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Esther Choi, the chef-owner of the three Mokbar restaurants and Ms. Yoo cocktail bar in New York, grew up watching her Korean grandmother cook. She incorporates a lot of those lessons into her own dishes, including this deep-fried shrimp burger, which is on the menu at Ms. Yoo. “Shrimp burgers in Asia are such a big thing,” she says. “You go to any fast food restaurant and you always see a shrimp burger on the menu. It’s what I grew up eating.” But, she adds, you don’t really see them in the States, so she decided to change that!
Esther uses both minced and whole shrimp and flavors the mixture with garlic, chilies, fish sauce and sesame oil. She then coats the patties with panko, fries them and serves each one on a brioche bun with kimchi tartar sauce (yes!), butter lettuce, radicchio and sliced tomatoes. Suffice it to say, the burger is amazing. And as Rach says, “It’s just such a fun, easy and fast-cooking food that anybody can do!”
For more of our favorite burgers, check out Rach’s English Muffin Bacon Cheeseburgers and Bifteki (Greek Burger Patties).
For the tartar sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, then refrigerate.
For the patties, heat 3 to 4 inches of oil to 350°F in a medium deep pot.
Make 4 or 5 little incisions across the belly of a shrimp. Flip the shrimp over and, using your fingertips, squeeze the sides while pressing down. You should feel the shrimp slightly “snapping.” Straighten the shrimp as much as possible; you want a very straight shrimp. Repeat with 8 other shrimp, then set aside. Remove the tails of the remaining shrimp and set aside.
In a food processor, process the onions and chilies until evenly chopped. Place the mixture in a piece of cheese cloth, squeeze out the moisture and transfer to a large bowl.
Place the shrimp without the tails in the food processor and process until they are chopped finely enough to hold together, but still a bit chunky. Transfer to the onion mixture, then add the cornstarch, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well and form 3 even patties.
Take 1 patty and split it in half. Take 1 half, flatten it into a round, then lay 3 of the whole shrimp on top as straight as possible with the tails hanging off the side. Set the other half of the patty on top to form 1 large patty with the 3 whole shrimp in the middle. Set on a plate and repeat with the remaining patties and whole shrimp. Refrigerate for at least 3 minutes before battering and frying.
Dredge each patty first in the flour, then in the egg wash, then in the panko. Make sure you pack on plenty of panko. Deep fry the patties in batches until golden brown and the whole shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt while hot.
To assemble, toast the brioche buns, slather the kimchi tartar sauce on both sides, then layer on a shrimp patty, butter lettuce, radicchio and tomatoes. Enjoy right away!