Mini Beef Burgers & Asian Slaw
Ha! Bet you thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth didn’t you? The truth of the matter is that writing has been difficult for me these past few days. My brains were as fried as an eggplant fritter, and I didn’t have anything exciting to report. I am always envious of people who can produce wonderful ideas, strung together in sentences in such short periods. They have the type of minds that are calm and inspired that I constantly pray for everyday. Mine is like a fierce battlefield, filled with shooting arrows of exotic voices, constantly attacking me with unusual thoughts. Each day I wake up, I am forced to face an inner voice, which seldom fails to tell me what to write. This voice carefully weaves exciting ideas. But when I sit to place these thoughts on a piece of paper, my mind goes blank. All of a sudden, it spins dizzily round and round, and my whole world splinters and falls. How could this voice tease me with a concept in bright daylight and turn it to torture by moonrise? I can’t produce a word.
All of that changed when I made these mini burgers a few days ago. These aren’t just any burgers. They are world class fancy shmancy patties of beef, luxuriously flavored with garlic and ginger, and they’re matchless. One bite turned into several. And I can shamelessly tell you that one pound of beef along with their trimmings nested craftily in my belly. While the flavors are totally up to you, I chose to Malaysianize my burgers and made a side of spicy aioli, which is sambal belachan mixed in mayonnaise. The ground beef was divided into five 3 oz. patties, and cooked in an iron skillet, basted with butter. The results: juicy, tender and comforting.
When making your own burgers at home, it is best to select meat that has a sufficient amount of fat. I choose chuck, short ribs, and sirloin beef which yielded a ratio of 30% fat to 70% meat. This amount of fat is necessary for a delicious and moist burger. I realize that grinding your own meat is not an option for most home cooks, therefore ask your local butcher do it for you. It’s worth the time and effort. Lastly, chill your ground meat in the refrigerator before you shape it. The patties need to maintain the same chill just before they touch the searing hot pan. This step will help keep the burgers in shape, ensure a gorgeous char on the outside and a juicy interior. Serve them with a side of refreshing Asian slaw, and you’ll have opened the gates of heaven.
Mini Beef Burgers & Asian Slaw
Makes five 3 oz. patties
1 lb. ground chuck, short ribs and sirloin
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 piece of ginger (2 inches), grated
Salt to taste
Mix all four ingredients and chill. For a taste test, pinch a bit of meat. Bring a skillet to heat and sear the meat. If you are satisfied, proceed. Otherwise season with your choice of ingredient to your desired taste, and retest. Do not over mix the meat or it will turn firm when cooking. Divide the meat into 5 portions and shape them into disks. Chill.
For the spicy aioli
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of sambal belachan
Mix the two ingredients together and set aside.
5 whole wheat dinner rolls, buttered and toasted
1) Bring a cast iron skillet to heat. Allow the skillet to be searing hot or until you see smoke rising.
2) Place the patties in the skillet and 1 tablespoon of butter.
3) Cook each side for 3 minutes for a medium rare burger.
4) Brush enough aioli onto the toasted breads. Place the lettuce and onions on one side of the bun and the burger on the other.
Asian Cole Slaw
1 cup of Napa cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shaved
1/2 a red onion sliced
1 cucumber (green parts only), Julienne
For the dressing
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup of mirin
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. When you are ready for service, toss the salad with enough dressing. Do not drown the salad with dressing or you will lose the crunch. I prefer to dip a handful of veggies into the dressing and shake off the excess.