{Recipe} Vietnamese Style Mini Pork Burgers

A couple of things I must always have at a cookout are cheeseburgers and spicy BBQ ribs, they’re quintessential to any backyard grilling event.  The only issue I have is that the burgers are usually so big you barely have room for anything else. I’m going to fix that from now on and will be making these mini burgers! They’re the perfect size for cookouts especially when there’s so much more food to try.


For me, the burger is usually the appetizer or the first thing I grab at any cookout, then it’s just a waiting game until I’m hungry enough for those ribs! So why not just fore-go all that bread and meat and make a snack size version of a favorite? Sometimes all you need are a couple of satisfying bites to hold you over and these little Vietnamese style mini pork  burgers will do just that! They’re tasty, moist and satisfying!


I grilled these using my trusty George Foreman grill, not exactly my idea of grilling but the weather has been a bit dreary here in the past week.


These Vietnamese style mini pork burgers were inspired by one of my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches, the Banh Mi. Banh mi just means baguette in Vietnam or Saigon, where the Banh Mi hails from, and they come stuffed with seasoned meat, pickled veggies and a spicy sauce. Check out the sandwich version I made some time ago!


These pork mini burgers are spiced with Asian flavors and jalapenos and served on a mini roll. So easy to make and a nice unexpected twist to your standard cheeseburger! Surely your guests will be surprised!



Vietnamese Style Mini Pork Burgers

Cuisine: Sandwiches
Servings: 8 -10
Author: Maria


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
  • 2 stalks scallions chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pickled veggies
  • Sliced provolone cheese cut to size
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup Asian hot sauce I used Kim's Korean Hot Sauce
  • Cilantro for topping
  • Mini rolls


  • Add the pork to a bowl and mix in the next 7 ingredients and stir well until all are evenly distributed.Refrigerate for about an hour
  • Turn on the grill and while that's heating up divide meat into 4 parts and start shaping the patties into balls a little bigger than a golf ball. This makes about 20 meatballs.
  • Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and grill on each side for 5 minutes. Since I used the Foreman grill, the meat cooks on both sides at once so only cooked for about 6 minutes.
  • When burger is done melt cheese on top and grill the mini rolls.
  • Transfer the burgers onto your rolls, top with pickled veggies and cilantro.
  • Make the spicy mayo by mixing the mayo and hot sauce in a separate bowl. Spread the spicy mayo on top side of bread and enjoy.

Here’s a quick recipe for the pickled veggies. Also, if you don’t want to use all the meat for burgers, save some of the seasoned meat for dumplings!



Blackout Special Series: Spicy Curried Plantain Mash and BBQ Ribs

So hurricane Sandy knocked us around a little, actually a lot, I had no power in my neighborhood for about eight days but that didn’t stop me from cooking. Not sure if it was out of shear boredom or the fact that the meat in my refrigerator was very slowly defrosting but I was a cooking machine! I packed the freezer with frozen water bottles and that kept everything frozen for a good 4 days. The temperatures started to drop into the 30s & 40s so things lasted a little longer. I wasn’t making anything fancy, that’s not my style of cooking. I just wanted to make flavorful, delicious dishes that would fill my belly and keep my kitchen nice and warm!

BBQ ribs and curried plantain mash

I boiled a couple of green and ripe plantains and made a spicy curried mash that was unbelievably delicious. A little sweet, a little spicy and savory. In Dominican Republic we use plantains about a dozen different ways but curry isn’t a spice Dominicans use. I figured the curry would add a different dimension to the plantains with a more intense, bold flavor.  The plantains tend to be a little bland so adding a little salt when boiling brings out the flavor too.

pot of plantains

I also boiled them with the skin which I don’t normally do but have seen others do this. It actually makes it easier to remove the skin but also darkens the fruit when cooking. I prefer peeling them first before boiling since it’ll give the fruit a more bright color but it’s really a matter of personal taste. This was quick and easy to make and when you’re in the dark and can’t find ingredients, you want exactly that, a no fuss, hearty meal.

pot of bbq ribs

You can have the plantains as a side dish to compliment the ribs or if you’re a vegetarian, skip the ribs and double your serving. Plantains are very filling and a great product to stock, they’re gluten free too. The green plantains can last up to two weeks without having to be refrigerated and will only begin to ripen the longer you store them. So buy them green, they’ll last longer! It’s such a versatile fruit and normally eaten fried, boiled, mashed with a little oil, vinegar and red onions or if you want to be a little different, have them curried!

