Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of rice burgers –
but now I’m a total convert. I have to credit the fabulous Green Rocket Café with
introducing me to this sublime concept. It’s basically a giant crispy arancini,
served in a bun with some yummy toppings. In this case I made a creamy tomato
and oregano risotto, which I then fried up for the rice burger, and served with
crispy halloumi and homemade guacamole (although they’re from different
culinary families, I think halloumi and guacamole are a match made in heaven). The
result is a gorgeous vegetarian ‘burger’ that knocks bean burgers right out of
A small glass of red wine
A small handful of fresh oregano, finely chopped
Vegetable oil, for frying
A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
A couple of thick slices of halloumi
This dish does require a little bit of faffing around, as
you need to make the risotto first, so if you wanted to spread that out, you
could make a larger quantity of risotto, have some for dinner one night, and
then save some to make the burgers the following night (just pop it in the
fridge). A quick note on the breadcrumbs – you can buy panko, but I make my
own, which is surprisingly easy. Use a food processor to break stale bread down
into crumbs, spread on a baking tray and toast under the grill until crispy.
Then use a rolling pin to grind them down into really fine crumbs. It's worth taking the time to do these extra steps, as really dry breadcrumbs with give you a lovely crispy crust when fried. Leave them
spread out on the tray, ready to coat the burgers later.
Finely chop the onion and the garlic, and fry gently in a
slug of olive oil and a scoop of melted butter – keep the heat fairly low, so
that the onion doesn't start to crisp. When it’s nicely softened, add the
risotto rice and fry for a few minutes, and then turn up the heat to medium and
pour in the red wine. Let it sizzle for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally,
until most of the liquid has been absorbed. In the meantime, boil the kettle.
Once most of the wine has been absorbed, add a splash of
boiling water and stir regularly, as the rice absorbs the water. Repeat twice
more. Next, add the passata, 100 ml at a time, again stirring well and allowing
the rice to absorb the liquid. Then go back to adding water, until the rice is
nicely cooked – it shouldn't require too much more. Season well with salt and
pepper, stir through the chopped oregano, and then finally mix in a little
grated Cheddar. Put on one side to cool.
Next, make the guacamole. I just popped all the
ingredients into my mini-processor and blended them, but you could mash the
avocado by hand if you prefer a chunkier guacamole.
Now’s probably a good time to put your chips on, whether
you’re oven-baking them or using a fryer. When they've got about ten minutes
left to cook, you need to start frying the burgers. With clean dry hands, shape
the cold risotto into two balls, then place on the tray of breadcrumbs and gently
press down into a round patty about 2cm thick. Use a spatula to carefully flip
them over a few times, so they’re nicely coated with crumbs all over.
In a deep saucepan, heat vegetable oil to a depth of
about 1cm. It needs to get really nice and hot – you can test this by dropping
in a few of the breadcrumbs. They need to fizz and sizzle on the surface of the
oil. When that happens, use the spatula to lower the burgers into the oil. They’ll
need 3 or 4 minutes on each side.
While the burgers are cooking, fry the slices of halloumi
with a little splash of olive oil, until light brown on each side.
When the burgers are ready, they should be golden and
crispy. Scoop them up with a slotted spatula, allowing the oil to drain off,
then pop onto the bottom burger bun and top with the halloumi slices and a good
dollop of guacamole. Serve with fries and a cold beer.