Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Challenge: Thai These Burgers on for Size

Craving spicy food on the way back from the airport the other day, Lindsay and I checked out Siamese Thai Cafe on Veterans. The larb, a salad made up of ground pork, red onion, thai basil, scallion, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce hit the table soon after we sat down and we furiously gobbled it up. The result, much greater than the sum of its parts, is a sour, pungent blend of flavors and textures.

My mind, as most fat kids do, immediately went to hamburgers. Originally I wanted to combine the non-pork ingredients with ground beef and make a burger infused with the flavors of Siam. Figuring that worcestershire sauce is merely a descendant from fish sauce, subbing the latter for the former would not be that big a deal. But Lindsay, who is still a little mad about the peanut butter and strawberry gelato fiasco of 2010, put her foot down. "Absolutely not. Sounds disgusting and I won't eat it. Why don't you just make a relishy thing and place it on top a burger," she suggested. The term suggested is very kind.

This won't be the first time I listen to her.


Make a burger. It should look like this on the grill. Note: Non-cheese larburgers are the way to go.

While your fire heats up, in a small bowl combine the juice of one lime, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of fish sauce, and a touch of sugar. Stir to combine. To this, add some thinly sliced shallot, scallion, chopped cilantro, and torn Thai basil. Let this sit awhile and visit.

Now, for a little added kick make a sriracha mayo. This is simple, take a tablespoon (or more or less) of sriracha and add it to two tablespoons of mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Look at you, fusion master, a real restaurant would charge you an extra $1 for that step.

Assembly is simple. Mayo on bottom bun, burger, spoon over the larb relish, and enjoy. Whole wheat buns make it healthy, but you made it delicious.

The larb relish takes this burger to a whole 'nother level. You get the spice from the mayo, then the juice and bite of the burger. Up next, the unmistakable muskiness of fish sauce which contrasts nicely with the rich beef flavor. Then the cut of the lime juice and the herbs.

I always find that my favorite dishes are those that make me say in my head one of three things: a) this would be good on a burger b) this would be great on pizza or c) this would be awesome on ice cream. The moment I tried the larb at Siamese Thai, I couldn't stop thinking how well the flavors and textures of larb would compliment burgers. Call me a simpleton, but great food really comes down to that.

Try this refreshingly new and interesting take on a backyard classic and let me know how it goes.


Max said...

I really like the larb at Siam, and this looks pretty interesting. I always get pork larb, do you think a pork burger would work pretty good?

Rene said...

Absolutely. Or maybe even try a fifty fifty blend of pork and lean beef. I normally always use 80/20 ground beef to make burgers. But if I mix in ground pork, dial back the fat on the beef, otherwise you will get loads of flare ups.

Let us know how it goes.