Bangkok Burgers with Green Curry Eggplant and Papaya-Peanut Salad


Papaya-Peanut Salad:
2 cups diced fresh papaya
1/2 cup chopped salted, dry-roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Green Curry Eggplant:
2 tablespoons green curry paste
6 tablespoons coconut milk
1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds 1/2 inch thick

2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion, including both white and green portion
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, including juices
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 sesame seed buns



• Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium.
• To make the salad, gently combine papaya, peanuts, shallot, basil and cilantro in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix tamarind paste with coconut milk. Gently stir tamarind mixture into papaya salad. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
• To make eggplant, evenly mix green curry paste and coconut milk together in a small bowl. Lay eggplant slices in a non-reactive pan, spread curry sauce on the top side of eggplant slices and set aside.
• To make the patties, spread the chuck and pork out in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle evenly with green onion, basil, cilantro, garlic, ginger and salt. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and, with cupped hands, toss one portion of the meat back and forth, from hand to hand, to form a loose ball. Pat meat portion lightly on a flat surface to form a burger to fit the rolls. Press center of patty down with fingertips to create a slight indentation in the center of the patty. Repeat with remaining meat portions. Refrigerate until ready to grill.
• When the grill is heated to medium, brush the grill with vegetable oil. Place eggplant slices on the grill rack, green curry side up, and cover. Grill the eggplant slices 5 to 7 minutes until charred and turn, spreading other side with remaining curry sauce, cover, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until eggplant slices are tender. Remove from rack, cover with foil and keep warm.
• Scrape the rack clean and prepare a medium-high fire in the charcoal grill, or increase gas grill to medium-high.
• When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
• To assemble the burgers, on each bun bottom, place an eggplant slice, a patty and an equal portion of the Papaya-Peanut Salad. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.