Meet my favourite burger ever.
Say hello to that warm, crispy edged, fluffy brioche bun. Enriched with just a hint of butter and egg, and much lighter than a true brioche, its slight sweetness and tender crumb are the ultimate counterpoint to the sharp sweet-sour contrast of the thai green mango & papaya salad. The classic lime, fish sauce and chilli dressing is bright and fresh, supplemented with liberal handfuls of thai basil and coriander, peanuts for crunch. An aioli-sriracha sauce delivers a creamy heat, and chunks of flaking grilled fish finish it off.
You have to try it.
I can sell it some more, if you want. It is healthy – unusual in the world of burgers – packed with fresh fish and without the cheese, processed meat and fats of takeaways. It is fast – you can make the slaw as far ahead as the day before, the fish takes a max of 5-10 minutes to cook, and you can make the buns ahead too (or buy them, even). The sriracha aioli is literally a mix of sriracha and aioli. It is like the best thai/vietnamese salad encased in soft, warm brioche bun and in finger food form.
My efforts to cut down on phone usage and reliance have been proved wrong, unfortunately. Though I still remain convinced that peering at a swiftly scrolling instagram or facebook feed multiple times a day isn’t conducive to efficiency and productivity, I will no longer drive somewhere without my phone.
Last week I went to a gym class only a few kilometres away, phone-less – it was almost flat, so I left it to charge. Notifications and emails could wait, right? After the class, I got in the car to go home, and had the immediate sense that sometime wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The harsh bumping sensation and slight tilt of the dashboard as I tried to pull out quickly answered the question – it was a flat tyre. Absolutely pancake flat, in fact.
Now, I don’t know much about cars. I know it is apparently a life skill, but I have never seen a tyre changed in my life. The next realisation was that lacking my phone, I couldn’t contact anybody. At all. I managed to get back to the gym and call the roadside service, but they were at least another hour away. In the meantime, I was meant to be meeting a friend to go to uni, my lectures started in 45 minutes, and my phone sat helplessly on my desk, utterly useless to me and buzzing frequently with missed calls and texts from my housemates. I realised I didn’t even know their phone numbers or emails – they were all stored on my phone too. Being so completely stuck is not a familiar feeling!
It reminded me of how we are constantly connected to each other and the world in a way that no other generation has been before. I just can’t imagine going to look up a question in the encyclopedia, or not being able to get instantaneous directions to wherever I’m going. Being phoneless or wifi-less almost inspires a vague sense of panic, the disorientating sensation that something is not quite right whenever that device is not in the near vicinity. It is by most of our sides 24/7, scrolled through before bed and on waking up, and picked up at any moment of slight boredom or procrastination. I know I’m not the only one – in a Time Magazine survey of 5000 people, 84% said they could not go a single day without their cellphones.
In the meantime, use your phones to get the recipe for these Thai fish burgers with green mango & papaya slaw. They’re worth it.
- The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead, and should ideally be made at least 4 hours ahead of time to allow the flavours to combine. Just whiz up the dressing, julienne the mango & papaya, toss it together and store covered in the fridge.
- The brioche buns are worth a try and not hard (but if you are short on time, feel free to buy some!). Any extras can easily be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for another burger night. Make them when you have an afternoon at home – the timetable is:
- Make dough, knead (15 min)
- Rest for 1-2 hours in bowl
- Divide, shape into balls (10 minutes)
- Rest for 1 hour
- Bake 15-20 minutes.
- 2 small shallots, peeled and chopped (50g)
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 50g palm sugar, coarsely grated
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 medium green papaya, peeled & julienned (yields about 400-450g) - try to source proper green papaya here from an asian market - if it is orange/red and ripe in the centre it won’t work as well)
- 1-2 green mangos (or as unripe as you can find), peeled and julienned (about 300-400g yield).
- 35g thai basil leaves, torn (about 2 big handfuls, or a bunch)
- 30g coriander, roughly chopped (half a bunch)
- 50g peanuts, roasted and chopped
- 6 brioche burger buns (recipe below)
- ¼ cup aioli
- ~2 tbsp sriracha sauce, to taste
- 6 fish fillets, approx 100-150g per person (sea bream (tarakihi) and gurnard work well)
- olive oil to cook, salt and pepper
- In a small food processor or blender, blitz the shallots, chilli, vinegar, lime juice, palm sugar and fish sauce to form a smooth dressing.
- Julienne the mango and papaya nad put in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- Just before serving, add the thai basil, coriander and peanuts.
- To make the sriracha mayo, combine the aioli and hot sauce in a small bowl.
- To cook the fish, heat a frying pan on high with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the fish and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook time will depend on the thickness of your fillets, (mine were roughly 2min per side) but err on the side of caution - the fish should be just starting to flake.
- Toast the brioche buns.
- Serve up the brioche buns with srircha aioli, green mango & papaya salad and grilled fish.
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 cups bread/high grade flour
- ⅓ cup all purpose/ plain flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- extra tablespoon of milk for the wash at the end
- In a small bowl, combine the warm water, milk, yeast and sugar.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if kneading by hand), combine the flours & salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the butter is the size of crumbs.
- Attach the dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and egg.
- Run the mixer of medium for 5-8 minutes, until a soft, smooth, supple dough forms. (if kneading by hand, knead for 8-10 minutes)
- Remove the dough from the bowl. Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover bowl with a clean, damp tea towel and let rise until it has doubled in size (1-2 hours, depending on room temperature - it took 1.5 hrs for me in a 20°C room).
- Line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip out the dough onto a chopping board, and divide with a knife or kitchen scissors into 6 even pieces. (you could also make 8 smaller burgers if desired)
- To shape into balls, gently tuck the edges of the dough underneath it. Using a flour-free space on your board, cover the ball with your hand (seam side down), and gently roll in a circular motion into a tight ball (with a floured surface the dough will simply slip around, rather than lightly sticking to form a ball)
- Transfer to the baking tray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour, or until puffy and slightly risen.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Gently brush each bun with milk (to ensure a shiny surface on your finished buns).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before serving.