The second bonus recipe featured in Shokugeki no Soma is the Improvised Mackerel Burger Meal. Its an important plot dish, since this meal allowed Souma to pass the Polar Star Initiation Test.
So what about the dish itself?
A burger patty that isn’t made of beef isn’t a totally revolutionary concept. I’ve tried several vegetarian patty like mushroom and beans, to name a few. Though, this is the first time I’ve known that fish could be used as the main patty ingredient.
My first thought was wouldn’t the meat taste fishy?
Unlike vegetables like mushroom and beans, I know mackerels and tunas have a distinct taste that might be pretty hard to cover up. Curious, I made it on the kitchen and while it didn’t turn out to be aesthetically pleasing (my burger looks like a misshapen lump of clay than a circle), it tasted good, if perhaps a little bit bland. Don’t worry though, the blandness would go away the moment you pour the sauce on the patty leaving you with a delicious treat.
Also, contrary to my worries, there isn’t any fishy taste on the meat itself. In fact, depending on what brand you get, you’ll probably get the fishy taste more on the sauce side.
Nutrition-wise, this is perhaps healthier than the usual burger, since it’s not made of red meat. Mackerel have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. Canned fishes also have the same nutrition as fresh.
As for the way, it was used in the plot.
I suppose that the dish shows how creative Souma is, how he can make do even with so little.
But, to me, as someone who lived in the dorms; I appreciate the symbolism of Souma passing the dorm test with a delicious meal made of leftovers. In the dorms, there are many times when you have to make do with leftover food or cook canned meals or instant food.
The fact that Souma passed the test using both types of test makes me happy.
Its almost like a stealth nod to us poor students. ^^
Other Plot Implications:
First, after I’ve reread the beginning because of this recipe, I’ve realized something that I should have a long time ago. Polar Star Dormitory is the only dormitory available on campus.
As quoted above, most students would rent nearby apartments or commute using to Totsuki everyday so there is no need for a dormitory. Together with its decline, Polar Star Dormitory has become unknown that people working on Totsuki doesn’t even know it existed.
… Which makes it kinda suspicious that Soma has a pamphlet listing the Polar Star Dormitory. Later chapters made me realize that it could be part of the plan concocted by Sanzaemon and Jouichirro. We already know that the director isn’t above scheduling things so that Erina would be the examiner when Souma took the test. Considering Jouichiro himself probably has good memories of the dorm itself and how Polar Star Dorm is considered its own property separate from Totsuki, putting Souma in Polar Star Dormitory may be a way of safeguarding him as well as ensuring his improvement as a chef.
Another implication for Polar Star Dormitory being the only dormitory is it could be the reason why the members have better skills than the average student body. After all, as the lone dormitory since everyone rents apartment or just commute meant that it’s the only place which has a test. Thus, there is a filter in place that only allows people of sufficient skills and determination to dorm there.
… Come to think of it, the test is also probably the reason why the Polar Star Dorm is forgotten. If it is hard enough that almost no one passes on the first try not to mention the age of the dorm i00tself, it maybe not worth it to the average student.
Finally, to those who want to try making this food, you should check out the links below.
Yukihira-Brand Kitchen-Clearing Mackerel Hamburg Set! by Immanuelbear —> This is the video, I followed to make my own hamburger. Has clear, concise instruction and a good background music to make you feel like you’re one of the Totsuki top chef.
Improvised Canned Tuna Hamburger by Vena HX —> For those people who don’t have any canned mackerel handy. Canned Tuna is also an option!