These little chicken burgers were not supposed to be anything remotely Asian. I got the foundation of the recipe while confiding in a complete stranger at the local kosher butcher.
“My son is sick of the usual chicken,” I said, “so I am going to try giving him chicken meatballs.”
“Oh,” she offered, “I have a recipe from my grandmother that you could try. You mix ground chicken with grated carrot and grated onion, a little matzoh meal, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper . . . . Then you fry them or bake them. No sauce.”
“Really? So how much matzoh meal? How much of the other ingredients?”
She turned to her elderly mother: “Ma, how much matzoh meal? Half a cup? Yes, that sounds right. To a pound of chicken, plus a whole carrot and a whole onion.”
Okay, I was game. I made the chicken burgers, but they were a little bland by themselves. Then it occurred to me that the burgers were kind of like falshe (mock gefilte fish made with chicken instead of fish). Maybe, I thought, they would be good with horseradish or wasabi.
I decided to go Asian and serve the burgers with wasabi sauce and a salad topped with a carrot ginger dressing. The result was such a huge success that when I made the burgers again, I tweaked the recipe with a little added soy sauce and honey.