Monday, July 29, 2013

Thai pork burgers with Sriracha aioli

The grilling itch won't go away, even after 11 straight weekends of it.  I'm certain this is some kind of (delicious) record for me.  I've had ribs, chicken, fish, hot dogs, and, of course, burgers.

You'd think we'd be growing tired of all of the summertime fare, but you'd be wrong.  I've been feeling extra creative and daydreaming of new spins to put on classics like burgers.  And this inspiration came from the most unusual place -- a seafood dish.

A few weeks ago, Matt and I had a date night, and he was in charge of picking a new restaurant to surprise me.  The man chose Andora and, boy, did he hit a home run with this place.

The setting was a majestic old home nestled in the woods.  We both agreed it reminded us of the Clue mansion.  The service was efficient and warm, and the food was tremendous.  I loved my horseradish crusted cod, and Matt totally devoured his pasta with shrimp, scallops, and spicy Italian sausage.  Oh, and the bread?  Crusty and warm from the oven with a red pepper oil for dipping.  Perfection, yo.

While we loved it all from start to finish, it was the starter that really stuck with us.  "It happened in the library!  With the shrimp!"

Yes, we literally dined in the library, with stunning floor-to-ceiling mahogany bookshelves and a grand fireplace.  Just.Like.Clue.  It was amazing.

But this appetizer.  Shrimp spring rolls with Sriracha aioli.  We expected to like it but ended up falling head over heels for it.  The rolls were surprisingly light and ultra crispy, just how we like 'em, and that aioli was the stuff of my dreams!  Creamy and perfectly spicy.

I've been thinking about it ever since and how I could incorporate it into a dish of my own.  Since the aioli packed such a flavor punch, I shifted my thinking to more mild meats -- something that could benefit from the spicy boost.  Pork seemed like the perfect canvas, and pork burgers were so unique to me that I had to give 'em a whirl.

Not just any pork burgers, but Thai pork burgers with Sriracha aioli and chopped peanuts!

Lean ground pork is mixed with finely shredded carrot, chopped green onions, and freshly grated ginger for added moisture and bright colors and flavors.  I took a little help from some of my favorite pantry staples like soy sauce and sesame oil for an extra exotic twist and then topped 'em with some of that copycat aioli and salty chopped peanuts for a satisfying crunch.

Sweet, salty, juicy, crunchy, and spicy!  This burger hit every single item on my burger checklist.  Well, updated checklist because you and I both know spicy is new to the party.

Who knew my favorite burger of the summer would come with a passport?!  So tasty and so many levels of flavor!  And it took no more effort to make than a regular run-of-the-mill beef burger.  Winning!

Though I can't argue that a burger is better than a vacation, this one will definitely be a delicious new experience you're sure to remember for a very long time!

Two years ago: Lamb burgers

Thai Pork Burgers with Sriracha Aioli
-makes 4 burgers

A few notes: The great thing about the aioli is that it can be as mild or as hot as you like.  Take my advice and add a little hot sauce at a time.  It's always easier to add more than subtract some.  But, if it's too hot, add a little more mayo to cool things off. 

1 pound lean ground pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup finely grated carrot
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce, plus more depending on preference
4 burger buns
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.  In a small bowl, stir hot sauce and mayonnaise until well mixed; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine pork, garlic, carrot, onions, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring until combined.  Divide mixture into four equal portions and shape into round patties.  Coat grill with nonstick spray.  Cook burgers about 4-5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove burgers to buns, top patties with Sriracha aioli, sprinkle with peanuts, and top with bun.  Enjoy and devour!

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