Belinda Jeffery

Pork & water chestnut burgers with sesame bok choy

It’s a funny thing but kids seem to love anything that’s shaped into a patty or meatball, and I’m always surprised at the way they will wolf down these burgers (although I must admit it’s a bit more of a struggle with the bok choy!). I recently made the pork mixture into mini-meatballs for a 6 year-old’s birthday party and much to everyone’s amusement it was a battle between the kids and adults as to who could snaffle them first. However, in the guise of burgers, they’re somewhat more suited to dinner, especially when paired with the fresh, mustard-y flavour of bok choy fragrant with sesame, chilli, garlic and ginger – it’s one of my favourite ways to cook Asian greens.


Serves 4

  • 10  baby (also called Shanghai) bok choy, thoroughly washed
  • ¼ cup (60ml) light olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, very finely sliced
  • 1 – 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon very, very fine strips fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • Steamed rice and lime wedges, to serve


  • Pork & water chestnut burgers:
  • 500g pork mince
  • 75g well-drained, canned water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Pale green part 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup (50g) soft fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A small handful of coriander leaves, optional
  • Light olive oil, for cooking

Line a large flat plate with baking paper, and set it aside.


To make the burgers, put the pork mince, water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, spring onions, parsley, black bean sauce, sesame oil, breadcrumbs, egg, chilli, and salt and pepper into a large bowl, then use your hands (it’s a good idea to wear prep gloves to do this) to squish everything together until it’s thoroughly mixed.  Shape the mixture into 8 burgers, and if you like, press a coriander leaf onto each side. Sit them on the prepared plate, cover them loosely, then pop them in the fridge while you prepare the bok choy.


Snap off  and discard any coarse outer leaves from the bok choy, then cut each one in half lengthwise.  Much as I love bok choy, the pretty spoon-shaped leaves tend to harbour grit, so give the halves a really, really good wash in cool water to make sure they’re clean as a whistle (I tend to be a bit fanatical about this as I hate the feeling when you bite into something that’s gritty). Drain the bok choy in a colander while you measure out and prepare all the remaining ingredients.


To cook the burgers, pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it is a couple of millimetres deep. Heat the frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the burgers to the pan and cook them for 5-6 minutes each side. They brown quite quickly so adjust the heat as you go if they start to look a little too dark. When they’re ready drain them on paper towel.


Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil to cook the bok choy (or use a steamer, if you’d rather).


In a separate, small frying pan, heat the light olive oil over low heat.  Add the garlic, chilli,and ginger to the oil and warm them through for a couple of minutes – you don’t want them to colour much, just to sizzle gently. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil and soy sauce. Taste it and add more sesame oil if you think it needs it, then set the pan aside in a warm spot.


Once the water is boiling, tumble the bok choy into the saucepan and cook it for minute or two until it’s crisp, yet tender and a beautiful green. Drain it really well in a colander (any excess water will dilute the oil mixture and make it a bit watery), then add it to the oil in the frying pan.  Swish the bok choy around so it’s coated (I love the fragrant whoosh of garlic, sesame and chilli-scented steam that rises up as you do this).


Serve the burgers with the bok choy, steamed rice and lime wedges.