I’m kind of obsessed with chicken burgers (evidenced here, here, and here recently). I turn anything I can think of into a chicken burger and my list of “to-make burgers” is infinitely long. What’s not to love? They’re healthy, easy to throw together, and there’s about a million things you can do with a blank canvas like ground chicken. Some of the front runners on my short list are chicken parmesan chicken burgers, chilli mac chicken burgers, butternut squash ravioli chicken burgers (still working out the kinks on this one), and spinach artichoke chicken burgers…. Today’s concoction is derived from one of my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches – Bánh Mì.
Typically, a bánh mì sandwich is made with some variety of pork, topped with a sweet and spicy slaw, and stuffed into a crusty roll. It’s spicy, sweet, crunchy, and has a touch of acidity – pretty much anything you could want in a sandwich.
I’ve seen no less than a dozen versions, but one of my favorites to date was a vegetarian version where tempura sweet potatoes were the star instead of pork. While I fell in love with that variation, I knew that Kevin wouldn’t have be keen on eating something that wasn’t particularly hearty. So instead of replicating the vegetarian version, I decided to take the same elements and turn it into a chicken burger that would satisfy both of our appetites.
Enter: The Bánh Mi Chicken Burger.
I’m all about playing with traditionalism and creating my own spin on a classic, but the one thing that’s a must in any variation of bánh mì, are the pickled veggies. Without them, the sandwich would just be a sad piece of bread with some meat on it – no sweetness, no spiciness, no crunchiness, and no bánh mì.
Traditional pickling components include carrots and daikon radish that are boiled together in a little rice wine vinegar, sugar, and fresh chili pepper, then left to steep until cool and pickle-y. (<— a real word)
Daikon radishes can be somewhat tricky to find, especially in smaller markets, so a substitution of traditional radishes is totally fine.
After the vegetables have become sweet, spicy and acidic from the pickling liquid, it’s drained of the excess juice, then tossed with a tiny bit of sesame oil and plenty of fresh cilantro.
The chicken burgers themselves are made up of ground chicken breast (but you can use a mix of thigh and breast if that’s what you prefer), minced carrot, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and lots of garlic and onion for moisture – and flavor of course.
Ground chicken can be a bit finicky on the grill since it’s typically less sturdy than a traditional ground beef patty so I threw in a little bit of panko bread crumbs to aid in a more firm patty and an easier grilling situation – of course you can always cook these inside as well.
Since I loved the addition of sweet potato in the vegetarian version, I decided to use it as a topping to the actual burger instead of the star ingredient and ended up liking it much better.
The finishing touch is a generous dousing of sriracha mayo on a toasted bun of your choice – mine being brioche, but a nice crusty ciabatta roll would be an excellent choice as well.
Assembly of the sandwich is effortless. Bread – patty – sweet potato – thinly sliced cucumber – pickled veggies – bread with sirracha mayo – done.
- 1 lb ground chicken breast
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp julienned carrots, divided (mince 2 tablespoons carrot for burger patties)
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3/4 tsp sesame oil, divided
- 2 large garlic cloves, grated
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 small onion, grated
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup julienned diakon radish
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 serrano chile, thinly sliced
- 1 medium sweet potato, sliced thin
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup low-fat mayo
- 3 1/2 tsp sriracha
- 1/2 medium cucumber sliced thin
- 4 brioche buns
- Cast iron skillet
- Add ground chicken breast, fish sauce, soy sauce, 2 tbsp minced carrot, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, onion and panko to a large bowl. Mix until combined. Form into four patties. Chill for five minutes.
- For the pickled veggies: Bring vinegar, water, sugar, chili and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add carrots and radishes. Boil 1 minute. Cover and remove from stove, let cool.
- Toss sweet potatoes with one teaspoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook burgers and sweet potato slices on the grill. The burgers should take about 4-5 minutes per side, along with the sweet potatoes. Alternately, you can cook the burgers and sweet potatoes in a cast-iron skillet on the stove. The same cooking times apply.
- While the burgers and the sweet potato cook, mix mayo and sirracha together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Drain veggies from pickling liquid. Add in remaining 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil and cilantro.
- Toast buns. Slather sirracha mayo on top and bottom bun. Place burger patty on bun, then top with sweet potato slices, cucumbers slices, pickled vegetables, and more thinly sliced Serrano peppers if desired. Cover with top bun.