These Bánh Mì Burgers with Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon were developed in partnership with Ohio Beef. As always, all opinions are my own.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit several beef farms here in Ohio. One of the things I love about living in Columbus is we enjoy all the benefits of big city living while only being a 45 minute drive from country life. I grew up in a rural community surrounded by cornfields, so while I love city life, something about wide open fields, silos, and the faint scent of cow manure will always feel like home.
Just a little south of the city, we met the Jepsens and the Hoffmans, first and second generation beef cattle farmers. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with a farmer, I come away with renewed respect for the incredibly difficult but important job they have. I was grateful to have the chance to speak with each family, and was amazed by their transparency and openness about the entire process of raising, butchering, and bringing beef to our tables. These men and women have an impressive level of expertise about everything from cow behavior and biology to efficient, sustainable land usage. They work long hours in 90 degree heat and below freezing temperatures. No one becomes a farmer because they want to make a lot of money and live a super comfortable life. You have to have a passion for this type of work, and that passion was evident in both farmers we spoke to. The Jepsens and Hoffmans are just two of the 17,000 beef family farmers who are committed to providing excellent care of their animals and protecting the environment for future generations, often without thanks or recognition for the vital role they play in bringing safe, quality food to our tables.
After meeting with local beef farmers, we had the pleasure of dining and cooking with Peter Chapman, Regional Chef at Cameron Mitchell restaurants. In about a 36 hour window, we tried beef in about 10 different forms, some familiar and some not so familiar. We had roasts and ribeyes, meatballs and carpaccio, hangar steak and shepherd’s pie. Everything was carefully made and artfully plated. You might think in a line up this exquisite the humble burger couldn’t stand up, but you’d be wrong. Even amidst a sea of lovely and delectable beef dishes, the simple burger held it’s own, enticing all of us with it’s rich flavor and dribble-down-the-chin-juiciness.
If you’re not familiar with the traditional bánh mì sandwich, here’s a quick run down. This Vietnamese favorite is stacked with juicy roasted pork and pickled vegetables, typically a combination of carrots, daikon radish, and sometimes cucumber. It often has a spicy mayonnaise based sauce and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. It’s fresh and crunchy, with a range of textures and tastes to enjoy.
To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how the bright, sweet and sour flavors of a classic báhn mì would convert to burger form, but it turns out beef and pickled vegetables belong together. The puckery crunch of the carrots and daikon really helps balance out the richness of the beef. Think about how dill pickles give a burger that hint of crunch and acidity, now multiply that effect by about five. It’s perfection. Pair it with fresh jalapeno slices (for those how can handle the extra heat), fresh cilantro, and a spicy Sriracha mayo and you have yourself one heck of a burger.
A few notes on the process: Normally bánh mì vegetables need to sit for several hours or days to get their trademark sweet and sour flavor. The problem is, sometimes you need a bánh mì burger TONIGHT. That’s where these quick pickled vegetables come in. Made in the time it takes you to fry up the hamburgers and set the table, these vegetables are ready to go in 30 minutes. However, if you happen to have the time (and foresight) to make classic pickled vegetables, I recommend checking out the White on Rice Couple’s Vietnamese Pickled Vegetable recipe.
I like to use a mixture of carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber for these burgers, but you can omit the cucumber if you prefer. I was able to find daikon at my local Kroger, but if you have trouble finding it, I think you could substitute red radishes with good results!
The quick pickled vegetables stay good for a few days, and make enough for 6 (heavily loaded) sandwich. If you need less, I recommend halving the recipe.
To make perfect grilled burgers, be sure to preheat your grill to at least 450 degrees. The high heat gives the meat a nice sear. After a minute, you can reduce the heat to around 350 for the remainder of the cooking time. I like to shape the beef patties, then put a small thumbprint in the center so they cook evenly and don’t get that domed shape typical of homemade burgers. Most importantly, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, smash, poke, prod or otherwise torment your patties while they’re cooking. This causes all those delicious juices to escape and end up in the bottom of your grill rather than in your mouth where you want them. Leave the patties alone (besides flipping and testing for temperature), and you’ll be rewarded with tender, juicy burgers everyone will love.
Banh Mi Burgers
- 1 cup shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)
- 1 cup daikon radish (about 1 daikon)
- 1 cup cucumber ((about 1 English cucumber)
- 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the burgers
- 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Sliced jalapenos
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sriracha
- In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, radish, cucumber, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes. If you're preparing this ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Note: It will smell horrendous the following day, but will still be good to eat. You've been warned.
- Preheat the grill to 450 degrees. For the burgers, gently mix the salt into the ground beef using your fingers. Shape into 5 patties and place a small thumbprint divot in the center of each one. Grill the burgers for about a minute on high heat, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to grill until liquid starts to form on the top of the burger and it easily lifts off the grate. Flip and grill until the internal temperature reaches 145 for medium rare or 160 for medium well.
- To serve, place the burgers in buns and top with cilantro, jalapenos, and pickled vegetables. Mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha and spread on top.