Last month, I had one of the most rewarding culinary trips imaginable. I was aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Muse for a pilot voyage for its new Silversea S.A.L.T. program, an acronym for Sea And Land Taste. This new Culinary program was amazing start to finish. Much of it thanks to Adam Sachs, 3-time James Beard Award Winning Food Writer and former Editor of Saveur magazine. He invented one of the most comprehensive culinary arts program ever to go to sea.
It was filled with opportunities for diving into the food culture of the three countries we visited. We started in Bali, moved on to Borneo and finally ended our trip in the Philipines. You may recall that I started reporting on this adventure backwards—with my visit to Manila and a banquet that was a true culmination of this trip. (Here’s the link in case you missed it….https://chewingthefat.us.com/2019/04/my-travels-the-philippines-and-a-recipe-for-lamb-shanks-from-one-of-their-most-famous-chefs-sau-del-rosario.html)
Ever since I got home, I have been working on recipes that were part of the trip. I’ve had some stumbles along the way. Balinese raw ingredients have been particularly hard to find. As are those of Malaysia’s Borneo. As a result, I am still working to bring you a taste of these places. But I couldn’t wait to share this discovery from the Philippines. A burger so remarkable, it won out in a New York Burger Contest against all comers. And it’s from a great cookbook. “I am Filipino. And this is how we cook”. (Artisan Books 2018)
Written by Nicole Ponseca along with her then-partner Miguel Trinidad, it is a virtual encyclopedia of Filipino Cooking written with an American audience in mind. And Nicole, who met us in Manila, could not be a better person to write it. She is a San Diego-born Filipino, who came to New York and quickly became fed up with being asked for Thai Restaurant recommendations. She left her life in Advertising and opened New York’s first (and until recently, only) Filipino restaurant “Jeepney” (201 First Avenue,Tel: (212) 533-4121 ). Nicole’s goal is to assure that Filipino Cuisine has its moment in the sun just as Szechuan, Hunan, and yes, Thai food had theirs. If the book is any indication, her gospel is taking root.
The book made it onto 2018 lists of the best cookbooks out there. And I discovered why. “I am Filipino. And this is how we cook”, covers the length and breadth of the Philippines, a country with 7641 islands. It explains Filipino ingredients, cooking techniques and explores the range of influences that have shaped its food. Centuries ago, the Chinese came with their noodles and dumplings. Some 700 years ago, Muslin Arab Traders and Malay tribes moved to Mindanoa and developed a penchant for curries and coconut. It was in 1541 that the islands were named “Las Islas Filipinas”, in honor of Phillip II of Spain. The Philippines were to remain part of the Spanish Empire for over 300 years. They even had a connection to Mexico. Cue the tomatoes and tamales. Finally, in 1898 the Yanks arrived part of a deal with Spain which came along with Puerto Rico, Guam and a $20,000,000 payment.
It’s with a pinch of irony, that today’s recipe is for what may be the world’s most famous American dish, the hamburger. But perhaps no other item in “I am Filipino” shows how brilliantly a Filipino cook can take on an icon like the hamburger. This hamburger has the distinction of having won New York City’s “Battle of the Burger” several years ago. And no wonder. It’s crazy good. Its origins are not just Nicole and Miguel’s Jeepney kitchen. Although I didn’t get there, the Island of Boracay has the distinction of being a wily popular beach destination. There on boardwalk-lined beaches, push cart vendors, sell sliders made with a Filipino sausage called longanisa. This tastes like a very close cousin of Spain’s chorizo sausage.
In fact, if you can’t find longanisa, by all means use chorizo in the recipe. What Jeepney did was to combine two ounces of the sweet, garlicky sausage with about three times that amount of ground beef—preferably and 80/20 mixture of beef to fat. They topped it with sweet pickles called atsara. They also used a blend of Maggi Seasoning Sauce and Japan’s Kewpie Mayonnaise to slather on the Brioche or Potato buns. Also included atop the burger was a generous slug of banana ketchup. This ketchup was made from bananas when tomatoes were hard to come by.
It’s a delicious take on ketchup, with an even sweeter taste than the real thing. I highly recommend trying to put the original ingredients together for this dish. Maggi is easy to find It’s like liquid umami and often placed with steak and soy sauces. Longanisa is the perfect size for the recipe because it comes in two-ounce sections. Zewpie Mayonnaise has a cult following and it’s found in most Asian markets. Atsara pickles come in a jar. Plus, there’s a recipe for Banana Ketchup Ribs that I can’t wait to try. I was able to find all the ingredients needed for the dish at ASIA Market, 71 ½ Mulberry St. in Chinatown. You can find everything you need on-line at www.filstop.com. Here is the recipe and after it, several other Burger Recipes we’ve featured on Chewing The Fat.
The Chori Burger
An absolutely fantastic take on a hamburger using the Sweet, Salty and simply sensational tastes of the Philippines
- 1 ½ lbs. (680 grams) Ground Beef preferably 80/20 lean to fat.
- ½ lb. (225 g) longanisa, casings removed
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. Maggi Seasoning Sauce
- 1 tbsp. Kewpie Mayonnaise
- Vegetable Oil
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 challah buns, potato rolls or soft hamburger buns
- Spicy or Regular Banana Ketchup (often labelled Banana Sauce)
- ¼ red onion sliced very thin
- 1 (120 g) Atsara pickles
- 4 Boston or Bibb Lettuce leaves
- Step 1 Line your work surface and a plate or baking sheet with waxed paper.
- Step 2 Set a 3 ½ inch (8.75 cm) ring mold on the work surface. (I used a small sized plastic deli container). Press one quarter of the ground beef (about 6 ounces or 170 g) into the bottom of themold. Make sure the surface of the beef is flat and firmly pressed down in the mold or plastic container.
- Step 3 Top the beef with one of the 2 oz. longanisa sausages with casings removed. Gently but firmly press the sausage down onto the beef in a single layer so the surface is flat and the sausage is firmly pressed down into the mold against the beef.
- Step 4 Gently remove the patty from the mold and put it on the lined plate. Repeat the process to make 3 more burgers. Refrigerate the burgers while you make the Maggi Kewpie mayo and fire up the griddle or skillet.
- Step 5 In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Maggi and Kewpie Mayonnaise until totally incorporated. Set aside.
- Step 6 Grease a griddle or large skillet with vegetable oil. (The pan should be large enough to hold all four burgers at the same time without the burgers touching. If not, cook them in batches.)
- Step 7 Heat the griddle or skillet over medium to medium high heat until it is very hot and a drop of water sizzles on contact.
- Step 8 Remove the burgers from the refrigerator, season them on all sides with salt and pepper and place them on the griddle with the longanisa side down
- Step 9 Cook for about 3 minutes or until the longanisa develops a black-brown crust. Flip the burgers and cook for about 4 minutes more for medium rare or until the interior temperature reaches 135 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Transfer the burgers to a cutting board or plate to rest.
- Step 10 Reduce the heat under the griddle slightly and place the buns cut-side down in the fat. Cook until golden brown, about two minutes. This will likely have to be done in batches.
- Step 11 Once the buns are toasted, spread both sides of each bun with a generous spoonful of the Maggi Kewpie mayonnaise. Put the burgers bed side down on the bottom buns, then top the patties with a dollop of banana ketchup, a slice of red onion (briefly cooked if you like), add a ¼ cup Atsara pickles * and a lettuce leaf. Add the top bun and serve immediately.
- Step 12 *My version omitted Atsara Pickles
Some other burger recipes for your viewing pleasure….