RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Maui No Ka ‘Oi Burgers

No Ka ‘Oi is Hawaiian for "beyond comparison" and is the motto for the island of Maui. The name also accurately describes this burger which is all about the local flavors and products of Hawaii. The ginger-infused bacon and succulent glazed shiitakes bring a new dimension to a mushroom bacon burger and the addition of papaya produces a tender and juicy patty that could erupt the burger world! The sauce is a combination of my favorite Hawaiian flavors and of course, no Hawaiian burger would be complete without the crunch of sweet Maui onions. Few people think of Hawaii when it comes to burgers but this local burger will have Americans saying "no ka ‘oi!"

Ingredients 

Lemongrass Rémoulade
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced seeded red Hawaiian chile or jalapeno (or to taste)
1 large clove garlic, minced

Patties
2 pounds ground chuck
1/3 cup minced Maui onion or other sweet onion
1/3 cup minced ripe papaya
2 tablespoons each minced fresh cilantro, mint, and basil
2 teaspoons Asian chile garlic sauce
1 3/4 teaspoons salt

Gingered Bacon
12 slices pre-cooked bacon
3 tablespoons finely minced ginger

Oyster-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms
3 1/2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil (unsalted butter can be substituted)
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian oyster-flavored sauce
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 seeded crusty sandwich or Kaiser rolls, split
4 cups chopped watercress
6 thin slices Maui onion or other sweet onion, separated into rings

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill with a cover, or prepare a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the rémoulade, combine the mayonnaise, lemongrass paste, ginger, red chile or jalapeno, and garlic in a small bowl. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

To make the patties, combine the chuck, onion, papaya, herbs, chile garlic sauce, and salt in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Form into 6 patties to fit the roll size. Refrigerate the patties until ready to grill.

Heat a large, nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the bacon and ginger; cook until the bacon is crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. (Do not wash skillet.)

To make the mushrooms, return the skillet to the grill and add the oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté 4 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the rice vinegar, oyster sauce, and pepper flakes; sauté
2 to 3 minutes longer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook 3 to 4 minutes until browned on the bottom. Turn the patties over and grill until done to preference, about 5 minutes for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls cut sides down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread the rémoulade over the cut sides of the roll tops. Place equal portions of the watercress on each roll bottom and top with a patty, 2 bacon slices, and an equal portion of the mushrooms and onion rings. Add the roll tops and serve.

Comments 

I used lemongrass paste (Lemongrass Herb Blend paste is available at Safeway) since fresh lemongrass is difficult to find in many areas. The paste is delicious and is also a great time-saver but if it’s not available, you can purée fresh lemongrass with 1/4 teaspoon each vegetable oil, sugar, and salt.

Due to papaya’s tenderizing enzyme, do not make the patties more than 2 hours before grilling.

To save time chopping the herbs, place 3/4 cup each cilantro, mint, and basil in a small food processor and chop. Measure 6 tablespoons for the patties.

Some sweet onions can still have a pungent bite. To remove the "bite," soak the onion slices in ice water for 15 to 20 minutes; drain on paper towels.

The sandwich or Kaiser rolls should be soft and fresh with a crisp crust (Vietnamese bakeries tend to make especially good ones). If the roll is too thick, cut a slice out from the center.