Thai-Style Hamburger Wraps

Recipes reprinted with permission from PURE BEEF © 2012 by Lynne Curry, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.

Thai-Style Hamburger Wraps

When I read about a Thai hamburger at a hip LA restaurant, I had to create one for myself. These hamburgers are mixed and shaped in advance to let the sweet and spicy flavors work their way through the ground beef, which takes only twenty minutes. Wrapped inside crisp lettuce leaves and topped with quick-pickled onions and tomatoes, it’s a fresh take on good old burgers that’s perfect for gluten-free and carb-conscious friends.
 
Makes 6 servings
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and very finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup sweet chile sauce, plus additional for serving
  • 6 fresh Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds ground beef, 75 to 85 percent lean
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, sliced
  • 6 large tender lettuce leaves, such as Bibb or red leaf
  • 6 cilantro sprigs for serving
 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the shallot, ginger, lemongrass, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, sweet chile sauce, basil, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Break up the ground beef into the bowl and knead the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands until thoroughly blended. Portion the ground beef mixture into 6 equal mounds, weighing them in your hands two by two, and adjust to make them as equal as possible.
 
Working with one mound of ground beef at a time, use both hands to press it gently into a 1-inch-thick oval. Put the patty on the parchment paper and use your thumbs to make a nickel-sized impression 1/4-inch deep in the center. Repeat with the remaining ground beef mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator to marinate for about 20 minutes—much longer and the beef starts to get mushy.
 
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat (425°F to 475°F), scrape the grate clean, and oil it lightly. Place the onion into a small bowl and pour the seasoned rice wine vinegar over it and add just enough water to cover. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes, drain, and set the onion aside on a platter along with the sliced tomato, lettuce leaves, and cilantro.
 
When the grill is so hot that you can only hold your hand 4 inches above it for 5 seconds or less, place the patties on the hottest part of the grill. Cook them for 3 to 3½ minutes, then flip and cook them for 3 to 3½ minutes more for medium rare. (For medium, slide the burgers to the coolest part of the grill—or turn it off. Close the lid, and cook for 1 to 3 minutes longer.)
 
Discard the parchment paper from the baking sheet and arrange the cooked hamburgers on it. Brush them with more of the sweet chile sauce, serving the extra sauce in a small dish on the side. To serve, place 1 lettuce leaf on each plate and put a hamburger on it, then top with a tomato slice, pickled onion, and cilantro. Fold the lettuce over the hamburger to eat as a wrap or use a knife and fork.

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