Saigon Bistro Burger Extraordinaire

FH Browne


This is a tribute to Bahn Mi sandwiches I enjoyed on a visit to Saigon while working on a book about Asian cuisine. The chef let me watch her make it, and while I've changed a few things, this is pretty much what I had there. The Hawaiian sweet bun is my own idea. This takes a while to put all the steps together, but is well worth the time and effort. In case you don't want to shell out big bucks for the foie gras you can buy a pork loaf (sort of like a poor man's paté) at most Asian grocery stores which works perfectly well.

pinch tips: How to Freeze Fish, Meat & Poultry





1 Hr


20 Min





3/4 lb
freshly ground beef
1 lb
freshly ground pork shoulder
1/4 lb
finely minced raw shrimp
4 slice
(1/4-inch thick) foie gras


2 c
nuoc mam (fish sauce)
1 1/4 c
brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 c
+ 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, separated
1 tsp
pureed fresh ginger
3 tsp
garlic cloves, pureed
1 tsp
1/2 c
thai yellow curry paste
2 stalk(s)
lemongrass, finely julienned
1 medium
shallot, finely minced
3 sprig(s)
fresh mint leaves, chopped, no stems
3 sprig(s)
fresh basil leaves, chopped, no stems


1/3 c
white sugar
2 Tbsp
nuoc mam
2 Tbsp
very hot water
1 c
mayonnaise (prefer olive oil base)
1 1/2 Tbsp
mild curry powder
1/2 tsp
pureed ginger root
1 tsp
asian hot sauce, prefer sriracha
3/4 tsp


1 c
white sugar
1/4 c
boiling water
1 c
nuoc mam
1/2 c
rice wine vinegar
2 tsp
pureed garlic
thai red chile (optional)


hawaiian sweet hamburger buns
lettuce leaves
1/3 c
finely julienned or very thinly sliced carrots
1/3 c
finely julienned or very thinly sliced daikon
1/8 c
fresh cilantro (or italian parsley) leaves

Directions Step-By-Step

For the BURGERS: In a medium bowl, combine the pork, beef and shrimp. Mix with your hands gently (don’t handle too much) and form into four 8-ounce burger patties, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Let foie gras come to room temperature, cover and set aside.
For the BASTE: In a large bowl, whisk the fish sauce, hot water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lime juice, ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry paste, and whisk to break up paste. Then add the lemongrass, shallots, mint and basil and mix well.
For the Vietnamese MAYO: Combine the sugar, nuoc mam, hot water, and lime juice and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Then add the mayo, curry powder, ginger, Sriracha and turmeric and whisk until smooth. Set aside and chill
For the DIPPING SAUCE: In a mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and hot water until dissolved. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, garlic and chile and mix well. Set aside and keep room temperature.
Preheat a grill to 300˚F to 350˚F (medium to medium-high heat) for direct and indirect heating.
Generously brush both sides of the burgers with the marinade, then grill to desired doneness (suggest medium rare). During the grilling process, brush the burgers several times on each side with the marinade so that the sugar helps form a nice crust on the burgers. Grill about 2 minutes over the heated side of the grill, 3-4 minutes on the unheated side.
Brush the foie gras slices with the marinade, then grill about 1 minute per side over direct heat. While slices are cooking lightly butter and toast the Hawaiian buns, buttered side down.
Place a burger on the bottom of each bun followed by a slice of the foie gras. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the mayo, and then some of the carrots and daikon, and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves. Finish with the lettuce and the top bun. Make all four burgers and serve with the nuoc mam on the side as a dipping sauce.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Beef, Pork, Burgers
Main Ingredient: Pork
Regional Style: Vietnamese
Dietary Needs: Dairy Free, Soy Free
Other Tag: Heirloom