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Tocino Burgers

    Tocino Burgers

    It should be no surprise that Paolo Dungca and Tom Cunanan of Pogiboy in Washington, DC, consider this burger their most famous creation. That’s right; everyone wants a burger with a purple bun. Savor the harmony of the pork’s richness and the achara’s acidic crispness, plus the creamy secret sauce that ties it all together. All the components of this outstanding burger are tasty, but when combined, they form a savory-sweet masterpiece that’s hard to resist.

    The Tocino Burger is Pogiboy’s claim to fame; it consists of two juicy, highly seasoned tocino and pork patties, caramelized pineapple, sharp and acidic green papaya achara, and a creamy “secret sauce” all nestled on a vibrant purple ube bun.

    The Filipino chori burger (also known as a chorizo burger) and chef Paolo Dungca’s childhood meal of sautéed tocino with garlic rice influenced the creation of this burger. Soy sauce, anise wine, and annatto are some of the spices and flavors that make the pork belly both sweet and somewhat spicy—an attractive caramelization forms on the surface throughout the cooking process. Adding tocino to the pork patties was done because “we wanted to bring that warmth and nostalgia to the burger,” as Dungca puts it. “In the Philippines, they cook with love. To be able to share our ancestry and cuisine with the world via this recipe is really meaningful to us. Our status as Filipino chefs serving Filipino cuisine has never been more honored.”


    Green Papaya Achara

    • 1 small (2 1/2-pound) green papaya, peeled and seeded
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
    • 2 cups shaved red cabbage (from 1 small [1-pound] cabbage)
    • 1 small (6-ounce) red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
    • 1 small (5-ounce) red bell pepper, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
    • 1 medium (3-ounce) carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8- x 1/8- x 2-inch pieces1
    • 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8- x 1/8- x 1 1/2-inch pieces
    • 5 teaspoon black pepper
    • ¾ cup white vinegar or sugarcane vinegar (such as Datu Puti)
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar

    Secret Sauce

    • ¾ cup mayonnaise (such as Duke’s)
    • ⅓ cup cornichons (about 1 1/2 ounces), finely chopped
    • ⅓ cup banana ketchup (such as Jufran)
    • 1 tablespoon chile vinegar (such as Datu Puti)
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons Korean chile flakes
    • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

    Tocino Burger Patties

    • 1 pound marinated cured pork tocino (such as Magnolia or Lucia
    • 12 ounces 80% lean ground pork
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugarcane vinegar (such as Datu Puti) or apple cider vinegar
    • 2 ½ teaspoons annatto oil (such as La Favorita)
    • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper

    Additional Ingredients

    • ¼ cup unsalted butter, divided
    • 8 Ube Buns, split horizontally (see Note)
    • 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices fresh pineapple (from 1 [16-ounce] peeled and cored pineapple)
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil


    Prepare the green papaya achara by doing the following.

    1. When cut into matchsticks measuring 1/8 by 1/8 by 2 inches, Papaya may provide roughly 6 cups. (The leftover Papaya may be used for something else.) In a large dish, combine the papaya matchsticks and the two teaspoons of salt. Take 30 minutes to get to room temperature.
    2. Rinse the papaya mixture in cold water after transferring it to a filter. The papaya combination should be squeezed using a clean dish towel to eliminate as much extra moisture as possible. Coat a large heatproof bowl with cooking spray and toss the Papaya, cabbage, onion, bell pepper, carrot, ginger, and black pepper. Over medium heat and stirring often, bring the white vinegar, sugar, and remaining one teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. When the vinegar and sugar are dissolved, pour the hot liquid over the Papaya and toss to incorporate. Refrigerate the mixture, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days, until the ingredients have softened and the color is bright.

    Prepare the special sauce while the papaya mixture chills:

    1. A medium bowl’s worth of mayonnaise, cornichons, banana ketchup, chile vinegar, Korean chili flakes, black pepper, and salt. Salt to taste if necessary.

    Make the patties for the tocino burgers by:

    1. Tocino should be processed in a food processor for approximately 20 seconds or until it is finely chopped. Add the ground pork, brown sugar, sugarcane vinegar, annatto oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper to the big bowl. Use your hands to stir the ingredients together. Scoop out 1 3/4 ounces (3 tablespoons) of the mixture and roll it into 16 balls. Press each ball down to a disc about 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 an inch thick. