Asian Chicken Burgers (with Crack Cucumbers)

How was your 4th of July? I hope it was as filled with grilling and pool time and cocktails and lazy-bones as mine was. Oh man, 5 days of nothingness was exactly what I needed mid-summer: five days of family and relaxing and going to bed early and getting up early and tanning and reading and eating, eating, eating. Well, maybe I didn’t need the eating, eating, eating part, but I did it anyways-would you expect anything less?

Independence day is clearly meant for grilling. I just don’t feel right without a piece of charred, slightly smokey meat on my plate. But who says that it has to be the all-American hotdog or beef burger on your plate? America is a melting pot right? My own parents still hold green cards from another country (that would be Canada; you know, the more polite country to our north). So isn’t the 4th the perfect time to embrace the modge podge that this place is supposed to be? I think so. How about some Asian chicken burgers to whet your pallet?

This meal was a kind of collaboration between my dad and me. He’s the griller…and the cucumber maker…and the chef, really, so I’m not sure how much credit I can actually take for these, other than maybe the initial idea. That’s alright, sharing is caring and I’m sure he won’t mind sharing a bit of the credit here, as there’s plenty of credit to go around; they were so, so good.

I had seen a recipe  for Asian Chicken Burgers a few months back and it was that recipe that these were based upon. The patties themselves, with the exception of a few proportion tweaks and the addition of garlic (der), stuck pretty closely to the original recipe: ground chicken, sweet onion, hoisin, grated ginger, sweet chili paste, soy sauce, panko. It was umami all over the place. The burgers were sweet and savory and a little bit fiery, as you would expect. But the magic really came in with the toppings.

Instead of the marinated raw mushrooms that the original recipe called for, we topped it with simple, sesame-lime coleslaw that added brightness and crunch. And then came the cracktastic cucumbers…and dad gets alllll the credit here. Essentially making a quick pickle, he doused thinly sliced cucumbers in a simple syrup made of rice wine vinegar, sugar and a few peppers for heat. The hot, sweet, vinegar-y syrup softened the cucumbers just slightly and morphed them into a refreshing, sweet-spicy condiment. These guys took the burgers from pretty good to amazing in one fell swoop.Thanks dad, I’ll be using these cucumbers on all sorts of things for the rest of the summer.

Sure, these burgers require a few ingredients that may not be in your pantry as of yet, but don’t let that dissuade you. All of the ingredients are multipurpose, can be found in the Asian section of nearly every grocery store, and once you have them, you’ll be sure to use them. Plus, none of them spoil easily, so you’re all good! Yes, you could make regular old beef burgers for your next cook out, lord knows there’s nothing wrong with that, but why not shake things up and try something different for a change? You’ll be so glad you did.

Asian Chicken Burgers with Crack Cucumbers and Sesame-Lime Slaw

Burgers adapted from Food Nework Magazine. Slaw from me and cucumbers from dad. Makes 4.

Since these are chicken burgers, you’ll need to cook them all the way through-no medium-rare here! Honestly, the cucumbers would be great on anything from fish to chicken to skirt steak. If you have left-over burgers, I think you should crumble them into big ‘0l lettuce leaves and have lettuce wraps for lunch the next day.

Asian Chicken Burgers

1 pound ground chicken
1/4 c grated vidalia onion
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/3 c panko breadcrumbs
3 T hoisin sauce
1 T grated peeled ginger
4 t low-sodium soy sauce
1 T hot Asian chili sauce, such as sambal oelek
4 sturdy kaiser or focaccia rolls
Sesame-lime Slaw (recipe below)
Sweet pickled cucumbers (recipe below)
Mayonnaise (opt)
Sriracha (opt)

  • In a large bowl, add first 8 ingredients and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined
  • Divide into 4 patties
  • Grill over a charcoal grill, 5 minutes on each side or until firm and cooked through (alternatively, bake in a 375ºF oven, for ~20 min)
  • Place one burger on the base of each bun and dress with cucumbers, slaw, sriracha and/or mayonnaise, as you see fit

Sesame-lime Slaw
You’ll want to make this immediately before serving so that the cabbage stays crunchy. You will have left over. That’s ok.

~3 c shredded cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 T sesame oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
Juice from 3 limes
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 T sugar
1/4 c. peanuts, chopped (salted or unsalted)

  • Combine all ingredients…done. Easy peasy
  • Taste it- too tart? Add more sugar. Too sweet? Add more vinegar or lime juice.

Sweet Pickled Cucumbers
You likely won’t have any left over. Truth.

One large cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
1/2 c sugar
2-3 dried whole red chilies (or a pinch of crushed red pepper, if that’s all you have)

  • Place the cucumbers in a heat-resistant bowl
  • In a small sauce pan over medium heat, simmer the vinegar, sugar and chilies until the sugar is dissolved
  • Pour the hot syrup over the cucumbers, toss to coat, and allow to sit until cool and slightly softened
  • Devour
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