Lamb was used in the original recipe for these burgers with ginger and five-spice powder. I can get lamb chops and stewing lamb and even a whole lamb leg in these parts but not ground or minced lamb. So, I had to settle for ground beef. Rib eye. If you have access to ground lamb, I suggest you go for it and and let us know how it turns out.
What is five-spice powder? It is a powdered mixture made with five different spices, as the name suggests. But what spices are combined is not always the same. They can be the bark of the cassia tree, cassia buds, star anise or anise seeds, ginger and cloves. Or, they can be Sichuan pepper, star anise (or anise seeds), cassia bark, cloves, and fennel seeds. Some even contain cinnamon bark instead of cassia bark. You can make your own or you can buy the convenient packets sold in most supermarkets and Oriental food shops.
These burgers with ginger and five-spice powder are served with a special aioli and, in lieu of the usual onion and pickle slices, with cucumber and pepper relish.
Burgers with ginger and five spice powder
- 1 kilogram ground beef
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1 tablespoon five spice powder
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons salt (less if you like your burger bland — we don’t!)
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
For the cucumber and pepper relish:
For the aioli:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- juice of half a lemon (more, if you like)
- 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
- Place the ground beef in a bowl.
- Peel the onion, garlic and ginger. Chop the onion. Finely grate the garlic and ginger.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the ground beef.
- Next, add the salt, pepper and five spice powder. Add the egg.
- Mix everything thoroughly. By hand is best so you can feel if the texture is uniform.
- Form into 6 to 8 patties. Separate each with a piece of wax (baking) paper and keep in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop and infuse.
- Meanwhile, make cucumber and pepper relish.
- Finely slice the finger chili, chop the bell pepper and onion.
- Cut the cucumber in half vertically, then each half into quarters. Cut off the seeds because that’s the part that contains a lot of water and you don’t want the relish to turn soupy. Cut the cucumber strips into small cubes.
- Heat the cooking oil. Add the coriander seeds and onion and cook gently, over medium heat, until the onion pieces are translucent.
- Add the finger chili and bell pepper. Cook for a minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cucumbers. Cook, uncovered, for about five minutes.
- Season with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and sugar. Stir. Add the mint leaves. Stir. Turn off the heat and cool.
- Grill, broil or pan fry your burgers. And don’t forget to toast the burger buns too.
- While the burgers cook, prepare the aioli. Aioli is really flavored mayo although some cooks like to categorize it as a distinct garlic emulsion. Probably because aioli always includes garlic among the ingredients and classic aioli is made without egg yolks. You can prepare the emulsion called aioli the traditional way or you can use mayo like I did.
- Place the mayo in a bowl, add the five spice powder and lemon juice.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Spread some aioli on the bottom half of the bun.
- Top with slices of tomatoes.
- Arrange the burger on top of the tomatoes. Garnish the burgers with ginger and five spice powder with cucumber and pepper relish. Serve at once.