A look at making the Asian pork burger similar to what you’d expect out of a traditional diner burger.
Just in case you thought the humble burger was not versatile enough, you learn that it can take on flavor profiles from any region or country. Sure, that means you can stick anything between two sides of the bun and call it a burger, this time it tastes really good.
You could even argue that bánh mì xíu mại (Vietnamese sandwich) is essentially the same, with pork meatballs in a crusty baguette. If you have not enjoyed a bánh mì sandwich, you owe it to yourself, they’re great. One of their standout ingredients is also pickled vegetables bringing a crunch and vinegar tang to the item. We get there, from a slightly different direction, using a slaw incorporating regional flavors.
Most of us are not set up to grind our own meat. Back in the day it was called ‘minced’ and you can get there pretty quick with a sharp knife and cutting board. The only reason to consider mincing your own is that ground pork is usually fattier than most ground beef. You are probably used to beef that runs from 80/20, or 20% fat, down to 93/7, or 7% fat (yes, we are aware that there is 73/27 or 27% fat ground beef, it is just not as common in the grocery).
Pork will usually hang right around 25% fat, sometimes sneaking up to 30% fat, but that number isn’t usually listed. That makes char-grilling the preferred way to go with this dish. That allows the fat to render out while cooking, and go away. ‘Away’ of course means right into your grill and the flames. Be aware that equates to greater flare and flame up while cooking, and a little extra flavor from that too. Unless you do choose to go the route of creating your own mince and control the fat content accordingly.
Flavoring the meat for the burger
As opposed to slapping a nice patty of plain meat on the grill and having all other flavors come from the dressings and toppings, which is the standard burger approach, which we love. We will mix it up, literally in this case, because we are going to add all kinds of delicious flavors that are used in the region’s cooking styles.
Since these are pungent, it is a good idea to get the flavorful add-ins to a size that is enjoyable to eat. We love the flavors that ginger brings, for instance, but biting into a sizable chunk will diminish one’s enjoyment. So, we want these items in very small pieces so their flavors can permeate the burger. Ginger is very fibrous which is why we call for grating it. This process needs to be done across the grain. Typically, fresh ginger is long-ish and round. Peel it, then keep it perpendicular to the grater to get the best affect. For the garlic, go for a very fine mince, working back and forth over it for small pieces. The burger portion of the recipe uses the white end of the scallions which will easily become smaller pieces after being sliced thinly then chopped across the slices.
Slaw for the burger topping
We can easily enjoy buns and breads with just the meat inside. However, we want to bring the contrasts in flavors and textures that you get when you dress up a burger. In this case we will blend all of that together to make a slaw for our burger. We like using napa cabbage, often called Chinese cabbage, because it has milder sweeter flavors and a more delicate texture. The recipe will do just fine with regular green cabbage as well.
While we have added great flavors to the patty, this slaw will bring some additional components. Acid is the first thing we need to help balance the richness of the meat. Even though rice vinegar usually has lower acid than many vinegars, the flavor will do the job. This recipe only calls for a little soy, no actual salt. Instead, you can get flavors to open up with a judicious amount of capsaicin, the heat part of peppers, so we use the Siracha to accomplish that.
Asian Pork Burger Recipe
- 1½ Pounds Ground pork
- 4 Scallions/green onions sliced, divided
- 2-4 Cloves garlic, Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger, grated
- 1 Teaspoon Soy sauce
- 4 Burger buns
- Asian Slaw
- ½ Head napa cabbage approximately
- ½ Red onion
- 1 Medium carrot
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped cilantro
- 2 Teaspoons Mayonnaise
- 2 Teaspoons Rice vinegar
- 1½ Teaspoon Sesame seed oil
- ½ Teaspoon Siracha
- In a bowl mix 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1½ teaspoons sesame seed oil, ½ teaspoon Siracha
- Thinly slice 1½ cups cabbage and the red onion, add to bowl
- Grate the carrot and add to the bowl
- Coarsely chop the cilantro add to the bowl
- Slice the green portion of the green onions and add to the bowl
- Mix slaw and put in fridge
- Chop the white portions of the scallions and put in a bowl
- Finely mince the garlic cloves add to the bowl
- Grate the ginger into the bowl
- Add the pork and soy sauce, mix well
- Shape four even balls of the meat mix, press into patties
- Cook the patties until cooked through, toast the buns of desired
- Place a patty on the bottom portion of each bun, top with slaw, the top of the bun, and serve
Pro Tip; if you purchased the pork already ground then be certain that you get the internal temperature to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for health and safety