BBQ Ribs
serves 3-4

2 lbs spare ribs
1-2 tbsp Adobo seasoning
1-2 tbsp oil
1 cup Spicy BBQ Sauce, I used Dinosaur’s Wango Tango Habanero Hot BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce, optional

1. Boil ribs in 2 quarts of water seasoned with Adobo until fully cooked. Drain off water after cooking.

2. In same pot add oil and brown the ribs. Add the barbeque sauce, hot sauce and let sauce reduce until ribs are sticky

Curried Plantain Mash
serves 2

1 green plantain
1 ripe plantain
1 tbsp salt
1-2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 dashes of cayenne pepper

1. Peel plantains and cut in half crosswise or just cut in half and boil with skin in a pot of salted water for about 10 minutes.

2. Remove the ripe plantains since  they cook faster. Continue cooking green plantains until fork tender. Lower the heat and drain the water from the pot.

3. In same pot mash the plantains with a potato masher or fork. Plantains should look like a chunky version of mashed potatoes.

4. Add butter, curry, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper and continue stirring until butter melts.

5. Serve immediately

Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers

I made these for dinner the other night and really had to stop myself from eating all of it! These Asian inspired skewers are spicy, flavorful, and trust me, you will be licking your fingers.

These are perfect for a week night dinner since it only takes as long as you need to marinate, fire up the grill and cook. You can also save some time by marinating the night before. When I get home late from work I just want something quick, light and satisfying so I don’t feel so weighted down afterwards. Pairing these spicy Asian chicken skewers with a chilled Gruner Veltliner is perfect and one of my go-to wines for spicy foods since it’s fruity and refreshing but not sweet. This really hit the spot!

What spicy dish do you like to make when time is not on your hands?

Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers
yields about 8-10 skewers

1 lb chicken breast or chicken tenders
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp scallions, chopped

1. Mix all ingredients, except for the chicken, in a bowl and stir well.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into strips or use pre-cut chicken tender and place in a bowl. Add the liquid mixture to chicken and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3. Skewer the chicken and grill for about 15 minutes.

I made these in an indoor grill and was able to use some of the drippings to keep the skewers moist. You can reserve some of the liquid also and cook on stove top quickly since its had raw chicken in it and pour the reduced sauce over skewers. Enjoy!

Also, if you want a heavier meal just make a side of white rice or grill some of your favorite veggies.  A side of grilled Chinese broccoli would go well with these. Just be sure to grill them separately since meats and vegetables have different cook times.

Weekend Well Spent: Big Apple BBQ in NYC

Had a great time at the 10th annual Big Apple BBQ in Madison Square Park, NYC this weekend. If you’ve ever been to the park, its a nice respite from city life but of course not as big as Central Park. Actually it only spans about a city block and is the home of the first ever infamous Shake Shack, but burgers were not on my mind, next time! Thank goodness the rain held back and only got a light shower as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t going to let a little rain stop me and neither were the folks running the show. The music was blaring, grills were fired up, beer was flowing and the umbrellas were out, three out of four, not bad.

The Jon Langford band playing country, folk music to kick things off.

The drizzle finally stopped and it was smooth sailing until the very end. The Baker’s Ribs pit masters from Texas seem to be having a great time in spite of the showers and the humidity but they’re from Texas so I’m sure they get it worse down there…glad it was them and not me!

JC Brooks and his band from Chicago were awesome!

The baby back ribs from Pappy’s Smokehouse of St Louis, Missouri were amazingly good. Spicy, tangy, sweet and everything a good sauce should be! Loved it, one of my favorites from the event.

Pork and beans, delicious!

Southern Culture on the Skids! Head boppin’, hip swaying funky music.

