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Recipe: An Asian-style turkey burger

If you think just because you use ground turkey to make a burger it's automatically healthier, you could be in for a big surprise.

If you think just because you use ground turkey to make a burger it's automatically healthier, you could be in for a big surprise.

Ground turkey has a reputation for being lean, but there are many varieties available, some with as much as 17 grams of fat in a 4-ounce portion.

At that point, you might as well use ground chuck, which is more flavorful and has only 14 grams of fat.

At the other extreme, you'll want to avoid 99 percent lean ground turkey. It produces dry, flavorless patties.

A good compromise is 93 percent lean ground turkey, which has about 8 grams of fat per serving. But even with that amount of fat, a turkey burger can be lacking in flavor and moisture.

Treating a turkey burger as a tiny meatloaf is a good strategy. Mixing in ingredients such as ketchup, Dijon mustard, chopped onions and fresh herbs will all add moisture and flavor.

Fresh breadcrumbs help to cut the fat by padding the meat. They also soak up and retain moisture so it won't cook out of the burger while on the grill.

Some recipes even call for adding 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese per pound of lean ground turkey to moisten things up. Finely chopped mushrooms are another way to moisten the patty.

This recipe adds flavor with sweet white miso, a nutty, savory Asian paste that's made from fermented rice or barley. Look for it near the tofu in natural food stores and most larger markets.

Fresh ginger and scallions add even more flavor and moisture, and crispy panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs help to lock it all in.

To complete the meal, serve these Asian-style turkey burgers with a side of coleslaw made with rice vinegar and sesame oil dressing.



2 tablespoons sweet white miso

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 pound 93 percent lean ground


1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/3 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

4 whole-wheat hamburger buns

Salt to taste

Heat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal fire.

In a large bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce and ginger. Add the ground turkey, scallions, breadcrumbs and black pepper. Gently but thoroughly mix together. Shape into 4 patties, each about 3/4-inch thick.

To oil the grill grates, dampen a folded paper towel with vegetable oil, hold it with tongs and rub it over the grates.

Grill the burgers until well browned on the underside, about 4 to 5 minutes. With a metal spatula, turn the burgers over carefully. Grill for another 4 to 6 minutes, or until the burgers reach 165 degrees at the thickest part.

Meanwhile, toast the buns at the edge of the grill. Season the burgers with salt and dress with condiments and vegetables as desired. Serves 4.