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Shu Mai-Style Burgers

Francesco Tonelli

Servings: 8

There are salmon and tuna burgers, and one could easily call a crab cake a crab burger. But because they lack fat, they make nice burgers but not crunchy-crusted, drip-down-the-chin ones. So why not take a cue from the shu mai dumpling, which mixes shrimp and pork? This gives you uncommon flavor in a burger—not only from the shrimp, but also from the combination of Asian ingredients—with adequate fat.

This recipe is excerpted from The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook. Read our review.


  • 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, with the fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 small fresh chili, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Shredded cabbage and pickled pepper for garnish (optional)


  • Build a medium-high grill fire (gas or charcoal) and set the rack about 4 inches from fire. Put the shrimp and garlic in a food processor and pulse until just chopped; remove to a large bowl. Working in batches, grind the pork fat until just chopped (be careful not to overprocess). Add to the bowl. Then grind the meat until just chopped, again being careful not to overprocess; add to the bowl.
  • Mix the shrimp, pork fat and meat with the soy sauce, scallions, cilantro, chili and ginger; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shape into 8 patties.
  • Grill about 4 minutes, then turn and cook for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through.
  • Garnish with scallions, cilantro, cabbage and pickled pepper, to taste.


May 25, 2010: “The Minimalist: For the Grill, Burgers Beyond the Basic,” by Mark Bittman


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Reviews (1 review)

  • User avater
    Maya_B | 12/28/2017

    This is the awesomest recipe!!! So easy and tasty. Have given it to many friends to try, and it has become a staple. Sometimes getting the texture right is difficult, since it's easy to overprocess. Putting the burgers in the fridge for a bit to "harden" can help them not fall apart on the grill. And I also find that making a spicy herb aioli to go with it is great - it needs a little sauce.

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