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Where EAST meets the Northwest

BETTER BURGERS. An Asian-flavored beef burger with chopped mushrooms is seen in New Milford, Connecticut. The recipe includes ponzu, a citrus-based sauce used often in Japanese cooking. (Katie Workman via AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #14 (July 18, 2016), page 13.

Cooking on deadline: Asian beef-and-mushroom burgers

By Katie Workman

The Associated Press

In grilling season, thereís probably no food more popular than burgers. And while many kinds of burgers have become mainstream, from turkey to tuna to vegetarian, beef remains king.

But how can you have the taste and juiciness of beef while cutting back on a bit of the fat?

The answer: Add in some mushrooms.

When chopped, mushrooms (either cooked or raw) have a similar texture to ground meat, and blend right in. Itís a nice way to lighten up a summertime staple.

And then thereís ponzu sauce, with which Iíve recently become a little besotted. Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce used often in Japanese cooking. It is salty and tangy, made from vinegar, mirin (a low-alcohol rice wine), seaweed, and fish flakes (please, donít be turned off), and it has just a wonderful flavor. The citrus most commonly added is either juice or zest from yuzu or sudachi, two fruits from East Asia.

Ponzu sauce is often drizzled over foods for a finishing touch, or used as a dip, but here itís blended into the meat and mush- rooms for yet another layer of umami (Japanese for "savory").

Both ponzu sauce and wasabi paste (or wasabi powder, which can be blended with water to make a paste) are available at Asian markets and in the Asian aisle of well-stocked supermarkets.

For these burgers, the wasabi mayo is optional. They also would be great with ketchup or mustard, and of course lettuce, onion, and tomato.

A last cooking tip: Chilling the burgers before grilling them helps them hold their shape. They also are great seared up in a pan ó and hold together even better.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

* * *

Asian Beef-and-Mushroom Burgers

Start to finish: 2 hours

Servings: 6 burgers

Asian Burgers:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound shiitake or baby Portobello mushrooms

Sliced Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons ponzu sauce, plus more for brushing

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 teaspoons grated ginger

2 pounds ground beef

Wasabi Mayonnaise (optional):

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon wasabi paste, or to taste

6 hamburger buns

Lettuce

Sliced tomatoes

Sliced onions

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sautť until the mushrooms release any liquid and it evaporates, and the mushrooms begin to turn nicely browned, about eight to 10 minutes in all. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and cool to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, three tablespoons of ponzu sauce, garlic, and ginger. Finely chop the cooled mushrooms using a knife or by pulsing in a food processor, then add them along with the beef to the bowl. Use your hands to gently mix until well combined.

3. Form the mixture into six patties; use your thumbs to make slight indentations in the center of each burger. (That will cause them to end up flat when they cook.) Refrigerate the burgers for at least an hour, preferably two or three, to let them firm up. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the wasabi paste. Adjust the level of heat to your taste, adding more mayo or wasabi paste as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the burgers for four to five minutes on each side, turning them carefully with a large spatula, until they are done to your liking. Alternatively, heat a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat and sear the burgers four to five minutes on each side. Brush the tops lightly with the additional ponzu sauce. Serve on the buns (toasted if you wish) with the wasabi cream, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, or anything you like!

Nutrition information per serving: 548 calories (313 calories from fat); 35 g fat (11 g saturated, 1 g trans fats); 147 mg cholesterol; 907 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 28 g protein.

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