Inspired by beef momo seasoned with the tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns, these burgers are spiked with a fragrant mixture of that spice, plus cumin, star anise, fennel, chili flakes, and brown sugar. A tangy chili mayo with plenty of fresh ginger and cucumber pickles round it out.
Why It WorksBold Asian flavors add tons of flavor to an otherwise classic American burger.
- Pressing a dimple into each patty prevents it from seizing up into a ball.
- Minimally handling the beef and seasoning it only at the last minute maintains its loose, open texture.
- Turning the patties repeatedly during cooking produces a better edge-to-edge gradient that's rare, medium-rare or medium, depending on your preference.
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, shiny black seeds and stems removed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Thai
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 small star anise pod (see note above)
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon red chili paste, such as Sambal Oelek
- 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (6-ounce) patties
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 English muffins, split and toasted
- Quick Pickled Cucumbers, for topping burgers
- Cilantro leaves and tender stems, for topping burgers
In a medium skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, and anise over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in brown sugar until thoroughly combined.
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chili paste, grated ginger, and rice vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Press a dimple into the top of each burger patty. Season patties generously with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness on a hot grill or in an oiled skillet on the stovetop, 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium; sprinkle all over with spice mixture during last minute of cooking. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Set burger patties on English muffin bottom halves, and top each with chili mayo. Top with pickled cucumbers and cilantro. Close burgers and serve.