A simple pan-baked flatbread stuffed with spiced pork belly, fresh coriander and chilli, Chinese pork burger is tangy, flavourful, moist and extremely comforting.
A humble, tasty street food can be as memorable as a fancy restaurant meal. Since I came to Europe, I miss Chinese street food so much that I have made lots of effort to imitate them in my own kitchen. Chinese pork burger (Rou Jia Mo, 肉夹馍) is among my favourites. I serve it as regular dinner, but it also makes a very popular party dish.
Rou Jia Mo is one of the most well-known street food in China. It originates from the historic city of Xi’an (one of the 6 destinations included in my 2018 Culinary tour of China) but has become very popular throughout China. Its name literally means “meat held by a flatbread” and the meat is usually braised pork belly. When I presented this dish to my non-Chinese friends, they automatically called it Chinese pork burger. Why not? They do resemble western-style hamburgers.
Braise the pork with lots of spices
First of all, let’s talk about the filling for my Chinese pork burger. It’s basically pork belly braised in water with a number of spices and sauces. Don’t be put off by the length of the ingredient list. They are what makes the meat super aromatic and flavoursome. You can find most of them in mainstream supermarkets, and the rest in Chinese/Asian shops. I recommend that you use what I suggest. However, it won’t be a problem if you lack one or two spices to hand.
In terms of cooking the pork, it couldn’t be simpler. Just throw everything in a pot filled with water then leave to simmer. The cooked meat should be very tender and almost melt in your mouth.
Cook the bread in a frying pan
While waiting for the meat to cook, you can prepare the special flatbread (Bai Ji Mo, 白吉馍) used for Chinese pork burger. It’s made of leavened wheat-flour dough and traditionally baked in a clay or mud oven. It’s not as soft as western burger buns and has a rather chewy texture. I love its plain, natural flavour and sometimes enjoy eating it on its own. Chinese home cooks often make this flatbread in an ordinary frying pan (without any oil). It’s super easy and takes only 10 minutes to cook.
Make the filling tangy and moist
Right before assembling the burger, take the meat out of the pot and put it onto a chopping board. Place a generous amount of fresh coriander and chilli alongside. Chop them into small pieces (but not finely minced). The last procedure is crucial: spoon some broth from the pot then pour on the meat. This will add extra flavour to the filling and make it moist.
Unlike western burger buns, the bread for Chinese pork burger is not cut through. You just cut it open from one side to make it a pocket, then spoon in the filling.
Know the principle then be creative
Now you know how to prepare a Chinese pork burger you are free to create your own version. Here are some alternative ideas:
- Use other Chinese braised meat as filling. Red-cooked pork belly is a perfect choice (see how to cook this classic dish here). If you fancy other meat, try my recipe of Chinese spiced beef and potato stew. Skip the vegetables in the recipe and cook the beef a bit longer to a very tender texture.
- Pita bread can be a nice substitute if you don’t have time to cook the flatbread.
- Cook the flatbread half of the regular size (or even smaller if you wish), then assemble the burger as normal. This makes a great dish for finger-food parties.
Hope you like this classic Chinese street food. Discover more mouth-watering recipes by clicking the links below.
Another fantastic way to serve pork belly:
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