Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Asian Spiced Burgers with a Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce

Another rainy day at the Carroll Gardens farmers market yesterday. Somehow it always seems to rain when I'm heading to that side of the borough. Luckily, a little rain doesn't stop the vendors from coming out. I was coming off of another long day of shooting, and despite the plethora of meat I was surrounded by all week, I was craving a burger. But not just any ordinary burger. I have to admit up front that I stole the idea of this Asian influenced burger from one of the chefs on the show I'm producing. He used a pork sausage removed from the case, but I wanted something lighter and leaner, so I thought I'd go with ground poultry.

When I arrived at the farmers market, I spotted a large meat stand right away. The sight of this almost made me change my mind and get beef, but then I saw a small table giving samples of pan fried turkey burgers. I rarely order turkey burgers because often I find the meat is dried out, and over cooked, but this cooked up so lovely that I knew that is what I was going to go with. I bought a pound for about $7, which is a little pricey for ground meat, but not too bad when you realize you get 4 burgers out of it.

Now this recipe is more of a meat loaf style burger in the sense that I mix a few ingredients into the meat rather than putting lots of ingredients on top. The "marinade," and I use that word loosely since most of the ingredients in this are dry, consists of shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and shallots. When I got to the mushroom table the woman was almost completely out of shiitakes, but there were just enough there for the burgers. I bought the rest that she had, a little under a half pound, for a pricey $7, and continued on down to the fruits and veggies.

I bought an almost too ripe tomato for $4/lb, and a shallot for practically nothing. Then I picked up a couple of rolls and some mescalin greens to go with the burgers, and some scallions for the dipping sauce. On my way out of the market I spotted some blackberries sitting on the end of a table. I couldn't find a place for them in this dish, but they're one of my favorite fruits so I picked up a pint to snack on as I cooked. I'm so glad blackberry season is here!

Today I purchased:

At the farmers market:
1 lb of ground turkey meat
Just shy of a half pound of shiitake mushrooms
1 shallot
2 bulky rolls
small bag of mescalin greens
1 bunch of scallions
1 ripe tomato
1 pint of blackberries

Supplementary ingredients I had at home:
Soy Sauce
Chinese 5 spice (can buy at most higher end markets or any Asian market)
Chinese rice wine vinegar
Mirin (also can buy at most higher end markets or any Asian market)
1 Lime
Fresh Ginger
Agave sweetener
Sesame oil
Wok oil

Recipe: Chinese 5 Spice Burgers with a Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce

(for the burger)
1 lb of ground turkey
3 oz of shiitake mushrooms, finely minced
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large shallot, finely minced
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of mirin
1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of Wok oil

(for the sauce)
1/4 cup of soy sauce
A little less than a 1/4 cup of Chinese rice wine vinegar
1 squeeze of lime juice
1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of Agave nectar
1 scallion, green part
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 squirts of sriracha

mescalin greens

Finely mince the mushrooms (about 8-10 small to medium shiitakes), shallots and garlic. Put the tablespoon of wok oil (or vegetable oil if you don't have wok oil) in a medium saute pan and heat to medium heat. When warm, throw in the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Saute a couple of minutes until they begin to soften. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, the 1 tablespoon of soy and mirin, and 1/2 teaspoon of the Chinese 5 spice. Cook until the liquid has burned off. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture before mixing it with the burgers.

Put the ground turkey meat in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, and the other 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice. Mix together. Next, add the cooled mushroom mixture to the meat and blend in. I do this with my hands. It's a little messy, but it's the best way to integrate the mixture throughout all of the meat. Lastly, I add the other tablespoon of soy sauce to the turkey and mix it in until it's well incorporated. Put the turkey in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Now that the turkey is marinating, it the perfect time to prepare the dipping sauce. Finely chop the garlic and ginger and slice 1 scallion into little pieces. In a small metal bowl, mix all of the ingredients (the soy sauce, Chinese rice wine vinegar, a squeeze of lime, 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (you can use honey if you want here too, but I find the agave easier to work with), the garlic, ginger, and scallion, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 2 squirts of the sriracha depending on how spicy you want the sauce.) Mix with a small whisk or fork, then refrigerate while you're waiting to cook the burgers.

Once the meat has marinated for about an hour, heat your grill pan to high, or an outdoor grill to high direct heat. Remember to oil your grill so the burgers don't stick. I separated the meat into 4 patties, about 1/4 lb. each. I cooked the turkey burgers a little longer than I would regular burgers, which amounted to about 6 minutes on each side. This produced a perfectly juicy, but cooked through burger.

My buns were a bit too big for the burger size, so consider how big you want to make your burgers when you buy your buns. I placed each burger on a bun then drizzled the dipping sauce on top. I sliced the tomato and put a piece on top of the burger, then some of the mescalin greens on top of that.

This recipe came out very well. The turkey had just the right mix of sweet, salty, and spice, and the dipping sauce was tangy without being too strong. You could also put some Chinese spicy mustard on these to give them a slightly different flavor. Enjoy the rainy week!

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