Sunday, April 7, 2013

Banh Mi - Style Chicken Burgers

Vietnam has been high on my list of must-visit countries for some time now. I can't wait for the chance to see the colonial architecture of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, rice
paddies, the Mekong Delta and - of course - the FOOD. 

The banh mi was inspired by Vietnam's history of French colonialism. It combines classic French ingredients (baguette, pate, mayonnaise) with classic Vietnamese ingredients (cilantro, pickled vegetables and hot peppers). The banh mi sandwiches that you will find in the US are delicious but far from light. I played around with a few recipes and came up with this lightened up version using ground chicken, fat free Greek yogurt and a whole wheat bun. I served it with an easy red cabbage slaw and some steamed veggies for a great weeknight meal.

What you'll need: 
1 lb ground chicken
2 Tbs sliced scallions
1  large handful of fresh cilantro
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
3 radishes (thinly sliced)
1/2 c shredded carrots
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 English cucumber (thinly sliced)
Pickled jalapenos (for garnish)
1 Tbs mayonnaise (heaping)
1/2 c fat free Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp sriracha (Asian hot sauce)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
olive oil 
2 Tbs chicken stock
3-4 whole wheat rolls (depends on the size burger you want)
black pepper

How to do it:

First, prep the pickled veggies that will be one of your burger toppings. This is one of my favorite parts of the burgers. I love putting cold crisp veggies on hot dishes. Combine the sliced radishes, shredded carrots, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Add 1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro and a pinch of salt. If you like spice you can also add about 1/2 tsp of the pickling liquid from the jar of jalapenos. Mix well and chill until your burgers are ready.

Next, combine your meat and spices. Put the ground chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, soy sauce, 2 cloves finely minced garlic and 2 Tbs chopped cilantro. Combine all of the ingredients without over mixing and then form into 3-4 patties. Ground chicken can be really sticky. I find that it helps to form the patties with damp hands.

Let the burgers sit out and warm up a bit before you cook them. Now is a good time to make your sriracha yogurt sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt and garlic powder in small bowl. Add the sriracha (or other hot sauce) to taste. I used 1 1/2 tsp. You may want to start with 1 tsp and then add more if you like. Add a generous pinch of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Mix well and pop into the fridge.

Now you are ready to cook the burgers. If you're like me you've been tasting the pickled veggies and that delicious sauce and now you're STARVING. Don't worry, these burgers cook quickly.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Your pan and oil should be hot when you hold your hand over but not so hot that its smoking. You should hear a nice, satisfying sizzle when you put the burgers into the pan. If you don't quickly fish it out and wait until your pan is hot enough.

Cook the burgers on 3 minutes per side. Then add about 2 Tbs of chicken stock to pan. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to somewhere between low and medium. Cook for another 3 minutes and then remove the cover to let the moisture evaporate for about 1 minute. Adding the chicken stock really helps keep turkey and chicken burgers moist. They can dry out easily since you have to be careful to cook them all the way through. I use this last minute to lightly toast the buns. 

So all of your components are ready and your kitchen smells awesome. Now it's time to artfully craft your burger. Slather the top and bottom of your bun with the sriracha sauce. Put a few slices of cucumber on the bottom and then top with the patty. Pile the pickled veggies on top along with a few jalapenos and a few tablespoons of fresh cilantro (whole leaves) - really pile it on there as a substitute for lettuce. 

This burger is as satisfying as your classic cheeseburger but it is full of new and exciting flavors. I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

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