This carrot burger has required a lot of tinkering, but I think I’m finally on the right track. The trick was figuring out how to cook the carrots. I tried roasting, boiling, and steaming, all of which required that I puree or mash them, resulting in a mushy, disgusting, babyfood burger. While working on a beet burger I’ll share later, it dawned on me: Grate them up and fry ‘em. This solved the texture problem in a huge way, and also allowed me to cook the seasonings at the same time. In the end, I’d like this recipe to have fresh lemongrass in it, but as I’m down in North Carolina for a little stretch, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere.
I only call for a small amount of peanut butter, but that’s because you want to get the good stuff—the natural, unpasteurized, un-fussed-with kind that is made to order at health food stores where they have a peanut butter machine. If you can’t find that, buy something that is as unadulterated as possible, but you may want to add a bit more.
Also, I’m introducing a different cooking method, one that works well for burgers that include egg and are more wet than others (also good for when you want to shape the mixture into big patties). First brown the sides over high heat in some oil, and then finish off the cooking in the oven. This way you get crunch on the exterior and an interior that’s fully cooked and heated through. It’s what restaurants do for all kinds of cuts of meat.
And—holla!—that’s a homemade bun! I would have photos and a recipe (and you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve been taking some really good pictures) but I forgot some important cord and can’t transfer them to my computer. For the time being, that camera phone photo will have to do.
Thai Carrot Burger
Makes 4 burgers
2 T olive or grapeseed oil, divided
1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly, one inch into the dark green part
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 Serrano pepper, chopped up finely, seeded or not, depending on your personal heat threshold
4 cups grated carrots (from about 8 medium size carrots)
3/4 t ground turmeric
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
juice of 1/2 lime
2 egg whites
2 T natural peanut butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large frying pan (which has a lid) over medium heat. Add 1 T of the oil, and when hot, add the scallions. Cook for about two minutes, just until they begin to soften, and then add the garlic, ginger, and pepper. Stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant, and then stir in the carrots, spices, and salt. Cover and let cook for six or eight minutes, until soft but not mushy.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, peanut butter, and lime juice. Fold in the carrot mixture, making sure that everything is well combined, and then fold in the bread crumbs. Let sit for about ten minutes, allowing the bread crumbs to absorb some of the liquid. Adjust seasonings—particularly the salt and lime juice. Shape into 4 patties.
Heat remaining 1 T of oil in an oven-safe skillet or frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the burgers, in batches if necessary, cooking until browned each side—it will only take a minute or a minute-and-a-half per side). Transfer the pan to the oven for five minutes, where the burgers will finish cooking.
Any number of Thai sauces—store bought or homemade—would be good on this. Or serve on toasted wheat buns topped with julienned red cabbage which has been tossed in a bit of rice vinegar and salt and pepper (and fresh cilantro and a spoonful of plain yogurt, if you want to mimic the photo).