Monday, June 21, 2010

Asian-Style Pork Burgers

Remember back in the day when I made Pork & Kimchi Dumplings?  Well, at the time, I had purchased a pound of ground pork, but only used half for that recipe, figuring that I wouldn't want 40 dumplings crowding my freezer.  Instead, I've had 1/2 lb of ground pork in said freezer chillin' for like 2 months (ooohhhh, pun intended!).

Fearing freezer-burn, I was brainstorming out to use up the rest of my ground pork.  My first thought went to Ma Po Tofu.  But I don't have any tofu or "Ma Po" sauce, whatever the heck that is, I mean, I usually just buy it pre-made at the Asian grocery store.  Hmmm.... but I think I'm on a roll with the Asian theme.  What else, what else?  What else I usually do with ground meats?  Uhm, spaghetti sauce, dumplings, Shepard's pie, burgers... Burgers! Yes!  I will make Ma Po Pork and Tofu burgers!  Wait... still the issue of no Ma Po or tofu..... so maybe I'll just make Asian-inspired Pork Burgers and use whatever I can find in my pantry.

Burger Stuff
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 C unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tbsps onion, chopped fine
2 tbsps carrots, peeled and shredded with a peeler or box grater
2 tbsps fresh ginger, grated (not ground)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sambal oelek (more if you like things hot)
1 egg

Getting Burger Into Mouth Stuff
2 good quality buns, brioche would be nice but damn expensive, kaiser works for the less spendy option
1/2 roasted sweet red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoons white sesame seeds
2 leaves lettuce (next time try napa cabbage slaw?), chopped
2 tbsps scallions, chopped ¼” thick

1) Mix the burger ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl and form into 2 patties about 3/4" thick, or at least the same size as your buns and slightly concave in the center (for even cooking, plus they puff up when cooked).
**The patties are very "loose" and fall apart easily.  I found that forming them in my hand and plopping them straight onto the press/grill worked best.
2) Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raw meat and egg mixture.  Eeewwww!
3) Heat up and oil Panini press (aka my grill), or any type of grill-like thing you feel like using.
4) Place (or plop, see above) the patties on the grill. Cook these babies for about 6-7min.
** Its slightly quicker and don’t need to flip if using a press.  If using a grill, cook 6-7min then gently flip the burgers and cook another 4-6min.
5) Open lid (of your press) at the 6-7min mark and dollop some of the hoisin sauce on the top of each burger and spread. Theoretically, you should cook until the internal temp is around 160F.  However, I rarely take temperatures unless its a roast.... so don't be surprised when I end up with some terrible food-bourne illness.  I just poke them to see if they are firm, aka done.
6) I like my buns toasted, but Boyfriend does not.  Thus, I only toasted one bun.  I recommend it.  It’s just better that way.
7) Assembly:  Bun, lettuce, roasted red pepper strips, burger (hoisin side up), sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallions.
8) Place top of bun next to fancy-schmancy burger. Admire your work.  Shout “Dinner’s Ready” with authority.

Drink: We drank a light 2007 Domaine des Salices Pinot Noir with this meal.  Not because I thought it would be the "best" pairing, I actually think a light ale, good lager, a dryish Riesling, or a pink wine would be better.  However, pink wine is a hard sell in my house.  Red wine is loved by all.  So I chose a light one so as not to overwhelm the flavors of my pork burger.
Served with: Roasted cauliflower and a cold soba noodle salad with cucumbers, carrots, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, rice vinegar, lime juice and zest, topped with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.
 The finished product was a fantastic mix of flavors.  Sweet from the hoisin and bell peppers, spicy from the sambal oelek, crunchy from the carrots and lettuce.  OM NOM NOM.  Not your usual burger, but a seriously welcomed departure.  I will definitely be making this again.  Boyfriend suggested next time to make them a little thicker for a bigger mouth-load of yummy burger-ness.  I agree.  It just happened that my buns were huge so I had to thin out my burgers to fit.

PS. Roasted cauliflower is the way to go always!  Sooooo much better than steaming it.  Roasting it really brings out better flavors and textures.  Highly recommended!

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