Shrimp and tofu mini-burgers (tsukune) with red pepper sauce

shrimp_tsukune.jpg

There are already several mini-burger or tsukune dumpling type of recipes here, but here's another one. What can I say - mini-burgers are just perfect for bentos: they taste good when they are cold, can be made in quantity, and usually freeze very well.

This time it's a shrimp and tofu version, adapted quite a bit from a recipe in a recent issue of Kyou no ryouri: Beginners (Today's Cooking: Beginners) magazine. It's best when made with fresh shrimp, but uncooked frozen shrimp is fine. You probably don't want to be messing around with shrimp paste in the morning, so it can made it the night before (have some for dinner too - it's great hot) or freeze a batch. The sweet-hot red pepper jam I've used as a sauce goes very well with it, but if you don't want to go to the trouble of making the jam, use a sweet or hot bottled chili sauce.

Recipe: Shrimp and tofu mini-burgers or pan-fried tsukune

To make about 20-24 mini-burgers, depending on how big you make them

  • 400g / 14 oz. peeled and deveined fresh or frozen (uncooked) shrimp
  • 200g / 7 oz. firm tofu
  • 1 Tbs. sake or mirin
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/2 Tbs. or so grated fresh ginger
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms (or substitute 4 regular button mushrooms)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 small egg (or 1 large egg minus about a teaspoonful of egg white)
  • Oil for cooking

The sauce:

Note: This is much easier to make if you have a food processor, though you can do it by hand.

Sprinkle the shrimp with sake and set aside. (This takes away any 'fishiness' from the shrimp, as well as adding flavor. See the role of alcohol article.)

Cut the tofu into chunks. Put the tofu in a pot of boiling water to cover, and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain, and let rest in a colander until cool enough to handle. Squeeze out excess moisture by gathering up the tofu in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. (You can also use the microwave mathod of draining tofu described here.) Squish the tofu to crumble it up.

Chop up the green onions and mushrooms. Chop up the shrimp with a knife or in a food processor - you don't want a paste, but a slightly chunky texture. Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and mix together well (or pulse it all together in a food processor).

Heat up a large frying pan or two pans with a little oil. Form the mixture into small burgers or meatballs with wet hands, and put into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown.

If you are going to freeze the burgers, stop at this point, let them cool to room temperature and pack away in freezer containers or bags. They should be consumed within a month.

To add the sauce: Reheat the mini-burgers if necessary, in a dry pan. Add about 1 teaspoon of jam per burger to a hot pan, and coat them rapidly. Let cool before packing into your bento box.

More mini-burgers?

Astute readers may have spotted that that this is not that different from the tuna tofu miso mini burgers, but shrimp gives them a whole new texture and flavor.

Here are some more already on Just Bento and Just Hungry:

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