Topped with tender, miso-glazed roasted eggplant and fresh Asian cucumber pickles, these burgers strike a sweet-savory balance that's hard to resist.
Why this recipe works:
- Using 80-percent lean ground beef guarantees juicy, flavorful burgers.
- Handling the ground beef as little as possible and only seasoning the exterior creates a patty with a perfect hamburger texture that isn't tight like meatloaf.
Note: Mirin is a sweet rice-based wine. It can be found in any Japanese or Asian grocery story. If unavailable, you can make a substitue by heating 1 cup of sake with 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. While you only need 4 slices of eggplant for these burgers, you can (and should) cook even more slices of the eggplant, using the extra glaze, because they're delicious.
- 2 tablespoons mirin (see note)
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 1/4 cup mild red or white miso
- 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 large globe eggplant, cut crosswise into 4 (1/2 inch thick) rounds (see note)
- Vegetable oil, for brushing
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 cups thinly sliced Japanese or English cucumbers (about 2 Japanese or 1/2 English)
- 1 1/2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (4 1/2 inch wide) patties
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Mayonaise, preferably Kewpie, for serving
- Sriracha, for serving
- 4 English muffins, split and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together mirin, sake, miso, and 2 tablespoons sugar until well combined. Set aside.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush eggplant slices with vegetable oil and set on prepared baking sheet. Bake eggplant, turning once, until very tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Add cucumber slices and stir. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of heavy duty paper towels, pressing down until towel is saturated with liquid and in direct contact with the cucumbers. Let rest 10 minutes, then transfer cucumbers to a sealable container. Top up with liquid and discard the rest. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Season patties generously with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness on a hot grill or in a skillet on the stovetop, 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn on broiler. Brush top sides of eggplant slices with miso glaze and broil until browned on top, about 2 minutes. Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on English muffin top halves. Set burger patties on English muffin bottom halves, and top each with an eggplant slice. Top with pickled cucumbers, saving the rest for another use, close burgers and serve immediately.