Asian Style Turkey Burgers

Back in May, John and I made a trip back to Cleveland. We lived there together for two years while he finished medical school. We had an amazing time visiting good friends, seeing how our old neighborhood has changed, and devouring delicious new finds in Cleveland’s always amazing dining scene. One of our favorite discoveries was Happy Dog. When we lived there, Happy Dog was a concert venue with a huge bar but lacking a liquor license, but now it’s got liquor license intact and sells hot dogs with a toppings list a mile long.

We’re talking everything from grape jelly to kimchi. I perused the menu trying not to drool too much before finally settling on a combination of black truffle honey mustard, caramelized onions, and garlicky escarole with a side of tater tots with saffron aioli. Never have I been so deliriously happy with a hot dog… well, okay, there’s one other hot dog place that makes me that happy. I soon grew sad that we didn’t live in Cleveland because there were still so many other toppings I wanted to try. My full stomach said no, but my heart kept wanting me to order one more dog so I could try another topping– their coca cola baby bok choy stir fry.

Alas, John forced me to listen to reason and we walked away before I could order a second dog, but I thought about the idea of baby bok choy as a topping for a sandwich when I looked at yet another giant bag of the vegetable from our CSA. With ground turkey on sale from our grocery delivery service, I thought why not make turkey burgers with some garlicky, wilted baby bok choy?

Our CSA share also included a bunch of cilantro and when I see cilantro and bok choy together, my taste buds automatically start anticipating the flavors of hoisin sauce and the crunch of water chestnuts– it must be something embedded deep in my memory from childhood. So I added soy sauce and hoisin sauce to the ground turkey for flavor then chopped up some water chestnuts, a bit of the baby bok choy, and some cilantro and chives to ensure that these burgers had plenty of elements to add texture as well as moisture since lean turkey has little fat in the first place to keep the burgers moist after cooking. I then chopped up the rest of the baby bok choy and cooked it with plenty of garlic while the burgers were on the grill, topping off the burgers with that stir fry in place of your usual lettuce and tomato burger topping.

Man oh man were these burgers delicious! The hoisin and the garlic add a little bit of spice that paired nicely with the cooling, green flavors of the cilantro, chives, and baby bok choy. The water chestnuts added a pleasing crunch, contrasting with the softness of the turkey meat, reminiscent for me at least of what I enjoy the most when eating dumplings at dim sum. If you’re looking for a way to switch up your burgers for your Labor Day weekend cookout, you should definitely give these a try.

Note: I topped my burgers with a mix of mayo and a pistachio hazelnut cumin nut butter that was purchased at a local outdoor market. The mayo mixture was also great on the grilled sweet potatoes that we had on the side. Realizing that the average pantry is not likely to have this delicious nut butter, you could try mixing some mayo with a bit of garlic, cumin and Asian five spice powder. Alternatively, I bet a mix of ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce would also be amazing on these burgers. That mix is certainly a favorite in this household for grilled french fries.

  • 5 baby bok choy
  • 1.25 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced and divided
  • 8 oz water chestnuts, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • toasted sesame oil
  • canola oil
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • hamburger buns

Finely chop one baby bok choy and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, 1 minced garlic clove (about 1 teaspoon), the chopped water chestnuts, chives, and cilantro. Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil. Using your hands, mix all of the bowl contents together until just combined then form into four patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with steak seasoning.

Grill patties over direct heat on a hot grill, 6-7 minutes per side or until burgers are completely cooked through. While burgers are on the grill, rough chop the remaining baby bok choy and heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is rippling, add the chopped baby bok choy and the remaining minced garlic cloves and stir fry until the stalks of the bok choy are tender and the leaves have wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Place patties on buns and top with the stir fry bok choy. Yields 4 burgers.

CSA Count: 4

Baby bok choy, chives, cilantro, garlic


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