The Green curry chicken burger -- "ultimate fusion" -- from… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)
Our final Battle of the Burgers finalist is Winston Woo of Orange County. Think this is just another chicken burger? You're wrong. With homemade Thai chili paste and a medley of flavors, it's what Woo calls "ultimate fusion." He wrote:
“The Green Curry Chicken Burger (“GCCB”) creation is an inspiration of my travel experiences across the Pacific, combined with the touches of Americana. My GCCB Ultimate Fusion Burger may be more than the ‘best and baddest’ burger -- quite simply, it might be the most memorable Asian-inspired fusion experience ever! Imagine taking a roundtrip to Thailand, and then on the way back, stopping by Hawaii en route back to California. Characteristic to the country of Thailand, green curry has a unique blend of spice-n-flavor that is sure to tingle and arouse the senses. Characteristic to the Hawaiian Islands are combinations of sweet-n-savory and colorful cuisine set in beautiful scenery -- enough to immerse you in that ‘Aloha-Spirit’ that we all love. And of course, characteristic to Southern California, the ultimate collection of worldly cuisines -- amplified! Creating a burger that is different from the norm, with flavors unique to different parts of the world, and when combined still have that American ‘flare’ are elements that not only provide a great culinary experience, but a neat way to showcase the diversity of cultures. Enjoy!”
This year, we received almost 50 submissions from readers and grill-masters across the U.S. and Canada. We asked you to vote for your top 20, and then we got down to testing.
Over 48 hours, we shopped (using a seven-page grocery list), prepped, cooked and grilled our hearts out testing a whole host of burgers (our Test Kitchen went through over 20 pounds of meat alone, including hand-ground steak and salmon).
The results were judged by the Food staff, including editor Russ Parsons, restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, deputy editor Betty Hallock, Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter and Web producer Jenn Harris.
The five finalists and their recipes will be featured in the Saturday section on June 29. In the meantime, we'll be giving a daily shout-out to each on our blog. Congratulations all!
GCCB (Green curry chicken burger) ultimate fusion
2 hours. Serves 2
Green curry paste
6 Thai chilies, minced (remove the seeds and ribs to minimize the heat of the chiles)
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced galangal
1 teaspoon minced kaffir lime rind
1 minced kaffir lime leaf
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/3 coriander root
2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
1. Using a mortar and pestle, combine the Thai and Jalapeno chiles with the salt, pounding until the chiles are reduced to a thick paste-like texture. Add the minced lemongrass, galangal, lime rind and leaf, shallots, coriander root and garlic, pounding well until the texture is smooth and paste-like. Remove the mixture to a small bowl.
2. Using the mortar and pestle, pound the white peppercorns and coriander seeds until powdered, then add the turmeric and cumin powders, pounding until well-mixed.
3. Add back the wet ingredients to the mortar, and pound well to thoroughly combine the wet and dry. Add the shrimp paste, pounding again to form the curry paste. This makes about one-half cup paste. The paste can be made up to 3 days ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until needed.
Caramelized sweet peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
7 to 10 sweet mini-bell peppers, diced into thin strips
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Asian 5-spice powder
1 cup chardonnay wine, divided
In a heavy-bottom saucepan heated over medium heat, combine the olive oil, garlic and soy sauce and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to marry the flavors. Stir in the peppers along with a few grinds of pepper, the 5-spice powder and half of the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine begins to reduce and begins to form a sauce. Add the rest of the wine and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the wine reduces to a sauce-like consistency. Set aside until ready to assemble the burgers. (The peppers can be made up to 3 days ahead and covered and refrigerated until needed; warm before using.)
GCCB ultimate fusion burgers
1 pound ground chicken;
Prepared green curry paste
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Heaping tablespoon brown sugar
2 Kings Hawaiian sandwich buns, or similar hamburger buns
4 slices Swiss cheese
Fresh spinach, stemmed
Caramelized sweet peppers