After my love affair with the banh mi blossomed in San Francisco recently. I immediately began planning this burger. In fact it is where the whole idea of a week of burgers began. It was an excuse to make this burger. Hey! If Spud can do it with potatoes, then this is not such a far reach for Sup!
I used pork, which was an easy choice for me. I love pig in all forms. I also added several of the classic ingredients you find in banh mi. But that is where the similarities end.
While, I could have placed this burger onto a crunchy baguette, and called it a banh mi pork burger (and I thought about that). I decided to follow another Vietnamese food tradition and wrap this burger in a big lettuce leaf.
I also tucked in a salad-like mix of traditional banh mi toppings like: carrots, daikon, and cilantro. These were simply dressed with limejuice, fish-sauce, and coriander. I also used super hot Thai bird peppers (prik chi fa) instead of jalapeno because I had them handy.
Lettuce-Wrapped Vietnamese Pork Burger Makes 6
1 small onion roughly chopped
2 six-inch piece (tender bottom section only) lemongrass, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/4 lb ground pork
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-teaspoon black pepper
1-teaspoon ground coriander
2 or 3 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced cross wise (optional)
1 small shallot, minced
Juice of 3 limes
2 heads of Bibb or green leaf lettuce, 6 good sized, well-shaped leaves left whole; the rest roughly shredded- slaw style
3/4 cup cilantro, leaves only
1/2-cup carrots cut into â€œmatchsticksâ€
1/2-cup daikon radish cut into â€œmatchsticksâ€
Cucumber spears, peeled
Prepare the burgers:
Add the onion, lemongrass, and ginger, to the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped and paste like. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium sized bowl; add the pork, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper, coriander and about 1/2 of the chili peppers (optional). Mix them all together using your hands to assure that it is evenly mixed. Do not over mix.
Shape the meat into 6 equal sized patties 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate the patties at least one hour and up to 24 hours, so they are well chilled, and the flavors all meld together.
Pre-heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Grill the patties about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (if using a charcoal grill, you will know the coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for just 3 or 4 seconds).
Prepare the toppings:
Stir the shallot, remaining 1/4-cup fish sauce, limejuice, the remaining chilies (optional) in small bowl and set aside.
Toss the shredded lettuce, cilantro, mint, carrot and daikon matchsticks, â€œsaladâ€œ style, in a medium bowl. Add the dressing and mix well.
To serve, place each burger onto a whole lettuce leaf. Top with the â€œsaladâ€ of lettuce, cilantro, carrots and daikon. Wrap the leaf around the burger to hold the toppings in place. Serve with the cucumber spears. Now this can be a messy burger, you could eat it with a fork and knife. But that’s no fun.
To be fair, this is just my interpretation of a Vietnamese burger. There may already be a fabulous “authentic” version (it seems all cultures have something that could be called a “burger”).
If you know of something…please pass the info on to me!
SERIOUS FUN FOOD