Happy Memorial Day Weekend! With summer just around the corner, is there anything better than a hot, juicy burger right off the grill? While beef burgers are the classic standard…& boy, they’re good…I have been inspired lately to think out of the box & try something different for this weekend. I was just in that mood not to make a beef burger for this weekend menu…I wanted a change, & it wasn’t going to be turkey. What about chicken? I had created a chicken burger last year…did you try my Cobb Salad Burger…a chicken burger topped with tomato, avocado, cucumbers, bacon & a fried egg…& special sauce? It’s good…really good…& super-messy. I had no desire to do a vegetarian or seafood burger…neither appealed to me…I wanted meat.
Then it dawned on me…how about ground pork? Hmmm. I had never had a pork burger. That was certainly out of the box. The pork was going to need additional seasonings, but I didn’t want the burger to taste like a breakfast sandwich. It was time to get a little creative. I stood in my pantry for inspiration. There had to be something on one of the shelves that would work with the pork. I then spied the Williams-Sonoma Sriracha Kaffir Lime Rub. Have you tried it? OMG…if you like Vietnamese cuisine, then you are in for a real treat! The combination of the heat, the citrus of the lime & the depth of the chiles in this rub are wonderful…I’ve put it on swordfish, chicken thighs & breasts, but I hadn’t added the rub to anything…yet.
In addition to the rub, I added cilantro, carrots & garlic scapes (I still had a few from Cornerstone Garlic Farm left in the fridge), lemongrass, ginger & garlic paste…& fish sauce. Fish sauce is something I kept in my pantry for Thai & Vietnamese dishes,,,it’s a pantry must. I will admit that it doesn’t smell very good, but it does add a dimension to Southeastern Asian dishes that nothing else does. Then I read an article in Tasting Table, & I realized that, for all these years, I had underestimated & never really understood the importance of fish sauce or nước mắm nhi, as it’s known in Vietnam. Tasting Table had recommended Red Boat Extra Virgin Fish Sauce, made exclusively from wild-caught black anchovies, found off the Phu Quoc island archipelago. The anchovies are slowly fermented with sea salt in tropical wooden barrels, then “first-pressed” to create a deliciously exotic, fragrant “extra virgin” elixir that puts any other fish sauce to shame. Needless to say, I went to our Asian market & bought a bottle…
…& this alone made all the difference in the Vietnamese Pork Burgers! Since there’s enough fat in ground pork (15%), you will end up with a juicy burger that tastes better than any bánh mì, & I confirmed that with my dear Chip, for whom I made the burgers in the first place. Chip is a huge aficionado of the classic Vietnamese street food, & he has shared the lion’s share of bánh mì over the years with me, but this time, all he could say was “Wow’. That was enough for this food blogger!
I topped the burger with a thick slice of beefsteak tomato & a hearty helping of Asian Lime Papaya Chili Slaw, a creamy version of Vietnamese Papaya Salad. I wanted the burger to have a little crunch. As you probably know by know, I love to mix various textures in a dish. I used green papaya, shredded cabbage, carrots & cilantro & mixed in a hearty spoonful of Creamy Skinny Southeastern Asian Dressing…fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger & a touch of garlic chili paste, available at Amazon, if you do not have access to an Asian market. I kept the slaw “skinny” by using fat-free mayo, one of my pantry essentials. The creamy, spicy dressing, combined with the hot, fragrant burger & the juicy tomato were sublime. I also had my two favorite taste-testers…John & Frank…try one, and they devoured the burger in just a few bites.
I served the Vietnamese Pork Burgers with Kettle Brand Sriracha Potato Chips (yes, such a chip exists & it’s amazing!) & Asian Greens & Radish Stirfry. I paired the burgers with this stirfry when I tasted Asian collards recently at our local farmers’ market. Cornerstone Garlic Farm is one of my favorite vendors…in addition to growing amazing garlic…& scapes…they also grow a huge variety of greens, radishes & heirloom tomatoes…they even make & sell dog biscuits! Anyhoo, when I tasted the greens, I had to buy some…the greens were amazing raw, so I could only imagine how they would taste braised with a little sesame oil & garlic. Adding sliced radishes created a crunchy, peppery contrast to the mellow, tender greens. Radishes are great in a stirfry because they retain their crunch…the best part is…this “skinny” dish takes less than 15 minutes to prepare!
Since Entertaining is Easy is about sharing complete menus, I wanted an appetizer that’s on the lighter side…after all, it is bikini season since this is the first weekend of Summer! What about lettuce wraps? Lettuce wraps are great to serve, especially in the Summer…soft, buttery lettuce surrounding something completely delicious. If you’ve never served lettuce wraps, this is the weekend to do it! Your friends & family will be so impressed! Asian Shrimp Lettuce Wraps make a colorful, gluten-free presentation & it looks like you’ve away in the kitchen…but you haven’t. The lettuce wraps are mildly spicy, & is appealing to all sorts of palates…Émilie, who isn’t much of a spice girl, asked if we could have the wraps for dinner one night…that question made this mama happy!
Now onto dessert…have you ever had Vietnamese Coffee? This deliciousness is comprised of espresso coffee dripped into sweetened condensed milk & served over ice…there is only one word to describe this…yummalicious. There is only one dessert better than Vietnamese coffee…Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream Sodas! All you do is make the Vietnamese Coffee ahead of time, add club soda & a couple scoops of espresso chip or coffee chip ice cream, & woohoo, you will have an instant hit on your hands! I promise!
So, what would you serve in terms of wine? When it comes to Southeastern Asian flavors, I am a French Gewürztraminer girl…but, with this menu, I decided to do a little research & found a great article from The Riviera Grapevine that discussed the pairing of French Rosés with Asian cuisine. I was in heaven…my favorite Summer wine works with this menu? Can life get any better? What I loved most about the article is that the authors broke down the various regions in Asia & made recommendations based on the regional cuisine & the spices used in that cooking. In this Vietnamese Burger Menu, you will experience not only a contrast in flavors, but also freshness & balance in the various dishes, & a dry rosé or rosé champagne works perfectly…The French Riviera was absolutely correct!
I must say that this is going to be one of my favorite menus this summer! With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, this is a fun menu to prepare…all your prep can be done well ahead of time…it only takes 45 minutes to put everything together, & dinner or a late lunch is served! If you do not have a set of ice cream soda, or soda fountain, glasses, Williams-Sonoma has the glasses in stock online. Have a great weekend & Happy Summer! Cheers!
A Vietnamese Burger Menu
Dry Rosé or Rosé Champagne