Sink Your Teeth Into Chicken Banh Mi Burgers

The chicken burger goes Vietnamese.
The chicken burger goes Vietnamese.

Take all the fresh and lively flavors of your favorite Vietnamese banh mi sandwich and transform it into a burger instead.

That’s just what “Chicken Banh Mi Burgers” is all about.

Easy enough to whip on a weeknight, this delectable recipe is from “Delicious Gatherings” (Shadow Mountain), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Tara Bench, the founder of the perfectly named blog, TaraTeaspoon, as well as the former food editor at Martha Stewart Living and former food director at Ladies’ Home Journal.

With that kind of background, she definitely knows what home-cooks want — fuss-free recipes for everyday eating or holiday entertaining that deliver. This book delivers just that, with more than 120 recipes, most of which span only one page.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, “Spicy Maple Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pepitas” and “Miso Honey Brussels Sprouts” are sure to please. With the weather cooling, you’ll want to whip up “Thai Coconut Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup” and “Giant Dinner Meatballs.” And “Coconut Cream Sweet Rolls” and “Sunken Chocolate Cakes with Hot Fudge Sauce” will satisfy any day of the week.

These banh mi burgers can be cooked on a grill or in a saute pan atop the stove.

Whether it’s supply chain issues or something else, I’ve found that most of the ground chicken found in supermarkets these days is of the extruded type (that looks like strands that came out of a Play-Doh pumper) rather than actually ground in a grinder or by hand (that looks more like minced meat). Alas, it’s also pre-packaged rather than found in bulk in the butcher case.

If you can find the actual ground type, get it. The problem with the pre-packaged extruded type is that it tends to contain and give off a lot of liquid. In fact, lift up one of those packages and you’ll often find a pool of liquid inside.

If that’s the only type of ground chicken you can find, try to blot it as dry as you can with paper towels before using. That’s because the wetter it is, the more your chicken burger is apt to fall apart when cooking. I found that out the hard way on my first attempt at this recipe with cooking the burgers on the grill. They ended up partially falling through the grates. Since I could only find extruded chicken at the market, I opted to saute the burgers the next time in a pan instead. That worked much better, so I’d strongly recommend that method if all you can get is extruded chicken.

The ground chicken gets seasoned with garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and minced jalapenos before being formed into patties.

Toppings for the burger (clockwise from top left): sliced jalapenos, sriracho mayo, and quick-pickled veggies.
Toppings for the burger (clockwise from top left): sliced jalapenos, sriracho mayo, and quick-pickled veggies.

The crunchy pickled veggies usually stuffed into a banh mi, get a streamlined method here with julienned carrots and daikon, plus thinly sliced cucumbers simply tossed with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and a pinch of sugar.

To finish off the burger, there’s a quick sauce of just mayo stirred with sriracha plus a little leftover dressing from the pickled veggies.

Place a cooked chicken patty atop a toasted bun, slather with the spiced-up mayo, then pile on the pickled veggies along with chopped peanuts, jalapeno slices, and fresh sprigs of mint or cilantro.

Take a bite to enjoy a range of textures with a lot of crunch from the peanuts and slaw. There’s a brightness from the fresh herbs, and a little hit of heat from the sriracha.

Swap out the ground chicken next time for ground pork instead for an even more flavorsome burger. You won’t have the issue with it falling apart, either, since the higher amount of fat in the pork will keep everything more compacted.

A chicken burger that's so vibrant tasting.
A chicken burger that’s so vibrant tasting.

Chicken Banh Mi Burgers

(Serves 4 to 6)

For the sesame chicken burgers:

1 pound ground chicken

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Canola or avocado oil for grilling

For the toppings:

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

3/4 cup shredded or julienned carrots

3/4 cup julienned daikon radish

2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced

4 or 6 sandwich rolls

1/3 cup chopped peanuts

1/3 cup chopped cilantro or mint

Lime wedges

1 small jalapeno, sliced (optional)

For the burgers: Line a baking sheet with parchment or prepare squares of parchment for layering. Set aside.

With gloved hands or a wooden spoon, thoroughly mix all burger ingredients except canola oil. Form mixture into 4 or 6 patties. Place patties on prepared baking sheet or layered between squares of parchment. Chill until ready to grill.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Alternately, you can panfry the burgers in a nonstick skillet or on a grill pan for about 4 minutes per side.

While the grill heats, prepare the toppings: Whisk together rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. In another bowl combine mayonnaise and sriracha. Stir 1 tablespoon vinegar mixture into sriracha mayo. Set aside. Just before serving, toss remaining vinegar mixture on vegetables (carrots, radish, cucumber).

Brush one side of each burger with canola oil and place that side on the hot grill. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Brush tops with canola oil and gently flip burgers. Cover and cook until done all the way through, about 3 minutes more.

Spread some sriracha mayo on each sandwich roll. Add a chicken burger, vegetables, and a sprinkling of peanuts and cilantro. Serve with limes for squeezing and jalapenos for extra heat, if desired.

Note: You can turn these into small sliders patties for a party and even meatballs that get cooked in the oven. Try serving meatballs and all the toppings as a rice bowl or in a soft flatbread wrap.

From “Delicious Gatherings” by Tara Bench

More Banh Mi Deliciousness: Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi Fried Rice

And: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken Banh Mi

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