Pork burger with Black Bean Garlic Sauce, 5 spice, and Cantonese Vegetables
There are many countries that we’ve explored so far that have been difficult – most because there is so little information, so few recipes for inspiration, and limited food resources. Well, now for something completely different we have arrived (alphabetically) at China. With 1.3billion people, China has more residents than all of the countries that we’ve explored so far, combined! It’s geographically huge (4th largest in the world), really old and really heavily populated (in fact they’re #1 in the world). The problem with China is that there is too much information.
I usually start my research making sure I understand the geography and any big notes in the history and/or current events. Geography is easy (except for the spelling);
China is located on the east coast of Asia, bordering Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and of course, the Pacific Ocean. There is the issue of Taiwan and whether you consider that a separate country or not – which is one of the reasons why I’m using UN status as my country definition – it keeps me out of the politics. I know, I’m a coward, but I’m just in this for the food.
My next step in the research is to search for information about the food – usually this starts with the simple step of searching “Chilean food or Chinese food”, you get the idea. So, I did a Google search on “Chinese food” – try it yourself, it’s fascinating _ there were over 340million results! For comparison, “Chilean food” yields a little over 14million results. Narrow it down to “Chinese recipes” and you get 196million hits, “Chinese burger” gets you 49million…well, you get the idea. There are 8 different distinct styles of Chinese cuisine and I’m pretty sure I could spend the next ten years studying and still feel like a novice in the complexity of the cuisine of China.
There’s the further challenge of the fact that so many people have eaten so much Chinese food that we all have a sense of what the food tastes like. While with every other country we’ve explored, I’ve felt like I’ve been able to surprise myself and my family with new flavors – here I was just hoping not to make bad Chinese food!
I chose to tackle Cantonese style food as it is widely reported to be the most popular and of the 8 styles. It is what I think of a classic Chinese food – a little sweet, not spicy, lots of shallots, mushrooms and green pepper – stir fry, and, of course rice. All of these work great for a burger. I chose pork for the meat, although chicken would also be good, then created a classic sauce, stir fried some veggies and put it all together over rice. The final burger has a great earthy flavor with the tangy black bean garlic sauce balanced with a little sweetness and this works really well with the shallots and veggie mix. Chinese five spice adds a little exotic flavor to the meat that gives the whole dish more interest and a more authentic feeling flavor. We found the only challenge was that the big piece of meat seems out of place with Chinese food, so definitely make the full amount of sauce so that you can add extra to the burger and keep everything nice and moist.
Everyone in the family (even my dad) enjoyed the burger – Chinese food is a great crowd pleaser! I served a nice pinot noir with this one and the slight spiciness and light fruit complimented the umami earthiness of the burger.
1 pound ground pork
½ teaspoon Chinese five spice mixture
1 teaspoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Fresh ground pepper
1½ cup white rice (cooked to package directions)
Grilled bok choy (recipe below)
Cantonese Vegetables (recipe below)
Black Bean Garlic Sauce (recipe below)
2 green onions chopped
Mix the meat and five spice until well combined, then form into four patties. Pour ½ teaspoon of soy over each of the burgers and top with fresh ground pepper. In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Place the patties in the hot pan and grind fresh pepper over the top. Cook until browned (about 3-5 minutes) then turn and cook until done.
Cook the rice to the package directions. Divide into four portions and scoop rice onto plates. Top with grilled bok choy then the burger patty. Scoop on a generous helping of the Cantonese Vegetables and spoon some extra sauce on the top and finish with a sprinkle of green onion. Serve hot with extra sauce on the side.
Grilled bok choy
Four leaves of bok choy (stems trimmed off)
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
Heat oil until smoking then place the bok choy in the oil. Cook for about one minute then turn and cook for another minute. You want light browning in places, but you don’t want to burn the bok choy, so this goes really fast. Place cooked pieces on paper towel until ready to use and blot to get any excess oil off.
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups cremini mushrooms sliced (you can substitute button mushrooms)
¼ cup oyster mushrooms chopped (you can substitute any other mushroom you like)
½ green pepper sliced into thin strips and cut in half so the pieces are about 1” long
1 large shallot sliced thin (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic sliced thin
2 green onions sliced thin (use both the white and dark green parts)
In a wok or large frying pan heat the oil until smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook stirring constantly for about two minutes. Add the peppers, shallots and garlic and cook until mushrooms are just soft and peppers are starting to soften stirring the whole time. Add half of the Black Bean Garlic Sauce and just heat through quickly. This is best when used right away, but you can save leftovers and eat them next day – the veggies will just lose a little bit of their firmness, but the flavor will still be great.
Black Bean Garlic Sauce
2 Tablespoons Kikkoman black bean sauce with garlic (there are lots of other brands you can use too, but every one has a different flavor – I tried three and I liked this one the best)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat until just simmering. Use half with the vegetables and half as extra for the table.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach