Japanese Grilled Plum Burgers with Panko-Sesame Onion Straws

Pairs well with:


Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.


2 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
3 tablespoons tamari, plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons black bean sauce
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided

12 slices thick-cut black pepper bacon, halved
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped shitake mushrooms
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped bok choy
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger root

Panko-Sesame Onion Straws
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup very thinly sliced yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
4 plums, halved, pitted
6 sesame seed buns, split
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, in a large bowl, add chuck, 3 tablespoons tamari, black bean sauce and 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce. Combine well, handling the meat as little as possible; form into 6 patties, cover, and refrigerate until ready to grill.

Heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Wrap in foil to keep warm.

Drain off the bacon fat from the skillet, wipe out skillet with paper towels, and set back on the grill. Add sesame oil and heat until hot; stir in mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in bok choy, carrot, additional 2 tablespoons tamari, rice wine vinegar, garlic and ginger, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until wilted; transfer to a medium bowl, cover and keep warm.

Set skillet back on the grill; add vegetable oil and heat until hot. Meanwhile, place flour in a small bowl. Whisk together egg and milk in a small bowl. In an additional small bowl, whisk together panko and sesame seeds. Dip the onion into the flour to coat completely, followed by egg mixture. followed by panko mixture. Drop onions into the hot oil, and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning frequently, or until golden brown; transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Brush additional 3 tablespoons hoisin evenly on both sides of plums. Place plums cut side down on rack; grill 6-8 minutes, flipping once, or until softened and grill marks are achieved. Remove from grill, thinly slice, and set aside.

Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5-6 minutes on each side for medium. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble the burgers, stir together mayonnaise and wasabi, in a small bowl, until combined; evenly divide and spread the wasabi mayonnaise over cut sides of buns. Evenly divide the mushroom-bok choy mixture onto each bun bottom, followed by bacon strips, then patties. Top with grilled plums and panko-sesame onion straws. Add bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers