I don't know about you, but I love a good fusion burger. Remember my Greek Burgers? There are so many combinations of flavors that work well on a burger bun. Chili cheese! Mushroom and Swiss! Juicy Lucy's! These Vietnamese-inspired Pork Burgers are no exception.
Summer seems like prime burger season, but it's beginning to feel more and more like Fall. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures less wicked, and leaves are beginning to fall. I've been in a real frenzy because I want to pack in as many delicious burgers as I can before the season ends. Joe and I had also been talking about one of our favorite Vietnamese places in town, so I got an idea for a burger-banh mi fusion.
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The Modern Proper's Pork Burger
When the idea struck, I searched Google and found The Modern Proper had already beaten me to the punch. Y'all, I wasn't mad about it. They're brilliant. I followed their burger recipe nearly to a T, changing only how I pickled my carrots and using regular radishes over daikon.
This pork burger recipe features delicious banh mi flavors like crunchy pickled carrots, cilantro, spicy sriracha aioli, green onions and even a dash of fish sauce, packaged up in a shiny, soft brioche bun. I'd argue that this is easily a top 5 burger recipe, and definitely a top 3 pork burger recipe.
And even though I originally envisioned a french bread style roll in true banh mi fashion, I'm glad Natalie and Holly convinced me to try a brioche bun instead. Their recipes are usually spot on, so I went with their recommendation. It was the right choice, as the flavors were so on point for a banh mi, it needed a softer bun to really fit the burger category.
The Grocery Addict Salad
All I needed was an appropriately summery side salad. I turned to the heaviest dang watermelon I've ever purchased (shout out to the Nashville Farmer's Market!) as my inspiration. While my normal move with a watermelon salad is to add feta and herbs, I wanted something that would make more sense in context. To this end, I leaned into the idea of attempting to make it more tropical.
I've been having a hankering for pineapple lately, so I grabbed a fresh one at the store. I picked a few jalapeños from my garden, a red onion from the pantry, a handful of cilantro and the zest and juice of a lime. And by the end of a 10 minute fruit peeling and chopping frenzy that required I empty my countertop compost a total of 3 times, I had one of the best fruit salads I've ever had the pleasure of eating.
The salad was spicy, sweet and refreshing. The burger was a perfect blend of burger and banh mi. The evening was cool and dry enough to dine al fresco (miracle of miracles in August in the South!). I highly recommend you try this dinner before the summer ends. It was perfection.
A Few Tips to Consider for the Salad
- Picking the right watermelon: Watermelons that are heavy for their size indicate that they will be super juicy. Look for dull skin and a creamy yellow patch where it rested on the ground.
- Picking the right pineapple: pick a frond from the center. It should release easily. The pineapple should also be heavy for its size and smell sweet. The exterior should be firm, but yield a little to pressure when you squeeze it.
- If you can't find a suitable fresh pineapple, use canned pineapple chunks in pineapple juice. Don't get anything that's been soaked in syrup - its far too sweet.
- Due to the porous nature of watermelon, this salad is best enjoyed shortly after assembly. If you will be pressed for time, you can cut the fruit and make the dressing ahead of time, keeping elements separate until ready to serve.
- Scroll to the second recipe for complete instructions.
A Few Tips to Consider for the Burger
- The sriracha mayonnaise can be made up to a week ahead.
- The pickled veggies should be made at least a day in advance. Because we're trying to cut down on sugar, I opted for rice wine vinegar which is naturally sweeter than the white vinegar TMP's recipe called for. I also swapped agave for regular sugar and cut the amount used in half. Finally, I couldn't find daikon at my store, so I opted for regular radishes instead.
- The burger mix can be made up to a night ahead.
- The burger mix has some dry ingredients, including corn starch. Be sure to sprinkle the cornstarch on the mix last and immediately begin to mash it up with your hands so it doesn't turn into chunks. You want it evenly distributed.
- Be sure to toast those buns! The sesame oil imparts a ton of flavor, and the crunch factor is greatly improved with a little time on the heat.
Banh Mi Pork Burgers
Pickled Banh Mi Vegetables
- 10 Brioche Burger Buns
- ⅓ C Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Cucumber sliced thin
- 1 bunch Cilantro roughly chopped, tough stems removed
- 3 Jalapeños sliced thin (optional)
- Make pickled vegetables at least a day ahead for maximum flavor. Put julienned carrots and radishes in mason jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. Sprinkle with salt, shaking to coat. Let rest 10 minutes, then add remaining ingredients. Shake again, cover and refrigerate for up to a month.
- Combine all ingredients for sriracha aioli and set aside. Can be made up to a week in advance.
- Combine all ingredients for burger patties in a large mixing bowl. Using a muffin sized disher, separate into 10 evenly sized patties, smooshing them slightly. Grill on medium-high for about 5 minutes per side, or until the inside reaches 160F.
- While patties are cooking, lightly brush inside of brioche buns with sesame oil. When burgers are almost finished, grill buns oil side down until toasted and golden brown.
- Assemble the banh mi burgers, spreading sriracha aioli on the bun, topping with cucumbers, burger patty, cilantro and mostly drained pickled veggies. Enjoy!
- Pickle vegetables at least one day in advance. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- Sriracha aioli can be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated.
- Burger patties can be made up to a day ahead, then placed in an airtight container with no air touching the meat to prevent oxidation.
Spicy Pineapple Watermelon Salad
- 1 Fresh Pineapple peeled and cubed. Sub canned pineapple in juice drained
- ½ medium Watermelon peeled and cubed
- ½ Red Onion minced
- 2-3 Jalapeños sliced thinly
- ½ bunch Cilantro tough stems removed and roughly chopped
- ¼ C Olive Oil
- 1-2 Lime(s) zested and juiced (3 Tbsp)
- 2 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Agave or more to taste
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, agave, salt and pepper.
- In large bowl, combine pineapple, watermelon, cilantro and red onion. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.