Thursday, June 27, 2013

Asian pork burgers with quick pickled cucumbers

There's been a lot of talk about veg around here lately, so I thought I probably owed you a nice, meaty post.

So of course I shall focus on pork (not quite bacon, but damned close).

I've been trying out some pork burger recipes over the past few months, looking for some alternatives to straight-up beef burgers -- although there is nothing wrong with a nice, locally raised grass-fed beef burger, my friends, nothing at all.

I came across a recipe for "triple pork burgers" in a recent issue of Food and Wine. Triple pork? You know The Ninj's interest was piqued. And it also included cabbage. Yep, cabbage -- in the burger. Very stealthy indeed.

But, as is often the case, I felt the recipe was way too involved and included some spice that would require a special trip to an ethnic grocery store in another town.

Not happening.

Not to mention that "triple pork" was misleading: that simply meant three burgers per bun. Come on: sometimes more pork is simply too much pork. (Can you believe I just wrote that?) 

So, being all stealthy like I am, I gave the recipe a ninja-style modification to make it more realistic, less unhealthy and faster to prepare.

However, the one thing I was sure not to eliminate or modify too much was the quick pickled cucumber topping. And you'll be glad I did -- it gives the burgers just the right spicy, tangy crunch to make them extra awesome (the red pepper gives it pretty good kick, too).

Really, I think you'll be pleased. This is a delicious alternative to the staid beef burger.

But perhaps, for you, the upcoming Independence Day holiday (in the U.S., that is) is too sacred to introduce a pork burger to the grill. If so, there's always July 5th. Because you know that you're bound to have at least one full bag of leftover buns (how the heck does that always happen?).

Would you include these pork burgers at your next cookout? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Asian Pork Burgers with Quick Pickled Cucumber (adapted from a recipe by Bill Kim in Food and Wine)

-- For the burgers --
1 pound ground pork
1/3 cup chopped Napa cabbage
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or regular chili sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 1/4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

-- For the pickled cucumbers --
1 pound pickling cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

-- For the pickled cucumbers --
Toss the cucumber with the salt in a colander and let drain for about 20-30 minutes. Add them to a bowl along with all the other pickle ingredients, stir to combine and let the mixture stand at room temperature for about 2 hours (stir every once in a while).

-- For the burgers --
Combine all the listed burger ingredients in a bowl and mix well, using your hands to really get the ingredients evenly distributed. Shape the mixture into four patties and grill for several minutes per side or until they reach your preferred degree of doneness (they'll cook for a similar length of time as a traditional beef patty). Serve, topped with mayonnaise and the quick pickled cucumbers, on toasted buns.


  1. Having just eaten too much pork at at BBQ festival, I am here to tell you that yes, one can eat too much pork. Laws yes.

    These however, looks super yummy! I may need to give these a shot!

    1. HA! I saw all your pix from that festival and was wondering how the heck you ate it all in one day. Being a pork fan, you will totally dig these.

  2. Sounds yummy! Especially the cucumbers!

  3. Made these last night in spite of my husband's early childhood trauma of "pork" burgers. I told him these would be NOTHING like those. He's a reserved guy, so my friend and I anxiously awaited his reaction. First bite: Good. Second bite: These cucumbers are delicious. Third bite: Yes, very good. Winner!

    1. Fantastic! I'm glad you helped him overcome his fear of pork burgers. :-) Thanks for the feedback.