There was a time when it seemed like every corner restaurant had embraced “fusion” cuisine– the idea of combining foods from two different cultures to create new flavors. While the concept has been done and overdone, the idea has a lot of merit. Certain regional cuisines work well together, playing off each other in a most natural way. This weekend at The Big Traveling Potluck, I was talking with my friend Rachael Hutchings from La Fuji Mama about how Japanese and Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine actually have a lot in common. Both regions rely on fresh vegetables and fish as dietary staples, and cooks in both areas like to fry things up light and crisp (think tempura and falafel). The fusion concept works particularly well here, because so many regional ingredients from these two areas seem to work naturally together.
As we talked, I was reminded of an older recipe of mine which I hadn’t revisited for quite some time. My Crispy Panko Chickpea Patties are a perfect example of a Japanese/Middle Eastern fusion dish. I recently went back to retest this recipe and made quite a few adjustments. The original recipe called for soaked chickpeas, but when I made them again they cooked up really crunchy and falafel-like. I felt like the light and crisp texture of the panko was lost to the crunchiness of the soaked beans. I made them a few more times using cooked chickpeas, which made a softer center and allowed the panko to cook up golden and crunchy. Using cooked (or canned) chickpeas also helped the mixture to hold together better, making it easier to form patties. Finally, I tested a baked option for those who don’t like to deep fry. It’s not as delish as the fried version, but it does have a lot less fat/oil, so it’s a good option for those who are watching their weight.
These patties have become my new go-to vegetarian burger option. I like serving them on slider buns with a variety of toppings. They are also great on their own dipped in tahini sauce (click for recipe). The heat can be adjusted to taste. They’re good enough to make me jump on the fusion cuisine bandwagon. Panko for the win!
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- 3 1/2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - cooked or canned and drained
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp minced fresh garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp salt (if you’re salt sensitive, use ½ tsp)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste (if spice sensitive, start with 1/4 tsp)
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Grapeseed oil for frying
- Fit your food processor with a metal blade attachment. Place cooked chickpeas, chopped parsley, eggs, cumin, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper into the food processor.
- Pulse the ingredients together just a few times till the chickpeas are chopped and the ingredients are mixed. Scrape the sides of the processor after a few pulses. Do not over-process or you’ll get hummus—stop when the mixture is still rough and only partially hummus-like.
- Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir in the panko breadcrumbs till well mixed.
- Form the chickpea mixture into small slider-sized patties, ¼ cup mixture per patty.
- Fill a skillet with grapeseed oil to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat till hot enough to fry. Before frying my first batch of patties, I like to test the oil temperature by frying one patty in the center of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take about 2-3 minutes per side to brown (5-6 minutes total). If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your patties will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again. This is also a good opportunity to taste the first cooked test patty and adjust seasonings, if desired, adding more cayenne for a spicier patty or more salt to taste.
- When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the patties in batches of 4 till golden brown on both sides.When the patties are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon or spatula. Let them drain on paper towels. Serve the patties fresh and hot; they go best with creamy tahini sauce. You can serve them on their own, or on slider-sized buns with a variety of burger-like toppings.
- These patties can also be baked. They won't turn out as yummy as they do when they're fried, but if you're watching your diet, here is the process for baking them. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray. Place the patties onto the baking sheet.
- Drizzle them evenly with 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil (a little over 1/4 tsp of oil per patty). Bake the patties for 20 minutes.Flip them and drizzle again with another 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil. Continue baking for another 20 minutes till browned on both sides.
- Note: as written, these patties have a kick, but they aren't overly spicy. Test one patty for flavor, as noted above, before frying the whole batch. If you’re spice-sensitive, start with 1/4 tsp cayenne and add more to taste. I like them spicy, so I usually add about 3/4 tsp cayenne.