Whether you knew it or not, the entire month of March is a celebration of hamburgers and one of its most common sides or toppings -- the pickle. That is correct, March is International Hamburger and Pickle Month.
Its history, like most food-oriented "holidays," "days," and "months," is obscure but it has at least been around since 1973. A Lakeland Ledger (Fla.) newspaper article reports that "Hamburger Pickle Month" is listed in Chase's Calendar of Annual Events. They also note that it is sponsored by Pickle Packers International, Inc., of Charles, Ill., so it looks as if half of the hamburger pickle's glory has been usurped by one of America's staples, the hamburger.
Besides, hamburgers already have a month -- May. And they are considered a sandwich, which has its own month as well -- August. Still, that's what it seems to be called today -- International Hamburger and Pickle Month. But, hey, there's nothing wrong with sharing.
In fact, in the spirit of international friendship and the sharing of ideas, let's take a look at a hamburger recipe with a Thai infusion from noted chef Hong Thaimee, who operates Ngam in New York City and recently challenged Bobby Flay on Season 11 of "Iron Chef." Thaimee's entrees are noted for bringing strong influences of her homeland to whatever she prepares.
Hong Thaimee’s Thai Burger
(from "Bites" on Today.com)
3 lbs Ground Beef
1 tbsp Black Soy Sauce (suggestion: Dragonfly)
2 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce (suggestion: Tiparos)
9 whole Thai Red Chilis (dried, de-seeded, soaked in water)
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 tbsp Kaffir Lime leaves
¼ cup Lemongrass (sliced)
¼ cup Garlic
¼ cup Shallots (roughly chopped)
2 tsp Turmeric (peeled and chopped)
4 Brioche buns
1 ripe garden Tomato, sliced
Cilantro-lime Mayonnaise (see recipe below)
Papaya Kraut (see recipe below)
Soak dried Thai red chilis in water (10 minutes or so to soften).
Mix all ingredients together, except for ground beef, in food processor for around 3 minutes (forming a paste). Combine paste with ground beef in a large bowl. Knead with bare hands (using proper sanitary gloves, of course) until ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide mixture into 4 balls, flatten into patties. Place patties in the fridge, let marinate for at least two hours (preferably overnight).
Prepare grill, allowing patties (removed from refrigerator) to attain room temperature for a few minutes to ensure even cooking.
If using a stove, set to medium-high, using a cast-iron skillet for cooking.
Place burger patties on grill, or oiled skillet, covering with a lid to keep the meat moist.
Grill buns and assemble burger with cilantro-lime mayonnaise, sliced garden tomato and papaya kraut.
(Cooking Note: Instead of making the mayonnaise base yourself, you can use 1 cup of store-bought mayonnaise in place of the egg yolks and oil.)
2 Egg yolks
1 cup Canola Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 Tsp Lime juice (fresh)
2 Tsp Cilantro (finely minced)
1 Lime (zest)
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
Separate egg whites from yolks; pour yolks into standing mixer bowl.
Beat eggs on highest mixer setting for 2 minutes until it turns a light yellow color.
As mixer runs, slowly add oil, about half teaspoon at a time, careful in not adding too much oil too quickly (oil and egg will separate, becoming quasi-scrambled eggs).
Once mayonnaise looks fluffy and glossy, remove from standing mixer. Fold in remaining ingredients.
½ cup Tamarind concentrate
½ cup Fish Sauce
½ cup Palm Sugar
1 ½ cup Green Papaya (shredded)
Stir all ingredients except papaya in a pot over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved,
remove from heat and cool in an ice bath for about 5 minutes.
Once at room temperature, add shredded papaya and mix.
And for the pickles? Well, here's a great recipe for making quick and spicy Thai pickles from Chef Jamie Smith at Edible Paradise. They can be made in about an hour and the spicy is optional. (They're made with chills, so all you have to do is remove the hot little items.)
Now, it certainly looks like a lot of trouble to go to just for a hamburger, but, hey, if you just wanted a plain hamburger, you could have went down to McDonald's. Besides, where your spirit of adventure, you American can-do-itiveness? In any event, if you noticed, there isn't much time required in the actual making of the hamburgers and the mayonnaise and papaya additives. The time is in allowing the burgers to marinate.
This writer enjoys much of his food as hot as possible, so, if the chili paste you've concocted via Hong Thaimee's recipe isn't hot enough, make certain you have a jar of Thai chili paste or Sriracha Sauce around to add a dollop or two to your paste to give that hamburger the spicy kick you want.
Have an enjoyable International Hamburger and Pickle Month.
(photo credit: TheGirlsNY, Creative Commons)