This is exactly the kind of meals I grew up on as a child in Japan. A mini adult plate, with several vegetable sides all beaming with color.
The Japanese have modified – as they always do – the classic American Hamburger, and transformed it into a somewhat more formal dish. A ‘hamburger’ in Japan is often served like this, without buns, accompanied by a fancy demi-glace sauce worthy of a noble filet steak. Kids love these moist meat patties full of flavor and adult-looking, and it is always on a kid’s menu in most restaurants in Japan. Come to think of it, it is the same here in France – they usually have a similar (but drier and less flavored) steak hache in most restaurants, destined for kids and served with a plate of fries.
This burger recipe includes flax meal, wheat germ and tofu. I use a mixture of beef and pork, but you can also use ground veal or lamb.
For Magnus’ plate, I added a little bear rice and some left-over hijiki seaweed salad on the side. Magnus, as always, finished the hijiki first, then moved on to the bear rice and burger.
Japanese Style Burger Steak with Kale, Green Beans and Caramel Glazed Carrots
Serves 4 (kids and adults)
For the Burger
1/2 pound ground beef (preferably grass-fed as it is higher in Omega 3)
1/4 pound ground pork (or ground veal)
1/2 onion, diced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil for cooking
1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well (with your hand if possible – gets all of the elements in there).
2. Make small patties.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon in a pan on medium heat and cook the patties in batches, about 4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Add more oil if necessary.
4. Place on a plate lined with paper towel while you prepare the glaze sauce – you will make the sauce in the same pan, so simply take out the burgers and place the pan back on the burner.
For the Demi-Glace Sauce
1/4 cup cold veal or beef stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
3 teaspoons cold butter
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons cold water
1. In the same pan you used to cook the burgers, keep the heat on medium and quickly pour in the cold stock
(the liquid that goes into the pan has to be very cold in order to release the suc – the bits of meat and fat left over from the cooked meat). With a wooden spoon, scrape off the bits from the bottom – they should release quite easily. Stir and bring the heat to high.
2. Stir in the Worcestire sauce, mirin and soy and simmer until the liquid reduces, about 5 minutes
3. In a cup, stir together the corn starch with the water and mix well. Stir into the sauce and mix well. Simmer for another 2 minutes. This will thicken the sauce.
4. Stir in the cold butter and take off the heat – this will give richness and gloss to the sauce.
4 cups fresh kale, cleaned, stems removed and chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 garlic clove, crushed lightly but intact in one piece
2 teaspoons nuoc nam fish sauce
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1. Heat a pan on medium heat with the oil.
2. When the pan is heated, add the garlic bulb and swirl around the oil for the fragrance.
3. Add the kale, then the fish sauce. Toss gently with a wooden spoon and cover on medium/low heat until it wilts down, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Take the pan off heat and sprinkle chia seeds and serve.
Simple Green Beans
1/2 pound young green beans (or French haricots verts), trimmed (cut off the extremes of both ends)
2 teaspoons sea salt
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil (optional)
1. Bring to boil a large pot of water with salt.
2. Add the green beans and cook for 5-7 minutes. The beans should be crunchy, and not soft. Check by taking out one green bean before deciding whether they need to cook further.
3. When done, drain and run cold water on all of the beans for a few minutes to stop the cooking process.
3. Toss with salt and pepper, and some olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.
Caramel Glazed Carrots
4 carrots, washed, peeled and cut into thin sticks
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pan, place the carrots and add water – just enough to cover the carrots. Add the brown sugar and butter, cover and bring to a boil.
2. Take off the cover and bring down to heat to low. Allow to simmer slowly, cooking until the water evaporates, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Toss the carrots around the pan so that it is well coated with the sugar and butter that should be turning golden. Check the tenderness of the carrots by inserting a knife. If soft, take off heat. If still hard, add a tablespoon of water and cook further. Repeat the process until the carrots are tender.
4. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.