|Hot-Sour-Salty Thai Herb Sliders|
There is so much to discover in Thailand - a country that offers a huge range of new experiences in sights, sounds, tastes, and outlook. But different as it may be from our own home, Thailand is probably the easiest exotic country for visitors. The people are friendly, leisure activities are well organized and the food is great.
Thai food is renowned around the world for its fine blend of spices and ingredients. Standing at the crossroads of India, China and Asian Oceania, Thailand has adapted cooking techniques and ingredients from each of these major influences. The beauty of Thai cooking is that when you understand it it can easily be adapted to North American dishes like the one below.
As always I feel the best way to discover a country is through its people and to immerse yourself in its culture. What better way to create friendships than to share a table together. This time around I am taking a virtual tour with Tell Tale Travel for their Tamarind and Spice Culinary Tour. We chopped and ate our way around four regions of Thailand. Local experts introduced us to an amazing variety of flavours and shared their personal recipes and cooking techniques.
We took a boat trip along the Chao Phraya Rivera and visited the magnificent Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha with an expert guide; stayed at the village headman's elegant but simple teak house where life has remained unchanged for years. The village headman's wife herself showed us how to pick the best vegetables at the bustling local market and shared her family's recipes for regional specialities. We biked along the rice paddy fields on a quiet afternoon as well as experienced an island hopping adventure around the Hong archipelago, a series of uninhabited islands with pristine white beaches and hidden lagoons. These are considered to be the most beautiful in the region. Here we snorkelled amid tropical fish on the coral reef and had a picnic lunch.
Thai food has been a huge hit all over the world with Thai restaurants in many suburbs and parts of our cities serving a range of curry puffs, soups, curries and stir fries. At its best, the flavours of sweet, sour, salty and tangy are balanced and when used cleverly, you feel your taste buds dance!!
The dish I have chosen is reminiscent of Thai flavours adapted for ingredients I have on hand. Larb is a traditional Thai appetizer served as cooked, crumbled ground meat seasoned with the cooling flavors of lime, mint, and cilantro. Here, the dish morphs into mini-chicken burgers, made with the same refreshing ingredients and topped with bountiful fresh herbs. To help achieve the perfect balance of hot-sour-salty-sweet, choose breadcrumbs on the sweetish side.
Ground chicken can be quite dry when cooked but these patties stay moist and tender. The added bonus is they have a flavour you cannot quite put your finger on. One thing for sure they are delicious!!!
ขอให้เจริญอาหาร! (kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!)
**Hot-Sour-Salty-Sweet Thai Herb Sliders**
adapted from Kate Heyhoe of Kate's Global Kitchen
Thai Seasoning Sauce
1 large lime (or 2 small)
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuac mam)*
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 green onion
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1/2 ounce)
1/4 cup packed cilantro or parsley(1/4 ounce)
2 large cloves garlic
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or use 1 lb ground chicken)
1 egg white
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil
8 small burger buns, buttered and toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise (the mayo I use is olive oil based)
Small, tender lettuce or spinach leaves; fresh mint and cilantro
*Note: Nam pla, or fish sauce, is found in Asian markets.
For the Thai Seasoning Sauce: Strip the zest from the lime and set aside for the larb patties.
Squeeze 2 tablespoons lime juice. Mix the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and red pepper together until the sugar is dissolved. (Makes 4 tablespoons.)
For the Larb Patties: Set up a medium to standard size food processor with steel chopping blade. Cut the green onion into 1-2 inch pieces for processing. Drop lime zest, green onion, mint, cilantro, and garlic into the chopping bowl. Pulse to coarsely chop. Add 2 tablespoons Seasoning Sauce and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl.
Cut the chicken into large (1-inch or so) chunks. Without rinsing the processor's chopping bowl, pulse the chicken chunks into small but coarse bits (about the size of large corn kernels; you want some texture- If using ground chicken, omit this step). Scrape into the mixing bowl, and stir into the herb mixture. Stir in the egg whites, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper until evenly mixed. Chill until ready to use (up to 4 hours).
For toppings: Stir together the mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Seasoning Sauce. With a vegetable peeler, shred the carrot into thin strips; just before serving, toss the carrot strips with the remaining 1 tablespoon Seasoning Sauce in a small cup or bowl.
Heat the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. The larb mixture may be too soft to shape into patties. With a standard size ice cream scoop (or 2 spoons), drop mounds of larb into the skillet, to create 8 patties. Brown on one side, then gently flip the patties over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the chicken is no longer raw, but still moist. Total cooking time is 7-9 minutes.
To serve: For each slider, arrange lettuce or spinach on the lower bun, top with a larb patty, followed by mint and cilantro leaves, the seasoned carrot, and a spoonful of seasoned mayonnaise. Top with the upper bun and serve.
Makes 8 sliders
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