August 2, 2010

BBQ (and salt free) Burgers

I love hamburgers. But I hate manning the Bar-B-Q.

Actually – true confession – I hardly know how to turn one on. I’m sure it’s simple, but the whole deal with the gas and the coal and the clean-up afterwards…it’s just too much for me to handle. So for those nights, when no one else offers to man the barbie and I’m craving a succulent bite of summer, I take my meat to the stove.

This recipe for pan-fried burger literally packs sautéed ginger, garlic, and a flurry of fresh herbs directly into the pattie. A topping of tomato, curried ketchup, crème fraiche, and caramelized onions finish off the bite.

For a salt-free bun, I use sturdy pieces of cabbage. They hold up well to the moisture of the meat the sauce and – true confession number two – they were wilting in my fridge. This hurry-curry burger is a great dish for one, two, or ten and can be easily cooked to order. So get your grill…er,sauté pan going and chow on.


serves 4

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chive, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup no salt ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper and cumin (each)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • crème fraiche
  • green cabbage leaves
  • 4 or more slices of tomato, heirloom if you can find it


1. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and ginger and be sure to stir so that they don’t burn. Cook for 5 minutes or until the garlic takes on a nice shade of golden-brown. Take off heat.

2. Place your hamburger meat in the mixing bowl, and add the pepper, cumin, herbs, ginger, and garlic. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. If it seems as if the burger will not hold a pattie shape, you can also add one egg to the mixture.

3. Heat the second tablespoon of oil in the pan and when hot, add your patties (make sure the pan is big enough that they aren’t crowded). Cook 5-10 minutes on each side.

4. While the burgers get a nice sear, mix your ketchup and curry together in a separate bowl.

5. Once your patties have cooked on both sides, take them off the pan to rest. Add your onions to the pan, in the meat juices, and allow them to cook and caramelize for approximately 5 minutes.

6. To plate, place patties in cabbage. Layer the accoutrements as follows: tomato, ketchup, crème fraiche, and onions. Dig in and let the curried juices flow!

waiwa August 2, 2010 at 9:57 am

neat! do you prefer outdoor grill or saute pan for your burgers?

sodium girl August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Great question Waiwa – for a simple, traditional burger, I prefer a grill. The smoke, the coals, the fire…it gives the meat a really nice char-broiled taste that you cannot get on the stove. But for a burger like this one, that is already filled to the brim with flavors, I find that I don’t lose anything by cooking it in a pan. Although, I my gain a lot of time and easier clean-up!

Penelope August 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Gluten free, too! Bonus! 🙂

sodium girl August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

So true!

Jacqueline August 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

My mouth is literally watering, I can’t wait to try this out!!

sodium girl August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Yay! Let me know what you think!

Kelly B August 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

Very psyched about the lettuce bun! It looks like a piece of art!

Brew Merrill May 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Looks really good. Not a big fan of cabbage, I’ll give it a try with bib lettuce…..

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