You know that game where you have to (hypothetically) choose only one food to eat for the rest of your life? Well, for me, it would probably be a burger. I absolutely love them—and I love the fact that they are so versatile. Sure, I love a good beef burger any day, but I’ve had some amazing ones made out of turkey, chicken, bison … heck, even lamb or pork.
Given my penchant for burgers, I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite burger recipes on a regular basis. A “Burger of the Month” feature, if you will. The burgers I’ll share will be my tried and true favorites—staples in our house. And this month, we’re starting with a new favorite that’s been in rotation on the weekly menu as of late: a Bahn Mi Burger.
If you’ve never had a Bahn Mi, it’s a Vietnamese-style sandwich typically served on a baguette. The meat can range from various types of pork—like meatballs, grilled pork or pork cold cuts—to chicken to tofu. The toppings are, in my opinion, what lend the sandwich its unique flavor. They usually include pickled vegetables like carrots or daikon (radishes), thinly sliced chilies, cucumber, cilantro and mayo. It’s a salty-meets-spicy-meets-sweet-and-sour kind of flavor. It’s delicious.
Before I moved to Chicago years ago, I had never even heard of a Bahn Mi, let alone tried one. But the great thing about living in that city is access to a seriously diverse and amazing mix of foods. On a whim one day, when the hubz (then boyfriend) was traveling for work I tried out a little Vietnamese café in our neighborhood and had my first Bahn Mi. I was a little overwhelmed by the choices. Do I get meatballs or chicken or BBQ pork? I went with the “safe” choice and tried chicken, ultimately. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t like it, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Bahn Mi, so when I came across a recipe on Pinterest for a Bahn Mi chicken burger, I knew I had to try it. I always give credit where credit is due, so this recipe comes from CHOW.com. I didn’t make any modifications, other than to use a regular hamburger bun instead of the baguette it called for (because burger buns are plentiful in my house; baguettes, not so much).
These burgers are so flavorful and juicy. I’ve made them with ground chicken breast, as well as a mix of breast and dark meat, and both have turned out wonderfully. I think you’re going to love this recipe!
Just to note, there is a little advanced prep work to make your pickled carrots … so be sure to leave enough time!
Bahn Mi Chicken Burgers
Recipe courtesy of CHOW.com
Makes 4 burgers
For the pickled carrots:
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup peeled and coarsely shredded carrots (from about 2 medium carrots)
For the chili mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sambal oelek (chili paste)
For the burgers:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 medium scallions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon packed finely grated lime zest (from 1 medium lime)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds ground chicken
For the toppings:
Thinly sliced white onions
Thinly sliced jalapenos (optional)
First things first, you need to pickle your carrots. I didn’t snap any pictures of this step, as I was using leftover carrots from the week before (I told you we’ve been eating this a lot lately!).
Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small, nonreactive (i.e. stainless steel or glass – nonstick should be fine) saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the carrots and stir to coat them in the pickling mixture. Let stand at room temperature until the carrots have softened, at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain well and refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.
Next, mix up your chili mayonnaise. You can find sambal oelek in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores. I always buy the Huey Fong brand, personally. Combine the mayonnaise and sambal oelek in a little bowl. You can add as much or as little sambal oelek as you can handle; we personally like it a little spicier than the recipe calls for. Let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to dress the burgers.
Now it’s time to make the burgers.
Combine all of the burger ingredients except the chicken and oil in a large bowl, and give it a stir. A heads up: Fish sauce doesn’t smell terribly appetizing. But don’t let it turn you off because it tastes amazing, I promise!
Add the ground chicken and mix with your hands until just evenly combined. Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into patties. Ground chicken can be really sticky, so if needed, you can wet your hands with water to handle the patties. Transfer the patties to a plate and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook. I’m a weirdo when it comes to raw meat, so I always end up lining my plates with wax paper first. Thus, the photo below.
I chose to cook my burgers in a cast iron pan, mostly because they contain quite a bit of liquid (which makes for a juicy burger) and I was worried they might fall apart on the grill. Heat your pan over medium-high heat with a bit of canola oil – or any other oil with a high smoke point, like peanut or sunflower.
Once your pan is nice and hot, transfer the chicken patties into the pan and let them cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Flip, then cook another 5 minutes or until the patties are cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. I found that when using breast meat only, they cooked a bit faster than when I used a mix of dark and white meat. So you may need to add another minute or two per side if you’re using the mix of dark and white.
Finally, assemble your burgers. Spread a generous amount of chili mayonnaise on each side of the bun. Place your burger patty on the bun, then top it with thinly sliced white onion (which is not a typical dressing for a Bahn Mi, but I really like it on these burgers), pickled carrots, a generous bunch of cilantro (I load it on) and – if you like extra heat – some thinly sliced jalapenos. You could even add cucumber slices, but since the hubz isn’t a cuke fan, I usually don’t.
These burgers are actually pretty healthy and certainly won’t blow your calorie allotment for the day. A guilt-free, delicious burger always makes me very happy!
If you make these burgers, let me know how you like them in the comments below. I’ll share another favorite burger recipe next month, so stay tuned!