Saturday, February 2, 2013

Asian Shrimp Burgers with Spicy "Kim Chee" Slaw on Steamed Bao Buns

I have been dreaming of making this recipe for a very long time and when I finally got around to making it I was really excited.  I love shrimp burgers, especially when they are seasoned with Asian spices.  YUM.

I serve these on a steamed Asian bun that is a lot like the pork bbq-stuffed bao buns you often see on the dim sum cart. In fact the dough for these buns is exactly the one I use to make bao dumplings and it is largely based on a recipe from the late great Barbara Tropp (chef/owner of the famed and greatly missed China Moon Cafe on Post Street in San Francisco).  They are ethereally light and chewy and fragrant with sesame oil.  In fact the shrimp burger on these buns tastes a lot like a good shrimp bao!

Steaming the buns is really easy if you invest in a two-tiered chinese bamboo steamer which you can pick up at any Asian market for about $20.

And then just to mix things up a bit, I thought I would create a quick and easy cole slaw with all the flavors of  Kim Chee. I used a recipe from Tyler Florence and the result was perfect for these sandwiches!  If you aren't familiar with kim chee, it is spicy fermented cabbage, not unlike sauerkraut, but much tastier.  Kim chee is the national dish of Korea and is made with raw oysters and korean chili paste.  It can take weeks to months to prepare as it slowly ferments in the back of your refrigerator.  Clearly I didn't have time for that, but this is a close approximation to kim chee and works perfectly on this sandwich.  It is spicy and tangy and slightly crunchy and delicious.

If you are making this for dinner, its best to start the "kim chee" slaw first thing in the morning (or even the night before) since it needs time to ripen.  While the cabbage is sweating in the kosher salt, make the buns.  Make the shrimp burgers last because they are the quickest to prepare and should be served hot.

Asian Shrimp Burgers with Spicy "Kim Chee" Slaw on Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12

Shrimp Burgers
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
3 green onions
1 egg white
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup basil leaves (preferably Thai basil)
1/2 tsp salt
2 lbs shelled and deveined uncooked shrimp
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 red bell pepper finely diced

Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha chili paste
Steamed Bao Buns
"Kim Chee" slaw

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade combine garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, green onions, egg white, sugar, say sauce, sesame oil, basil leaves and salt.  Process until very smooth.

Add shrimp and pulse 3-4 times until shrimp is coarsely chopped.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in panko and red pepper until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to use. Mixture will be somewhat loose.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Using a round cookie cutter or a tuna can with both ends removed, form 1/2-inch thick shrimp patties in the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes before flipping.  Patties are finished when they are firm to the touch and lightly browned.

Shrimp burgers are done when opaque and firm and lightly browned.

Slice a Bao bun in half with a serrated knife. Spread the bottom of the bun with Hoisin sauce.  Place a shrimp patty on top of the Hoisin, and top with "kim chee" slaw.  Serve immediately with extra Sriracha.

YUM.  Very light and fresh and decidedly Asian Shrimp Burgers!

"Kim Chee" slaw
makes about 4 cups

1 large head Napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1-inch hunk of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Sriracha chili paste
2 green onions thinly sliced

Cut the Nappa cabbage in half lengthwise and remove the tough base and any really thick leaf stalks.  Cut the cabbage into 1/2'-inch thick strips.  Place in a large colander and add /2 cup kosher salt and toss.  Allow to sweat in the sink for about 2 hours.

Rinse the cabbage in 2-3 washes of cold water to remove the salt.  Dry gently on a kitchen towel.  In a large bowl combine garlic, ginger, vinegar sugar and Sriracha. Add the cabbage and mix well.  Pack the cabbage tightly into a plastic container with a lid.  Refrigerate 3 hours before serving.

Spicy and tangy "kim chee" slaw!

Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 package dried instant yeast
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 1/2 cups flour (20 oz.)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp water

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm water, sugar and salt; stir to dissolve.  Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for 15 minutes until foamy.

Add sesame oil and flour and mix with the dough hook attachment until a smooth, but sticky dough forms (about 7 minutes).

Transfer dough to a bowl that has been oiled with sesame oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft free warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  With your fist punch down the dough until it is very flat.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk again (about 1 hour).

Punch dough down a second time.  In a small bowl, combine 2 tsp water and 2 tsp baking powder.  Add to bread dough and mix in with your hands.  Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and form each piece into a smooth round ball.  Place balls of dough on individual pieces of wax paper.  Cover with a dry clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Place dough balls on wax paper squares and let rise 30 minutes

Place buns in a bamboo steamer over a skillet of boiling water and steam for 14 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.

Bao buns arranged in the steamer and ready to steam for 14 minutes 

Steaming away over a skillet of boiling water... 

Ta Da!  Freshly steamed piping hot Bao Buns!

Alternatively, the buns can be steamed and cooled completely, then stored for a day in an airtight container.  Simply re-steam for 3-5 minutes to refresh!

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