Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Southeast Asian Pork Burgers

Trust me on this one. There isn't a picture because we were starving and ate everything really quickly. It was yummy.

I've been having a hard time writing this post though, because I am trying to find a way to describe this dish without it sounding too fussy for a weeknight. You're jut going to have to trust me: this is not too fussy for a weeknight.

The gist: You make little pork meatballs of mini-burgers and then serve them with jasmine rice, lettuce leaves, herbs (cilantro, mint, scallions) and a dipping sauce made of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and garlic. If you start the rice first, it will be done by the time everything else is ready.

Southeast Asian Pork Burgers
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like things hot hot HOT)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (if you don't have white pepper, use half the amount of ground black pepper)

Mix all the ingredients together evenly. Form the the ground pork mixture into small patties or meatballs (small patties are less fussy to form than meatballs, but will require a little more time cook - it's your call).

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 10" skillet (cast iron is great). Fry the patties until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side).

Dipping Sauce (ersatz nuoc cham)

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (brown sugar is nice)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes, or chopped fresh hot chili (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (to taste)

Mix all the ingredients but the water together. Add water to taste: the sauce should be salty, sour and a little sweet, but not overpowering. So dilute with water to taste.

Southeast Asian Pork Burger Plate

  • Cooked pork patties, as above
  • Lettuce leaves, Boston lettuce is most traditional, but any leaf lettuce is fine
  • Handful of cilantro spring
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice
  • Dipping sauce, as above

The prettiest way to serve this is to fill a platter with all the vegetables and herbs. Plate that on the table with the pork and rice in their own plate and bowl. Give everyone a small dish of dipping sauce.

To eat: take a lettuce leaf and tear it into a 3"x5"-ish piece. Put a little rice in the leaf, put in some pork and then add on herbs to taste. Roll up the leaf to make a little bundle, dip it in the nuoc cham and eat. Or, if you're tired, hungry and lazy, use a fork to eat a little bit of everything.

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