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Spicy Cumin Turkey Burgers

A loosely-inspired "rou jia mo" (Chinese hamburger) using ground turkey flavoured with spices, topped with fresh herbs, sandwiched in between a soft bun.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 349kcal
Author Michelle



  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 3 g sea salt
  • 1 g Chinese 5-spice powder optional
  • 155 g warm water
  • 5 g granulated sugar
  • 7 g active dry yeast

Turkey patties:

  • 500 g lean ground turkey
  • ½ large onion minced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 32 ml light soy sauce
  • 16 ml dark soy sauce
  • 10 ml avocado oil or vegetable oil
  • 10 ml shaoxing wine
  • 13 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g Sichuan peppercorns ground
  • 3 g cinnamon ground
  • 30 g cumin ground
  • 15 g fennel ground
  • 10 g coriander ground


  • drippings from the baked turkey patties about 2 Tbsp, or 30ml
  • 15 ml light soy sauce
  • 60 g water divided
  • 2 star anise whole
  • 1 small cinnamon stick whole
  • 1 bay leaf whole
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g cornstarch
  • 15 g tahini sesame paste


  • 30 g chopped cilantro
  • 30 g chopped green onions
  • 2 fresh chilies optional
  • ¼ cucumber thinly sliced


Make the dough for the buns:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a regular mixer if necessary), add in the flour, baking powder, salt and Chinese 5-spice powder (if using).
  • In a separate bowl, add in the warm water, sugar, yeast and give it a stir. Let the yeast activate and pour it into the flour mixture.
  • Using the dough hook, knead the dough until it is smooth, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm location, about 1 hour.
  • Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 6 equal portions, about 70g each.
  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a long oval. Next, roll it up lengthwise. Then, coil it up like a snail and press down to flatten to about 3" in diameter.
  • Place the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Cover the dough and let it rest for about 20 minutes. It will become slightly puffy.
  • Preheat a flat griddle (or a frying pan) over medium high heat and lay the dough onto the griddle (or pan). (I could fit 6 on my griddle, but if you're using a frying pan, you may be able to fit up to 2).
  • Lay a large parchment paper over top of the dough and use the back of another fry pan or similar sized pan to press firmly on top of the dough. Let the pan sit on top for 1 minute before carefully flipping it over to cover the dough.
  • Lower the heat to minimum and cook for about 5 minutes on one side.
  • Remove the top pan and flip the dough. Cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown in colour.

Make the turkey patties:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey meat with the onion, garlic, soy sauce, oil, shaoxing wine, sugar, and all the spices. Mix to combine thoroughly.
  • You can cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for additional flavour or make them right away.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Divide turkey meat into 6 equal portions, about 80g each. Use your hands to form into a flat round patty, about 2.5" wide.
  • Place each patty onto a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165°F in the centre of the patty.
  • Remove the turkey patties (keep the drippings) and cover.

Make the sauce:

  • Pour the drippings into a small saucepan.
  • Add in soy sauce, 30g water, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the star anise, cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 30g water with 15g cornstarch until you have a slurry.
  • Bring the soy sauce mixture up to medium heat and add in the cornstarch slurry. Whisk until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the tahini sesame paste. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a little water to thin it out.


  • Cut the bun in half crosswise, about ¾s of the way (don't cut the bun entirely).
  • Lay a turkey patty on one bun, smear with the sauce and garnish with cilantro, green onions, and chili (optional). Add cucumber slices if you wish.
  • Serve immediately.


Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 876mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 602IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 7mg