A Japanese Inspired Thanksgiving Meal Recipe

image: korokke

In this post, I want to share a Japanese inspired Thanksgiving. When the challenge of a unique and original take on the Thanksgiving feast came knocking on my door, I had to answer the call. It was too good to pass up. It had to incorpora

te the traditional flavours of the holidays and embrace the same kind of satisfaction one feels while enjoying a meal like this.

So I started by thinking about the most comforting aspects of the Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberries, a hearty and savoury gravy. These are the things we pile on our plates and savour with reckless abandon and these are the things I wanted to include in my dish. I picked a Japanese style presentation because I wanted to showcase simple techniques that made a beautiful end result and I have always thought that Japanese family meals were so artfully put together.

The end result: A potato korokke with turkey and cranberries, stuffed with gruyere and topped with a rich red miso gravy. To accompany, I made a simple yakitori with quail with a marinade of soy, mirin and sesame oil.

Korokke:

  • 4 medium potatoes, yellow
  • butter
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, thyme, pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • flour
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 C Gruyere, grated
  • canola oil for deep frying

Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Once tender, drain the potatoes, return to the pot and continue to toss the potatoes over the residual heat to evaporate the remaining surface moisture. The texture of the potatoes should look a little fluffy. Mash the potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper and add the butter. When the potatoes are smooth, set aside in a large mixing bowl.

In a skillet with a little oil, start frying your ground turkey and cranberries. season with your favourite poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. When the meat is completely cooked, transfer to the bowl of potatoes and combine. Pop the potato mixture into the fridge and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cool, set up your dredging station. You will need a plate with flour, one with beaten egg, and the final one with panko. Right next to that, position your bowl of potatoes and the shredded Gruyere. Take a scoop of the potato and put a layer in your palm. Then take a bit of Gruyere and place in the middle. Take another scoop of potato and put on top. Shape the potato in your hands til you get a nice oblong patty. Coat the patties in flour, the egg then finally the panko. Let your completed korokke rest in the fridge again for another 15 minutes to firm up.

Heat some oil in a small pot or wok to 375 F. If you don’t have a deep fryer, I highly suggest you get yourself a thermometer for this type of stuff. You can use it for high temp work like candy, etc. Once your oil reaches temperature, carefully lower the korokke into the oil using a slotted spoon. You don’t want the korokke to brown too fast, so monitor the first one to see if you need to lower the temperature. Once your korokke are a golden brown, take out and drain on a plate of paper towels.

Miso Gravy:

  • 2 C water
  • 2T red miso
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • dash of soy sauce
  • dash of sesame oil
  • a little flour and water to thicken (or corn starch)

This is a really easy way to make a hearty gravy in a hurry. Start by bringing the water to a simmer in a pan then add the miso. Grab a whisk and start to beat the miso until it combines with the water. Once the miso is completely dissolved, add the mustard, soy and sesame oil. When the mixture comes to a boil, set the heat to low and add the thickening agent. You can use a paste of flour and water or cornstarch. Whisk and simmer until your gravy is thick and smooth.

Quail Yakitori:

  • 6 quails
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 2T sesame oil
  • 1T mirin
  • 1T ginger, grated
  • a clove garlic, minced

To prepare the quail, grab a pair of kitchen shears and snip out the backbone on either side. Turn over and cut the center of the breastbone, making 2 complete halves. In a mixing bowl, combine the other ingredients and mix well. Put the quails into the marinade and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 min (overnight would be awesome). While you wait, soak some bamboo skewers in water.

When the quails are ready to rock, prepare the heat by preheating the broiler to full blast. Alternatively, you can fire up the grill to medium heat. Skewer the quails by running them through the meatiest part of the thigh and breast, making sure that you leave no part of the stick exposed (except the handle of course).

Season your birds with salt and pop into the broiler or onto the grill. Stay close because quail cooks fast, like 10 minutes tops. Baste with the leftover marinade and be sure to turn halfway through the cooking process. As soon as your birds are done, take them off the heat and set on a plate to rest. Season with a little salt to taste.

Assembly and plating

Set your korroke on the plate and top with miso gravy. Garnish with more dried cranberries for colour. Finally, add the skewered quail and that’s it! I like to serve this with mixed greens with a simple sesame dressing and some fresh cherry tomatoes. You can also use shredded cabbage, as this is the traditional accompaniment with korokke. Enjoy!

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