Whilst this reminds me more of kebab than a hamburger it was billed by that name when our paths first crossed and so it's stuck with me. I was in Xi'an at the time and, after dutifully learning the Chinese symbols for the dish and spying them on a window, the gf and I had popped into a tiny little restaurant to have some liang pi, a famous cold speciality of the region consisting of wide flat noodles with shredded cucumber, all dressed in a spicy and sharp vinegar, chilli and sesame paste dressing. Whilst tucking into a lovely rendition of it I noticed that the purely Chinese writing of the place was punctuated by a single handwritten A4 page stuck on the wall, which proclaimed 'Chinese Hamburger 3.5RMB'. Not wanting to miss out on such a thing with the point of a finger I took the 35p gamble and was presented with this most delectable dish.
The bread was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, more similar to a pitta bread than anything else I've had which, given Xi'an's large muslim population, makes perfect sense. Inside though Islam's influence was definitely lost as it was stuffed with pork belly, stewed till meltingly tender then smashed up into the sauce, which was fragrant with the usual Chinese suspects of cinnamon and star anise. It was absolutely gorgeous and I vowed to blog it as soon as I got back. I may have failed miserably on the timing but I got there eventually.
Rou Jia Mo - The Chinese Hamburger
The Bread - Or Mo
200gr plain flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 ts salt
The Meat Filling
325gr pork belly, no skin. The streaky rashers from supermarkets are ideal.
1 TB light soy
1 TB dark soy
1/2 ts sugar (I like the light brown stuff)
3" cassia bark/Chinese cinnamon
1 piece of dried tangerine peel, about half a tangerine's worth
1 star anise
Mix the salt and baking powder into the flour then add the water to make a soft dough. Knead for a couple of minutes to bring together then place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour or so.
Cut the pork into 1cm sticks through the layers (so 1cm x 1cm x thickness of the belly) and place in a saucepan with all the other filling ingredients. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour and a quarter until tender. Whilst cooking add water so it doesn't boil dry but you want the sauce to reduce a lot so don't add too much.
Cut the rested dough into quarters and shape each into a disc 7-8cm diameter and a little under a centimetre thick, do this on a floured work surface as it will be a little sticky. Heat a large frying pan over a low to medium heat and then cook the bread (without oil) for 2.5 to 3 minutes a side, until golden in places and cooked through.
Remove the pork and chop or crush into the sauce.
Split the bread, brush one side with chilli oil, top with a quarter of the pork and a good amount of coriander and tuck in. It's pretty easy to knock down a couple of these per person.