Sometime last summer, I learned about the chori burger at the Filipino gastropub Jeepney in New York.
While I was intrigued by the idea, I don’t get to New York much, so my prospects of trying the real chori burger were slim. Late last summer, I decided to do some experimenting. I headed to the Filipino market in Quincy and bought some longanisa and banana catsup, and then I made my own. They were pretty good. My very fit Filipino friend FJ had a similar idea, and was pleased with his results, which included fried plantains and adobo aioli. We thought that if we combined efforts that we’d end up with something pretty special.
After months of talking about it, we finally got together last week, and they were the best chori burgers we’ve ever made. They may have been the best burger I’ve ever made.
In my opinion, there were a few keys to our success:
– A burger press. Last time, I made the patties by hand, but this time FJ brought over a handy patty maker, which made prep easier, and ensured the burgers were equal in size. I’m not usually into kitchen gadgets, but this was a good one.
– Banana catsup. Never heard of it? You must not be Filipino. American forces introduced the hamburger to the islands during World War II. However, catsup was unheard of and tomatoes were scarce. Bananas, however, were everywhere, and some enterprising folks figured out how to make catsup out of them. The resulting sauce is dyed red to resemble real catsup, but banana catsup is a bit sweeter than the traditional stuff. If you can’t find it, or all the weird colorings in it turn you off, there’s a recipe here. Regular catsup would also do in a pinch.
– Adobo aioli. I found a small bottle of adobo seasoning in the “ethnic food” aisle of my local market. Mix two tablespoons into about 3/4 of a cup of mayonnaise and you’re good to go.
banana catsup in action
(photo credit: Danielle)
I’ve said before that every time I cook Filipino food I wonder why I don’t do it more often. This time was no exception. Filipino food is famous for combining salty, sweet and savory flavors, and these burgers are no exception. The longanisa is fatty enough to keep the burger moist, despite the use of lean beef. The condiments add a nice umami, and the plantains bring a nice crunchy starch… though if I were doing this again I’d get plantains a few days in advance and let them ripen so they’re sweeter.
I’m not entirely sure why this is called a chori burger, as it’s made with longanisa. Some places in the Philippines offer a chori burger made with grilled chorizo (a different, slightly spicier pork sausage), and then also have a “lonnga burger.” So, technically, I guess this is a lonnga burger… whatever you call it, it’s delicious.
Below is a basic guide to making your own chori (lonnga) burgers. Give it a try- you won’t be sorry.
makes 6 burgers
For the burgers:
1 lb Filipino longanisa sausage
1/4 c white vinegar
1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
Remove longanisa from casings and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add vinegar and stir well.
Make 2.5 ounce meatball (a bit smaller than a golf ball) out of the beef and press into a patty (either with your hands or a burger press). Do the same with 2.5 ounces of longanisa. Combine the patties into one burger and set onto a plate. When all patties are made, start grilling. Set burgers on grill beef side down. Cook over medium-high (direct) heat, four to five minutes per side. Since the longanisa is made with pork you do not want to cook these rare, or even medium rare. Serve immediately, preferable on a toasted potato bun.
Top with banana catsup, adobo aioli, fried plantains, and butter lettuce.