Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Banh Mi Burgers with Pickled Carrots & Daikon and Fresh Baguette Buns

In our never-ending quest for the world's most perfect burger, Kevin and I found ourselves drawn to the powers of darkness. We could see the vivid flames of its shirt. It was a story as old as time itself. Good versus evil. Man vs. Guy Fieri.

We wanted to honor the purest of the pure chefs- Cafe TH owner and banh mi artist, Minh Nguyen with a burger befitting his Vietnamese oasis, but in doing so, would we have to embrace the Prince of Frosted Tips?
The Devil went down to Houston. He was looking for a soul to steal...

Banh Mi Burgers
Adapted from DDD
Servings: 5 Burgers
Time: 60 minutes (not counting the buns)
My first ever hand formed patties

Full Assembly
Baguette buns (recipe below)
Pickled carrots (recipe below)
Pickled daikon (recipe below)
Jalapeno, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
Sriracha Aioli (recipe below)

1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
4-6 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
Sriracha, salt and pepper 
So damn fishy

3/4 cup fish sauce
12 oz wheaty beer
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp pureed ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Thai chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
Sriracha to taste
1 shallot, diced
3 sprigs Thai Basil, torn
3 Sprigs mint, torn

Sriracha Aioli
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Jalapeno Juice
Pureed Jalapeno
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Char-grilling is key
  1. Become ridiculously tired from working late.
  2. Start to think that Guy Fieri is making sense and become enamored with a recipe on Diner, Drive-ins and Dives (Triple D! ::fist pump::)
  3. Realize that Cafe TH does not serve dinner on Saturdays, so if you want a banh mi, you have to make it yourself. ::light bulb::
  4. Form the patties by mixing together the sausage, beef, shrimp (chopped well so that the patty stays in tact), sriracha, salt and pepper. 
  5. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the aioli ingredients together until smooth. You can vary the level of spicy by changing how much mayo/ hot stuff you put in. Also, in case you're wondering where jalapeno juice comes from, after you puree your jalapenos, you can strain out the juice (5 jalapenos is like 1 1/2 tsp).
  7. Get your grill hot. 
  8. Dip the patties in your marinade then grill one side. Bring the patties back to the marinade and repeat.
  9. Once the patties are cooked to the desired level, dip back in the marinade one final time and get a nice sear on the grill quickly.
  10. Assemble your burgers by putting the patties on your fresh baguette buns and topping with banh mi staples cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, pickled carrots and pickled daikon radish. Drizzle on the aioli and enjoy.
  11. Be forever thankful that you resisted the urge to buy bowling shirts and give your hair spiky blonde highlights.
The burger was actually everything we hoped for when we began this crazy, sleep deprived journey. The char-grill from searing the marinade made the patty, and the mix of pork, beef and shrimp provided an interesting burger. We were a little worried it would be overly fatty from the pork, so we went with lean 90-10 beef. It really needs a little fattier beef, however, so be sure to step up the unhealthiness. The crunch of the cucumber, jalapapeno, pickled carrot and daikon really hit the standard banh mi notes, and the sriracha aioli added a necessary creaminess. However, in hindsight, we should've created a rich sriracha butter instead, like Minh's French Butter banh mi spread. The main problem was that when you're craving a banh mi, you really should just eat one. No matter how hard we tried with our burgers, they'd never reach the heights of a Gluttonous Ellis, Heartthrob or Zombie from TH.

The first ever animated GIF on the site (click it if it stopped playing). Coming soon: Buzzfeed's Top 10 Hottest GIFs of Terry Eating Burgers.
Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radish
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen
Servings: Way more than you need for 5 burgers
Time: 90 minutes (inactive for 80 of that)

5 carrots, peeled and cut thinly
1 daikon radish, peeled and cut thinly
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 1/2 tbsp dill seeds
1 1/2 tbsp salt

Bam! You're about to get pickled (Not just the worst cooking line but also the worst pickup line)!
  1. Place the carrots and daikon in separate heatproof bowls
  2. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill seeds and salt to a bowl in a pot. Let simmer for 2 minutes
  3. Pour the liquid on top of the carrots and daikon THROUGH A STRAINER (to get rid of the dill seeds).
  4. Let sit for at least 90 minutes before using.
Pickley deliciousness
The pickled veggies are what set a banh mi apart from a normal sandwich. They added a crispness and acidity that the sandwich needed to go with the freshness of the cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro. Unlike my previous attempt at pickling (see Dr. Pepper Braised Brisket Tacos with Pickled Onions), these actually taste pretty solid on their own.

Baguette Buns
Adapted from Cooking Channel
Servings: 4-6 Buns
Time: 90 minutes (inactive for 60)

2 packets dry active yeast
2 tbsp honey
Warm Water
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp salt
Olive Oil
3-4 ice cubes

I shall call him doughy, and he shall be mine.
  1. Mix the honey, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water well. Let sit until the yeast activates and the mix foams (about 5 minutes)
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large stand mixer with a dough hook attached. Slowly add in the yeast while mixing.
  3. Slowly pour in up to an additional 1 cup warm water until the dough comes together in to a workable, non-sticky ball.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface until nicely elastic (3-6 minutes).
  5. Round the dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl (I also turn the dough over a few times in the bowl to oil it). Cover and let rise to double the size (25-30 minutes).
  6. Divide the dough into the sized buns you want. Score with diagonal cuts from a knife.
  7. Cover and let rise for another 25-30 minutes to double in size again.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450 F and set it up so the middle and bottom racks have shelves. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack.
  9. Once the buns have risen, put then in the oven. Also, add the ice cubes to the pan on the bottom rack (but make sure they don't touch any windows in your oven as that temperature shock could be quite bad). This will create steam to help with generating a crust on the outside.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Let cool on wire racks.

Step one to opening a boulangerie in Paris complete
The highlight of the night was far and away the fresh baguette buns. They weren't quite as crispy as I hoped (probably from me running my oven a little low to compensate for its craziness, but throwing them on the grill helped), but they were incredibly delicious (as all freshly baked super carbs are). Despite not appearing in the ingredients, these buns were surprisingly buttery. As easy as they were to make, I'll be sure to use these again for actual baguettes some day.

You can practically tell that it's going to displace your jaw.
While the burgers proved to be quite satisfactory (if not quite reaching the Mt. Olympus of Vietnamese Sandwiches), we did experience one of our grandest fails ever. Stay tuned for the price we paid for putting our trust in Guy Fieri- our ultimate shame of Daikon Radish Fries.

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