America's Burgers go fusion and take on the spices of the world

Burgers Go Global on Restaurant Menus

The world's flavors converge on a hamburger bun.
Scott Hume -- Restaurants ; Institutions, January 20, 2010

"Flavors like teriyaki have become so common that they're almost seen as American," says Russ Bendel, president-CEO of The Habit Burger Grill chain in Southern California of the chain's pineapple-topped Teriyaki Burger.

Ray Kroc knew Americans' desire for burgers would endure, but the founder of McDonald's never would have imagined that the iconic all-American food could take on the global guises it often wears now. Burgers' renewed popularity has necessitated that chefs unleash their imaginations and develop ever more ways to combine meat and a bun. Often that means bringing the world's flavors to bear.

"The beauty of burgers is that they're fun. Fun to eat, fun to develop," says Frank Scibelli, who plans to add a Vietnamese-style banh mi pork burger to the menu at his two Big Daddy's Burger Bar locations in Charlotte, N.C. "I had a great banh mi sandwich in San Francisco, so I thought that would be a really great flavor profile to play around with," he says of the inspiration. "Southerners love pork, so they may not know what banh mi is [pork topped with pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro and mayo], but I think they'll try it."

That's already the case at the three BLT Burger locations, where an Asian Banh Mi Burger is a menu staple. Chef-owner Laurent Tourondel's version tops a ground pork and shrimp patty with pickled daikon radish and carrot, herb salad, cucumber and sriracha mayonnaise.

Big Daddy's menu now has a ground turkey and Brie Frenchie burger (suggested by a French-born staff member) and an Italian-style Mama Ricotta's Burger (house-made mozzarella and pesto) that carries the name of Scibelli's Italian restaurant in Charlotte. They sell well, as has a Greek gyros-style burger that Big Daddy's cycles on as a special.

I find that this Verstegen Kruiden mix Shoarma makes a great burger seasoning. A more traditional way of using the spice is to make a Turkish inspired shoarma.  Slice a pound of chicken (or other meat) thinly and toss with 1/4 of the contents on the spice tub.  Cook and place on pita bread on a bed of thinly sliced letture or cabbage.  You can add sliced onions and tomatoes if you choose to do so.  The important thing to have with it is KUHNE TZATZIKI CUCUMBER SAUCE 250ML for a delicious shoarma at home!


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