Hello, this is Joe from Measureandstir.com, doing a guest post for Johan.
I recently made a special dinner for one of my friends visiting from out of town, and for the first course I served a slider based on my favorite Szechuan dish, eggplant with ground pork.
Since I was already making a significant departure from the format of this dish, I also took a lot of liberties with the individual elements. Normally, I like to deep-fry the eggplant, cook the ground pork, and then toss them in a sauce made of Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilies, and corn starch. To that, I add sliced red bell peppers. It’s not exactly authentic, but part of the joy of cooking is to take your own liberties.
When I imagined this dish as a slider, I departed once again; I envisioned a ground pork patty, topped with slices of fried eggplant, sautéed bell pepper, and spicy mayo infused with Szechuan flavors, sitting on a mini brioche.
Let’s start with a confession: I bought the brioche from a local bakery.
For the mayo, I started with Szechuan chili oil, which is easy to make.
240 ml vegetable oil
15g Szechuan Peppercorns
20g chili flakes (I used Korean gochugaru)
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise
Simmer the spices (except the chili flakes) in the oil for half an hour, and then strain the oil over the chili flakes. Allow the oil to rest overnight.
After making chili oil, I incorporated it into a mayonnaise.
2 Egg Yolks
10 ml Lemon Juice
pinch of Salt
1g Mustard Powder
Using a hand blender, slowly integrate the chili oil into the egg yolks. Once the oil is emulsified, thin the mixture with shaoxing wine until it reaches your desired viscosity. I added about 25ml to mine.
For the pork patty, I used a boneless pork shoulder, which I ground in my food processor. It is easy to grind meat in a food processor: cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and place it in the freezer for twenty minutes to get nice and firm. You can also freeze the blades and bowl of your food processor if you wish. It’s not very precise, but the colder your meat and apparatus, the coarser your grind will be. For pork, especially a stringy cut like pork shoulder, you want a grind of middling coarseness, so I only froze mine for a short time.
With beef burgers, I am a purist, and I do not like to add any other ingredients to the patty. With pork, medium rare is not an option, so I like to integrate a few extra flavors. In this case, I wanted to make sure that every element of the dish followed its theme, so I fold in a few teaspoons of XO sauce and a few cloves of minced garlic. The subtle fishiness and pungent umami flavors of XO sauce complimented the chili mayo beautifully.
For the veggies, I sliced a chinese eggplant into small disks and deep fried them for two minutes at 200C. I sliced a red bell pepper into battons and seared them in a pan until the edges blackened but the flesh was still firm. This could be done with a blowtorch.
I cooked the patty using a “smashed” style, by rolling it into a ball, placing it on a hot cast iron pan, and then smashing it with a metal spatula, exactly once, just as it was starting to heat up. The goal, as with any smashed patty, is to maximize browned surface area.
Once the patty was cooked, I let the brioche halves toast in the pan with the rendered fat from the pork patty.
To assemble the slider, I layered chili mayo on the bottom bun, followed by the patty, then the eggplant, then the bell pepper, then another small dollop of mayo, followed by thinly-sliced green onions.
See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!