I wish there was enough time to try all of the out of state pit masters but the lines were just way too long. Some lines had about 200 people so tried to make my way over to the fastest moving one. The best strategy for any of these types of events is to get there early with a small group and have each of your friends stand in different lines so you get to try everything. Well, next time. Below is the beef brisket from Hill Country, NYC. Tender, juicy and perfect with an cold beer.

There were a few BBQ vendors that ran out of food but there were plenty others still cranking out the ribs. Once you got your fill you could run over to the merchandise booths and get t-shirts or BBQ sauces from all the pit masters at the event.

By now I was pretty full, sweaty and exhausted. I made sure I wore comfortable shoes but didn’t matter when you’re on your feet for 6 hours or more. Madison Square Park also doesn’t provide much seating and with the thousands of people at this event there was no chance we were getting one BUT as luck would have it, we just so happen to be standing next to a couple leaving…whew *JOY*. Now for my ice cold brew…boy were my dogs barking!

So the people watching ensued and finally got a chance to look up and enjoy the great architecture of NYC.

…and look down as well. I was on a mission when I arrived and ribs were the only thing on my mind. Now off to smell the roses…

Spicy Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich made with Slowcooker Pork Roast

This is another dish I made with the pernil (pork roast) I made the other day. The thing about making roasts is either you better have several people around to help eat it all or be prepared to have it for days. I ate it for about 3 days straight then I froze some and gave some away. I still have some in the freezer for a pozole that I want to make. A couple of days ago I showed you the spicy pork tacos I made and here is the spicy pulled pork BBQ hero. I was so excited I forgot to take a nice picture for you so here it is after I bit into it! Newbie blogger mistake but you get the picture, right?

Once you make the roast, everything else is so easy. I basically took a fork to a nice chunk of meat and shredded it. I added my favorite BBQ sauce, Brothers Gold BBQ sauce, added a little extra hot sauce and that was it! This would make a great weekday dinner with a side salad, actually, it would be great anytime!

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
Pork Roast, pulled apart
Brothers Gold BBQ sauce
2 tsp Cholula hot sauce

Mix pork, BBQ sauce, hot sauce and pile on a crusty roll, done.

My Evening at the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival

I attended the the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival this past weekend in NYC and what a booze fest it was! I see why they list each in that order because there was much beer and bourbon to be had and just a few BBQ stations. Had loads of fun sampling and even though it wasn’t a spicy food event there were some spicy finds in the mix. Here are a few photos from the event…

This fest is touring the US so check their 2012 calendar and plan to get there early since sessions fill quickly. By the time I got there the food lines were snaking through the venue and the wait was  anywhere from half hour to over an hour. There will be plenty of beer and spirits pouring throughout the night with very short lines so get your food first and try not to get too distracted by that or any of the other yummy goodies like beef jerky and hot sauces! I tried Torchbearers Sauces The Rapture 2.0 sauce made with the Butch Scorpion pepper, now the hottest in the world, and let me tell you, this is one angry, explosive pepper! But I must say, the flavor was actually pretty good, once the coughing stopped. Another gem was Oregon Trail Red Hot Chili beef jerky shown below. Not sure if they’ll be there for the other scheduled festivals but others to try are the sweet habanero and teriyaki beef jerky.

I accidentally snapped that photo below left and couldn’t stop laughing when I saw what was peeking behind the random dude. Hilarious! Oh, and that’s me below trying to eat around the slab of fat I was served, sorry but  I don’t do chunks of fat! Ever since belly fat became this delicacy a few years ago everyone thinks they can serve a plate of it…just meat please, thank you.

So all in all it was good times. How can you not enjoy tasty foods, good friends and unlimited pours of beer? There were other master distillers on hand for tasting seminars as well as butchering demos but was stuck in lines most of the time…good thing there were beer booths set up along the way! Next time I’ll follow my early arrival, food first strategy.

Oh, and special Thanks to the folks over at Time Out NY for offering this awesome tickets package giveaway that I was lucky enough to win!! I never win anything! I think my luck is turning, 2012 is going to be a great year!