The Social Burger from The Peached Tortilla Cookbook is a delicious medley of textures and flavors coming together to create an amazing burger experience. A copy of The Peached Tortilla was sent to me by the publishers for the purposes of an honest review. Affiliate links were used to link to items I am discussing.
I bet anyone from my immediate family is rolling to see American cheese on a burger on this blog. Not only do I not really care for American cheese, but I really dislike it on burgers. Like make (beg) my mom drive back to the fast food chain that put it on my burger and fix it kind of hate. Ruin my entire night if we discovered the mistake when we were already home. The funny thing is, having made this burger for Sammy, I gotta admit that it makes for a much better picture. And the original Social Burger calls for it, so….
But not on my burger! I figure even if I was sitting at the Peached Tortilla restaurant down in Austin, Texas I would ask them to leave off the cheese, so as far as I am concerned the processed cheese food is optional!
To back up a bit, the publishers sent me The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food from Tokyo to Texas by Eric Silverstein to review at the beginning of the summer (I warned them I would be traveling for a while). As soon as I saw the book I knew I wanted it. I think Asian American chefs have been creating amazing fusion food (and therefore cookbooks) in America everywhere from Louisville (Edward Lee, Smoke and Pickles) to L.A. (Roy Choi, L.A. Son) and now, with The Peached Tortilla, Austin (and likely more I am unaware of it should be said). Silverstein’s background is a bit more diverse still, as his mom is Chinese American, his dad is Jewish American, and he spent many years in Japan growing up. So he is bringing multiple influences to the table at his restaurant. Needless to say, for an international food junkie like myself, his cookbook is full of dishes I want to try. The writing is also great, as Silverstein includes his stories abut anything to do with his life and food (meaning we get stories of him starting the restaurant but we also get stories of his food influences growing up and his mom’s cooking). I want to make pretty much everything in the noodle chapter.
The first thing I usually look for in these restaurant influenced cookbooks, I must admit, is stuff in my comfort zone, like curries and stews. But Sammy had just declared her vegetarianism and the ease of cooking with a vegetarian burger (for her, definitely not for the rest of us!) was calling to me. (Don’t worry, you will still see meat on The Spiced Life but this was our first meal at home since she stopped eating meat so I had it on my mind.) Also on my mind was an amazing meal that my sister and her husband made for us at the beach, basically burgers, but burgers with gourmet toppings, the kind of toppings I get excited about, like sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. In my old age I have discovered I actually do love burgers, I just don’t love the classic American cheese (American or cheddar), tomato, onion and lettuce burger. So I got pretty excited about recreating The Peached Tortilla’s Social Burger, or as close as I could get it within what I had in my kitchen and the time I had.
Before I get into what I did, what changes I made, let me say we all loved the Social Burger. I honestly was not sure what to expect; you guys will laugh but this burger stretched my boundaries more than a lot of my complex curries. It is described as their take on a Big Mac–which I have never been a fan of. I don’t think I have ever eaten a sweet pickle on a hamburger in my life, and frankly I don’t eat the dill ones on purpose. I knew I would love the caramelized onions no matter how they were made (stay tuned–they are not “regular” caramelized onions!) but the pickles were a stretch and I am a ketchup and mustard gal, not mayo, so the Peached Sauce was also a jump. I love this so much I had it 2 nights in a row and would cheerfully make it again. Sammy (she and I were home alone the first night) agreed. John and Alex just had to be sad they only got it once–and Alex loved it despite only recently learning to like burgers at all.
This is one of those recipes that builds on multiple recipes. I focused the most on the Miso Caramelized Onions, because I was so intrigued by them. I decided not to make the Japanese Sesame Pickles, a fairly basic refrigerator sweet pickle, and instead when I could not find fresh horseradish at the grocery store (and which was called for in the Peached Sauce) I instead grabbed sweet horseradish refrigerator pickles. For the Peached Sauce, as mentioned I left out the horseradish but instead added a little wasabi and I used the “juice” from kimchi instead of actual pureed kimchi because I dislike the cabbage so strongly. In general I think when the flavors all came together they were pretty faithful to the original Social Burger.
Very closely adapted from Eric Silverstein and the Social Burger at The Peached Tortilla but some changes were made for the ease of making in my kitchen. If you are making more than 4 burgers be aware you may need to make more of the condiments below also.
- 1 1/4 lbs ground beef, preferably chuck
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 T butter
- 4 hamburger buns, preferably sturdy ones
- oil for brushing grill pan
- 1/4 cup Peached Sauce (see below)
- 1 cup shredded lettuce (they like Iceberg but I prefer Romaine)
- 4 slices American cheese (optional as far as I am concerned)
- 1/4 cup Miso Caramelized Onions (see below)
- 12-20 slices refrigerator sweet horseradish pickles, thinly sliced (I sliced mine in half because the chips were quite thick)
Make sure the sauces below are prepped and ready.
Form your patties. I suck at this--the original recipe calls for wide and thin burgers but I did not manage it. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large grill pan (or cast iron pan) over medium low heat. Melt the butter and then toast the insides of each of your buns. Set aside.
Brush some oil over the grill pan--I did not bother using separate pans. Grill your burgers to desired doneness; unlike every other form of beef I can think of, I prefer my burgers medium, without any pink.
While the burgers are cooking, spread a little Peached Sauce on the bottom half of each bun. Sprinkle the shredded lettuce over the sauce.
If you are using cheese, when the burgers have been flipped, add the cheese. If your desired doneness does not give you enough time to let the cheese melt, Silverstein recommends adding a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan and covering it for 45 seconds. I did not need to do this.
Place each cooked burger over the lettuce, Top each burger with Miso Caramelized Onions. I liked a lot of pickles on each burger; the original recipe called for 3. So lay 3-5 pickle slices on top of the caramelized onions and then top with the bun. Enjoy!
Closely adapted from Eric Silverstein.
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- salt to taste
- 1 1/4 T white miso
- 1/2 T brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sake, divided (I used a fairly light, slightly sweet drinking sake)
Heat a large and wide skillet (or pot as long as it is wide) over medium-high heat. Add the oil when it is hot.
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add the miso and brown sugar. Stir to evenly incorporate. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown.
Add 1/4 cup of the sake. Stir and reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking for 20 minutes. The onions will start to really caramelize, so stay close and keep stirring to prevent scorching. The onions should become quite brown.
Deglaze the pan with the remaining sake and stir the onions for 5 more minutes. When the wine has cooked off, remove the pan from the heat. If the onions are in danger of scorching, scoop them out of the pan and into a serving dish. Set aside for the burgers.
The onions will keep up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
I did not change too much (see my comments above) but I did make some substitutions based on what I had around and my feelings about fermented cabbage.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used avocado oil based mayo)
- 1/8 t wasabi powder
- 1/2 t juice from kimchi (if you want to use the actual cabbage, puree it first)
- 1/4 t juice (pickling liquid) from store-bought sweet horseradish pickles
- 1 T Thai Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce
Whisk all of the ingredients together. Store in the fridge in a sealed container until ready to use.
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