, wrap a piece of bacon diagonally around each piece of asparagus. Add pieces to a fire-proof skillet, preferably a grill pan (then the pieces can go in the grooves of the grill pan.) Place pan on grill rack or on side burner turned to medium-high and cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and asparagus is just cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove spears to a plate lined with paper towels and tent with foil.

To grill the patties, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Put a slight indentation in the center of each patty and place the patties on the grill rack. Brush the top of each patty with sesame oil, cover and cook, turning once and then brushing again with sesame oil, cooking about 4 to 6 minutes per side to cook to medium because of the pork. (But don’t worry – they’ll still be juicy!) During the last few minutes of cooking place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble, evenly divide onions on roll bottoms and top with a patty. Top each with 6 bacon spears, and then 4 mushrooms. Spread the cut side of each roll top with 1 1/2 tablespoons wasabi-ginger ketchup, place on top of mushrooms and serve with napkins and a smile! Kampai! (Cheers in Japanese!) Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

For this recipe, I used Heinz ketchup and S&B brand togarashi. Togarashi is an assorted ground chili pepper blend which, besides ground chile pepper, also contains orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. It is available in the Asian section of most well-stocked supermarkets. I also used Wegmans uncured applewood-smoked bacon and their bakery rolls.