If you love Thai food (we mean really love Thai food), familiarize yourself with the cuisine of Hong Thaimee, chef at NYC hot spot Ngam and author of new release True Thai: Real Flavors for Every Table. The modern interpretations of her native cuisine have proven to be a hit with everyone from pad thai purists to the the most adventurous eaters out there. For example: Thailand doesn’t really have an official burger preparation, per se (until now, that is).
This burger was inspired by a traditional sausage dish from Chiang Mai. Topped with homemade cilantro-lime mayonnaise and pickled green papaya, it’s a fresh Thai take on the American classic. I used to make it for friends when I first moved to Brooklyn, and it has since become one of the most popular menu items at Ngam.
- 5 dried long red Thai chilies, seeded
- 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 10 kaffir leaves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 cups sliced lemongrass
- 1/4 cup garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped shallot
- 2 teaspoons peeled and chopped fresh turmeric
- 3 pounds ground beef
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
- 6 Hamburger buns
- 6 slices tomato
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoo salt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- Grated zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pickled green papaya slaw
- 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup palm sugar
- 1 1/2 cups shredded green papaya
For the burgers
Place the dried chilies in a small bowl and add warm water to cover. Leave to soften for about 15 minutes. Wearing kitchen gloves (do not use bare hands when working with chilies), remove the chilies from the water and squeeze out excess water.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the hydrated chilies, black soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and turmeric. Pulse until it forms a paste, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add the beef, and knead gently together just until well incorporated, but be careful not to overwork the meat. Divide the mixture into 6 balls and flatten into patties with the heel of your hand. Place on a plate, cover with plastic, and refrigerate the patties for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to fully absorb the seasoning.
Remove the patties from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature to ensure even cooking. Preheat a grill or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and lightly coat the cooking surface with oil. Grill or sear the burgers to your desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Partly covering the grill or skillet will help the meat stay moist.
While the burgers rest, toast the buns on the hot grill until golden, about 1 minute.
Place the burgers on the toasted bottom bun and top with the mayonnaise, sliced tomato and pickled papaya.
For the cilantro-lime mayonnaise
Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat the eggs on the highest setting until they turn a light yellow color, about 2 minutes.
While the mixer is running, slowly add the oil, about ½ teaspoon at a time. Be careful not add too much oil too quickly or the oil and egg will separate. Once the mayonnaise looks fluffy and glossy, remove from the mixer and fold in the remaining ingredients.
Note: You can also use 1 cup jarred mayonnaise
in place of the egg yolks and oil and simply stir in the remaining ingredients.
For the papaya slaw
Prepare an ice water bath.
In a medium saucepan, combine the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, and sugar. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer to a medium bowl and set in the ice water bath to cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded papaya and stir to combine. Set aside to pickle for about 1 hour.