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Technique: Umami-Infused Cheese and Ketchup
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Chef Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger, Los Angeles CA
Chef Adam Fleischman
Umami Burger
850 South La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 931-3000
www.umamiburger.com
+ Click images to enlarge
Manly Burger with Beer-Cheddar Cheese, Onion Rings and Bacon Lardons

Technique: Umami-Infused Cheese and Ketchup
Chef Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger – Los Angeles, CA
January 2010

In this burger-obsessed era, it’s helpful to approach the patty from an original slant, be it the locally-sourced meat, the bun, or even the cheese. Umami is the single and singular unifying theme at Chef Adam Fleischman’s Umami Burger joints in Los Angeles; his Manly Burger undoubtedly packs an umami-full punch. While the beef alone is an umami-rich food, Fleischman takes it to the next level by infusing umami ingredients into the least expected places: the cheese and the ketchup.

Fleischman makes cheese slices to adorn his burgers, not only to enrich them with umami, but also to control the melting quality of the cheese. He looks to the waxy slices of processed American cheese as his model—he likes the way they don’t melt too much. He starts with a pot of simmering beer, preferably a smooth and fairly mild ale like a New Castle or Sam Adams. He then stirs in sodium citrate, which acts as a thickening agent, followed by a mixture of Cheddar and umami-laden parmesan, whisking continuously until a medium-bodied viscosity is reached. The density and texture of the simmering cheese mixture at this point in the process is what the chef aims to later recreate once individual cheese slices are melted on the burger. Fleischman then pours the cheese evenly onto a Silpat mat which he transfers to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set.

But umami doesn’t flavor just the beef patty and the beer cheddar cheese. Fleischman sneaks in yet another soupçon of umami into his house-made ketchup. The base of the ketchup, a purée of umami-rich San Marzano tomatoes, sets the tone. Fleischman further develops the savory currents of the sauce with a mixture of fried onion, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt, all puréed together and then set to cool for a minimum of 10 hours. The chef finishes the ketchup with his “umami seasonings,” a blend of umami-rich ingredients including salted anchovies, tamarind, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, truffle salt, harissa, and fish sauce, all stirred into the ketchup a few hours before service. Once the bell rings for a Manly Burger, the ketchup is spread onto the toasted bun, ensuring that this triple-decker sandwich is steeped in umami from burger to bun.

While the cheese and ketchup are at the forefront of Fleischman’s umami-infusing techniques, the smoky fried onion rings and the bacon lardons also play a supporting role, masterfully finishing off the smoky, savory and chewy dynamic of this ever-so-savory ground round.

For the Cheese:
Step 1: Bring the beer to a simmer in a large pot.
Step 2: Add sodium citrate and stir.
Step 3: Add cheese and whisk thoroughly.
Step 4: Pour cheese evenly onto a Silpat and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Once hardened, cut the cheese into 4-inch x 4-inch squares.
Step 5: Lay the cheese slice on the cooked burger patty and melt in a broiler.

For the Ketchup:
Step 1: Pour can of tomatoes into a blender and purée until smooth.
Step 2: Sauté onions in a pan over medium heat.
Step 3: Stir in tomato purée, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt and let mixture simmer for about 1 hour.
Step 4: Transfer mixture back to blender and purée until smooth.
Step 5: Pour into a container and let cool in refrigerator for roughly 10 hours.
Step 6: Mix in the umami seasonings: salted anchovies, tamarind, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, truffle salt, harissa, and fish sauce.

Manly Burger with Beer-Cheddar Cheese, Onion Rings and Bacon Lardons
Chef Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger – Los Angeles, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com
January 2010
Yield: 1 Serving


INGREDIENTS

Ketchup:
1 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dark brown sugar 
½ cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 salted anchovies, cleaned and puréed
Tamari
Worcestershire
Oyster sauce
Truffle salt
Harissa
Fish sauce

Beer-Cheddar Cheese:
12 ounces ale (like New Castle or Sam Adams)
1½  tablespoons sodium citrate
2½ pounds hard Cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Onion Rings:
1 cup buttermilk
Smoked paprika or regular paprika
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, sliced
Flour
Smoked salt
Canola oil

To Assemble and Serve:
Hamburger bun
Dijon mustard
Hamburger patty, medium-rare
Bacon lardons, cooked

METHOD

For the Ketchup:
Pour the tomatoes, including all the juice, into a blender and purée until smooth. At the same time, heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Fry the onions and stir frequently for about 8 minutes or until the onions are tender. Stir in the puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt and let the mixture simmer in the pot, uncovered. Continue to cook for about 1 hour or until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Put the mixture in the blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a container and let it chill overnight, or for at least 10 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and add the “umami seasonings” to taste: anchovies, tamarind, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, truffle salt, harissa, and fish sauce. Let the ketchup sit for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.  

For the Beer-Cheddar Cheese:
Bring the ale to a simmer in a large pot. Add the sodium citrate to the pot and incorporate thoroughly. Slowly begin to whisk in the cheeses until a viscous but not too runny consistency is reached. Set your Silpat baking mat into a sheet pan and then pour the cheese evenly over the mat at 3/8 of an inch deep. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until hard. Remove from the refrigerator and use a ring mold or dull palette knife to cut the cheese to the desired size.

For the Onion Rings:
In a bowl, season the buttermilk with the paprika, salt and pepper. Soak the onions in the buttermilk for 3 minutes. Strain the onions, then evenly coat in the flour. Season with more paprika, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until golden and crisp. Remove the onions from the pan and lay on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with the smoked salt.

To Assemble and Serve:
Toast the bun until golden. Spread Dijon mustard on the bottom slice and the umami ketchup on the top slice. Lay the slice of cheese atop a medium-rare burger and melt under the broiler for 2 minutes. Put the cheeseburger patty onto the bun and top with the onion rings and bacon lardons.

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  •   Published: January 2010
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