asian grilled pork patties & enormous changes

I came across Grace Paley’s collection of short stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, the other night as I sorted and packed a decade’s worth of books into cardboard boxes.  A book I haven’t set eyes on in years, the title struck me as somewhat prophetic and fitting for my life these days.  This summer I am embarking on an exciting, if slightly terrifying, cross-country move, and while I have known for some time now, the world seems to have slipped into that strange fast-forward motion it moves in from time to time, where months become days and days become heartbeats.

Enormous changes.  This is the excuse I offer for my recent absence here at Simmer, and stressful as this month has been, I am being careful to appreciate my last few days in Boston and all the people who have come into my life since I first moved here in 1999.  13 years and a new century later, and I am ready for change.  Or at least I think I am.

Speaking of appreciation, I have been soaking up the last few nights puttering around what is surely the biggest kitchen I will ever call home and eating dinners in the back yard.  Last night, I revisited a recipe that’s been with me almost as long as Boston has – it’s evolved over the years, and if memory serves me, was originally inspired by an old colleague at Clear Flour.

I struggled with what to call these – “pork patties” doesn’t have the tasty resonance I’m after.  The flavors here remind me of the filling for a dim sum dumpling, but somehow grilled dumping seems misleading.  When I first made this dish – topped with lime and fresh herbs – I had named them Vietnamese Pork Patties; but wiser now, I see the soy and ginger here make that namesake false.

No matter, the recipe here is a old favorite – sweet, salty, charred and succulent, a perfect summer meal with rice and salad.  The patties here can also be portioned smaller and served tucked inside lettuce leafs as an appetizer.  Makes roughly 12 patties and serves 4.

Happy Summer Everyone.

One Year Ago: Not Without Salt’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Two Years Ago: Leaf Lettuce with Warm Bacon-Maple Vinaigrette and Toasted Hazelnuts.

Asian Grilled Pork Patties


  • 1 lb good quality ground pork
  • ½ tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large scallion (or 2 small), washed and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot (or 2 small), peeled and shredded
  • 2 tbsp cilantro or mint (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 ½ tsp siracha
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

To Serve

  • Steamed rice or cooked rice noodles
  • Salad plate – lettuce, cucumber, carrots, fresh herbs

Make the patties by combining all ingredients in a large mixing bowl – I use my hands to incorporated the seasoning into the pork.  Form into small patties – roughly ¼ each and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Preheat your grill (or use a caste iron pan) to medium-high.  While the grill is heating, make the dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.

Cook the patties 2-4 minutes per side until nicely charred and firm to the touch.  Cut into one to test for doneness if you are unsure.  Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles, salad, and dressing spooned over.

  1. Hmmm… try it the chef’s way? Mix in some bread crumbs and an egg white… even cnorstarch helps. Normal bread crumbs, not the crunchy variety. Not sure why but it seems inevitable that either of these ingredients go into a burger when i see chefs make them. Unless you already have tried then… hahaha… i too, shall wonder why in the world would they not be firm.

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