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Ngam's Thai Burger


Ngam's Thai Burger

Here's a burger inspired by a Chiang Mai sausage dish from my hometown. The burger has a proprietary beef-blend patty mixed with homemade "Sai Oor" curry paste and topped with homemade cilantro-lime mayonnaise and green papaya kraut.

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*Note: Instead of making the mayonnaise base yourself, you can use 1 cup of store-bought mayonnaise in place of the egg yolks and oil.


For the cilantro-lime mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Cup canola oil*
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Teaspoon ground black pepper

For the papaya kraut

  • 1/2 Cup tamarind concentrate
  • 1/2 Cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 Cup palm sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup shredded green papaya

For the burgers

  • 9 dried Thai red chiles, seeded
  • 1 Tablespoon black soy sauce, such as Dragonfly
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai fish sauce, such as Tiparos
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon kaffir lime leaves
  • 1/4 Cup sliced lemongrass
  • 1/4 Cup garlic
  • 1/4 Cup roughly chopped shallots
  • 2 Teaspoons peeled and chopped turmeric root
  • 3 Pounds ground beef
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for the grill or skillet
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced


For the cilantro-lime mayonnaise

Add the yolks to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat the eggs on the highest setting until they turn a light yellow color, about 2 minutes.

While the mixer is running, slowly add the oil, about ½ teaspoon at a time. Be careful to not add too much oil too quickly because the oil and egg will separate, giving it the appearance of scrambled eggs.

Once the mayonnaise looks fluffy and glossy, remove from the mixer and fold in the rest of the ingredients.

For the papaya kraut

Stir together the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a pot over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Take the pot off the heat and let cool in an ice bath for about 5 minutes. Once the liquid is at room temperature, add the shredded papaya and mix together.

For the burgers

Soak the dried Thai red chiles in water until softened, about 10 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and turmeric root. Pulse until it forms into a paste, about 3 minutes.

Combine the paste with the ground beef in a large bowl and knead together until well incorporated, but do not overwork the meat. Divide the mixture into 12 balls and flatten into patties with the heel of your hand. Place the patties in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Once ready to grill, remove the patties from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to ensure even cooking later. Preheat a gas grill or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the cooking surface with oil. Place the burger patties on the grill, or oiled skillet, and cover with a lid to keep the meat moist.

Once the burger is done to your liking, grill the buns and assemble with the tomato, cilantro-lime mayonnaise, and papaya kraut.