Lilli's Grilled Banh Mi Burgers

Lilli’s Grilled Bánh Mì Burgers

    Have you had a bánh mì sandwich before? It’s a really delicious type of Vietnamese sub sandwich and the kind I’ve had over and over again included pork or chicken, cilantro, mayo, fresh jalapeño rings and pickled carrots and daikon radish.  Just thinking about them makes me miss Go Deli in Renton, WA, where they make my very favorite banh mì sandwiches! Sadly, I just learned that they’re permanently closed but it’s probably because I haven’t been there since going gluten-free. Since I’ve had to adjust my diet to feel good and enjoy better health, there are favorites like this I’ve missed.
    So, imagine my excitement when we were invited over for dinner and a friend was serving homemade “bánh mì burgers!” She served them with small rolls for the guys, and for us gluten-sensitive girls, she had butter lettuce leaves to wrap the meat and fillings in. When I asked her for the recipe, she said she makes it so frequently, she just makes it from her head. She explained that it’s a few different bánh mì recipes combined and embellished. I followed her Pinterest board and re-pinned some of her saved recipes. As I looked over the different recipes, I took a cue from her and just winged it. The results when I made it at home were incredibly flavorful and juicy. We were VERY happy with what I pulled together and I knew I was on to something. We’ve now had this four times in the last couple of months because it’s so delicious! What’s with the zucchini? It makes the patties very tender and stretches the meat out to yield more burgers!
    I’ve recreated this gluten-free recipe with measurement so I could share it on my blog, but it’s a very forgiving recipe and you don’t have to measure out everything perfectly. I didn’t the first time, and they tasted sensational.
    Any ground meat will do. You could certainly use pork, beef, chicken, turkey or even a combination of ground meats. I am partial to ground turkey breast meat, so that’s what I used. My friend added feta cheese to the patties, but I didn’t. So, here’s the recipe inspired by Lilli!
 Grilled Banh Mi Burgers
Lilli’s Grilled Banh Mì Burgers
Yields: about 9 small patties
Serves: 4-5
1 small zucchini
drizzle of cooking oil [we prefer avocado oil]
1/3 chopped sweet onion
1 tsp crushed garlic or 2 chopped garlic cloves
1 lb. ground meat
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs [gluten-free is what we use, or omit if you’re Paleo]
1/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, coarsly chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
fresh jalapeño, sliced
rice vinegar-pickled cucumbers
rice vinegar-pickled, shredded carrots & daikon
fresh cilantro leaves
burger buns or butter/bibb lettuce leaves
  • Shred the zucchini. You’ll need at least 5 ounces, but if you want to use all of the small zucchini shreds, that’s fine!
  • Let the zucchini shreds rest in a colander while chopping the onion and garlic. Optional: you can generously sprinkle salt on the zucchini shreds in order to coax out the liquid.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat and add oil of your choice. Once the oil glistens, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Next, add the garlic and stir, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • If you salted the zucchini, rinse it off. Then, whether you salted it or not, squeeze it really well and get as much moisture out as possible. Squeeze it with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Drop the limp zucchini shreds into the skillet and turn off the heat. Stir and combine it with the onion and garlic. You only need to keep the zucchini in the skillet for a minute or two to in order to get more of the liquid to evaporate.
  • In a medium bowl, add the raw, ground meat, zucchini mixture from the skillet, Panko bread crumbs, cilantro, salt and pepper. Squeeze the meat mixture to combine. Form your patties and be careful not to make them too thick in the center. You can easily make 5 large patties, but I like to make some small and some medium, like Lilli did. I usually make 9 patties.
  • Place the patties on wax paper and refrigerate for a couple of hours to help them meld and feel less sticky on the grill. I usually make them in the morning to have for dinner, or I make them the day before we grill them.
  • Clean the grill well before cooking and spray the grates with oil spray to prevent any sticking. Cook the burgers on medium heat about 5 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center.
  • Assemble your burgers on lettuce, toasted Franz gluten-free buns or regular burger buns. ENJOY!!
Gluten-Free Banh Mi Burger
Lettuce-Wrapped Banh Mi Burgers
Another Variation of a Lettuce-Wrapped Banh Mi Burgers
Thank you, Lilli, for inspiring this favorite recipe!

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