Charles Phan, the chef and owner of San Francisco's The Slanted Door, models his pork burgers topped with pickled carrots and cilantro on the classic French-Vietnamese sandwich called banh mi.All-Time Favorite Burgers
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Thai chiles or 1 large jalapeño, minced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons rice wine or dry white wine
One 16-ounce can plain tomato sauce
3 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 cup minced onion
4 large canned water chestnuts, minced
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus 12 large sprigs
1 tablespoon Korean-style kimchi (see Note)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Six 6-inch French bread rolls or pieces of baguette
Quick Pickled Carrots
Hot sauce, for serving
How to Make It
Soak six 10-inch bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, chiles and shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice wine and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce.
In a large bowl, gently mix the ground pork with the onion, water chestnuts, cornstarch, chopped cilantro, kimchi, soy sauce, pepper, sesame oil, beaten egg mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 2 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Using moistened hands, roll the mixture into 30 meatballs. Thread the meatballs onto the skewers and refrigerate until chilled.
Light a grill. Lightly brush the meatballs with vegetable oil and grill over a hot fire until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.