We loved Vietnam so much that when we were reaching the maximum stay in the country of 30 days, we panicked and immediately when to a travel agents to pay a crazy amount of money for an extension to our visa to stay longer. Even one or two bad experiences during the 5-6 week stay in Vietnam wouldn't deter us (a brief mugging; stranded in a train on side of a cliff during a typhoon for 3 days; extreme mosquito mauling - all of which was character building).
The food is sublime, the street food, the Pho, the Bia Hoi (fresh beer), and my ultimate favourite the spring rolls (both deep fried and fresh alike). One of the most popular street food in Vietnam is Banh Mi. This is basically a spicy marinated pork (think ginger, chilli, garlic, Lemongrass) lime, fresh herbs, vegetable pickle, and a punchy dipping sauce; all enveloped in crusty baguette the Vietnamese are now as famous as France for. These are for sale on most street corners in Vietnam from food hawkers. On our journeys on the road with the Easy Riders (look them up) we saw a few stationed in long stretches of highways also. They always drew a crowd.
(Me and Jung, my Easy Rider, in Dalat, Vietnam, Oct 2007)
Here is a quick Friday Night Burger Night homage to the humble Banh Mi! The burst of freshness cannot be replicated in any other nations' burgers! You need to try it to see what I mean!
- 500g of Irish Quality Assured Pork Mince
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger
- 1 tbsp of chopped and deseeded red chili
- 1 tbsp of chopped lemongrass
- 1 egg
- Zest of a lime
- Juice of 1/4 of lime
- 3 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- 1 tbsp of brown sugar
- 1 grated onion
- 1 grated carrot
- 1 tbsp of white vinegar
- 1 tbsp of caster sugar
- 2 tbsp of chili sauce
- 5 tbsp of mayo
Homemade French Fries
- 2 rooster potatoes, cut into thin chips
- 1 tbsp of oil
- 1 tbsp of Chinese 5 spice powder
- Burger Buns (I'm using Slimbos to keep the Carbs low)
- Extra lime wedges
- Extra fresh coriander and some fresh mint leaves.
- Combine all the burger ingredients in a non metallic bowl and stir very well to ensure mixed through.
- Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Wet your hands and shape 5-6 burger patties into your hands and lay them on the tray.
- Put in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the carrot pickle, simply combine the 3 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Likewise with the chili mayo, stir both ingredients together and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Add the potato chips, the oil,and 5-spice to a bowl. Stir thoroughly.
- Lay the chips out on a single layer in a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
- Preheat a griddle pan and gently fry the burgers for 7 minutes a side. I usually finish them off in the oven for 3-4 minutes at the end. I also add the burger buns to toast in the oven at this stage too.
- So the burgers won't be too wet, I drain the carrot pickle of liquid by putting it in the middle of 2 sheets of kitchen paper and squeezing out the excess liquid over a sink.
- To plate up, spread some of the mayo on the burger bun, top with the burger, followed by the fresh herbs and carrot pickle. Finally top with the other burger bun spread generously with chili mayo. The only problem is trying to eat with dignity. NAPKINS OBLIGATORY!
- Serve with chips and extra lime wedges.
This is my ultimate burger and if you try it you will see why. It's the most flavorsome burger out there whilst staying relatively healthy in comparison to it's burger counterparts.
Tip: Wrap the leftover uncooked burgers in parchment paper and then place in a freezer bag. Will keep well in the freezer for 2 months