A Trip to Japan
A few years ago, I thought it was a good idea to go to school full-time while working full-time as a librarian and almost full-time doing contract work for a search engine. (In case you now think I live in an alternate universe with 36 hour days, you should know that both my classes and my second job were online.) I just wanted work experience! I was in a competitive field! Also, if you have two full-time jobs, if you lose one, guess what? YOU STILL HAVE A JOB!
While the schedule was just a wee bit of a drag, the bonus was that having 3 full-time incomes in a household with no children and very few expenses meant that our fun money budget was huge. So when I checked airfares to Osaka on a whim one day and found a crazy good deal, we booked ourselves some tickets and went to Japan.
Japan! Best trip ever! I have loved Japan for as long as I can remember. I think it’s because I love absurdity and the people of Japan have a deep appreciation for the absurd. Japan is a place where you can buy vegetable juice-flavored Kit Kats. It’s a place where they put slices of cheesecake inside crepes. It’s the homeland of Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty. Actually having the chance to go there was completely surreal and wonderful and we decided that we would go back every year.
Which, of course, didn’t happen. The whole 2 full-time job thing didn’t last very long because sometimes you have to put sanity ahead of money and awesome trips to Japan.
Finding things to eat in Japan presented a bit of a challenge. It’s one of those countries where food that seems like it would be vegetarian often isn’t. We planned most of our meals in advance with the help of Happy Cow, but sometimes that didn’t work out and we ended up grabbing trays of veggie sushi at convenience stores or getting veggie burgers at fast food restaurants. And those veggie burgers were pretty good!
About the Recipe
Japan does all kinds of crazy things with burgers. The veggie burgers we had were pretty standard, but if you’re more meatily-inclined, you can get burgers topped with spaghetti or squid ink ketchup. Burgers made with rice patties instead of buns are also a thing in Japan. I sat with this idea for a while and finally decided to tackle it on my blog, except I wimped out and made the rice patties the patty instead of the bun. (I think it’s better this way for everyone, really. Do you really want a burger between two rice patties? No, you don’t.)
Plain rice would be pretty meh, so I threw in some edamame too. Unlike other beans, edamame doesn’t form a paste when it’s mashed, so these burgers do have a tendency to crumble a little bit if you’re not careful when handling them. To give them a boost of flavor, I brushed them with a teriyaki glaze as they cooked. And because a burger is really only as good as its toppings, I added grilled pineapple, crispy grilled green onions, and an Asian-inspired slaw on top. Yes, there is a lot going on in these burgers! But you really shouldn’t skip any of these parts because the burger reaches maximum deliciousness with all these things combined together.
This is the last burger recipe in my summer of veggie burgers series! (It was also Chris’s favorite.) In case you missed any of them, here they are:
Did I really only do 3 burger recipes this summer? It seemed like so many more. (Should I do fall of veggie burgers too? Winter? A YEAR OF VEGGIE BURGERS?! Hmm.)
- 2 cups frozen shelled edamame thawed
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup teriyaki marinade I like Soy Vay
- oil mister or cooking spray
- 1/2 pineapple cored and cut into 1/4-inch rings
- 4 green onions
- 3/4 cup coleslaw mix
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 –6 hamburger buns
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pulse the edamame in a food processor until it's coarsely chopped. Transfer the edamame to to a large bowl. Stir in the rice, sesame seeds, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Fold in the egg.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the burger mixture onto the baking sheet in 4–6 mounds (4 for bigger burgers, 6 for smaller ones), then press each mound into a patty. Bake the burgers for 15 minutes, then brush with the teriyaki marinade and bake for 10 minutes more.
- While the burgers are baking, heat an indoor grill to Sear (or High if yours doesn't have a Sear setting; a grill pan works too if you don't have an indoor grill). Spray the grates with oil and grill both sides of the pineapple and onions until the pineapple is has grill marks and the onions are crispy. Break the onions into small pieces.
- Toss the coleslaw mix with the vinegar, sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place each burger patty on a bun, then top with grilled pineapple, slaw, and crispy green onions.