Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lessons of a Kung Pao Burger

Lessons of a Kung Pao Burger

It is a thing of intense flavor and beauty between the top and bottom of an Onion Burger bun.  My "Kung Pao" Burger.  One of my most daring burgers to date, it contains spices and herbs, seasoned bacon, cheese and a seasoned egg.  It is also a labor of love which provided me with culinary lessons.  I hope you will continue reading to learn my lessons; what I could and should have done to make it better.  

One of my ultimate favorite Chinese food dishes is Kung Pao Chicken.  I cannot Even begin to tell you how much I love it and yes, whichever Chinese food restaurant I dine at, I order it.  But you know me, I would some day create either a taco or a burger out of Kung Pao spices and sauces!  And yes, I have made Kung Pao Chicken; you are most welcome to search my posts for my recipe! Thank You!

Well, let's get to it, shall we? 

My Chinese Spice Blend
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom 
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, partly ground
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
1 teaspoon dried, ground bamboo shoots
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon both salt and pepper

Wet Ingredients
2 tablespoons Shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons Ponzu
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
1 tablespoon Chili Sauce
1/2 cup Kung Pao Sauce *

*I used Panda Express Kung Pao Sauce. I love it!  Use whichever brand you wish!!!

I add two pounds of ground beef, one lean sirloin and the other fairly lean ground chuck, to a large bowl. This is my usual burger routine, ergo the present tense verbs. I sprinkle half of the spice mix atop the ground beef and gently fold in, not a thorough mix. Afterward, I add half of the Kung Pao sauce, the other wet ingredients and all but a roundedn tablespoon of the spice mixture to the ground beef and more thoroughly incorporate that into the meat. I try to not over-mix the meat as over-mixing causes the meat to fall apart more readily due warming fats when frying or grilling. 

Flatten out the meat in the bowl and score the meat to include the number of burgers you wish to make. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for a bit while prepping the other parts the burger. 

I fried halved slices of bacon seasoned gently with part of the remaining spice mix. Place the bacon on paper towels to sop up the extra fat. The aroma will be amazing and your kitchen will be a temple of flavor! 

Next, if you choose, fry eggs and lightly season with some of the remaining spice mix. Just a tiny amount. 

Remove the meat, form the patties and bring a large skillet or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.  Or, fire up your grill!  Fry or grill the burgers how you like them.  I make mine large and thick (4 burgers out of the two pounds. Hey, I don't make teeny burgers!) so mine take longer than most people's. Five minutes-to-seven minutes per side on the grill or seven-to-eight minutes in a skillet per side. This should produce a medium burger, or medium-well, depending on the calibration of your grill or stove top.  

After you have flipped your burger over, it should have a great caramelization on it!!! Time to add cheese if you choose to.  I added two slices of Provolone to each burger and allowed it to melt under a foil tent as the other side cooked. 

I brushed on a little extra virgin olive oil dusted with garlic powder to the tops and bottoms of the onion buns and broiled them.  I LOVE that garlicky flavor! 

I stacked my burger a bit differently, this time.  I simply added two tablespoons mayo mixed with a tablespoon of Kung Pao Sauce and two tablespoons mustard with Chinese Chili Sauce.  I spread the mayo on the bottom bun, the mustard on the top.  I added the seasoned bacon to the bottom bun, the burger, the egg and bun.  I added a little leftover (previously frozen) spicy herb chimichurrri with ginger atop the cheese prior to placing the egg atop the burger. 

 What?  Another view or two?  Of course!!!

Lessons Learned from my Kung Pao Burger. 

What I would do different is:  I would halve and grill scallions with perfect greens and place them on the burger and skip the egg.  I would slice up ginger and bamboo shoots (I love their crunch), and fresh garlic saute them in toasted sesame oil and either dice them and add that to the meat or perhaps fry it in scrambled eggs and place atop the burger.  Have not figured that part out but the fresh ingredients would provide a much-needed depth to an already fragrant and delicious burger.  I hope you try this burger recipe out, learn the lessons I have and enjoy this monster of flavor and heartiness!!!

As always, I am grateful for your time and consideration, my awesome readers.  And in Your Own Way, PLEASE PRAY for those in the path of Hurricane Irma and for those who will continue after she passes, and also for those digging out from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  My prayers and thoughts are with you ALL.      

In-House Cook