Lettuce-Wrapped Vietnamese Pork Burgers

Lettuce Wrapped Vietnamese Pork BurgerThe flavors of Viet Nam speak out loud and strong in this next burger. They were indeed the jumping off point for me in building this Asian influenced burger. You knew I had to do one, right?

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!

Lettuce-Wrapped Vietnamese Pork Burgers

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.

thai bird chiliesLettuce-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 salt
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
asian pork burger preppork burger prep work3/4 cup cilantro, leaves only
1/2‑cup carrots cut into matchsticks
1/2‑cup daikon radish cut into matchsticks
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 pork burger pattyspicy thai salad dressingthe 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.
toppings for Vietnamese pork burgers
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, lime juice, the remaining chilies (optional) in small bowl and set aside.

Toss the shredded lettuce, cilantro, mint, carrot and daikon matchsticks, salad-style, in a medium bowl. Add the dressing and mix well.

To serve, place each burger onto a whole lettuce leaf. Top with the salad 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.Vietnamese flavored pork burgers

To be fair, this is just my interpretation of Vietnamese pork burgers. 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!


Greg Henry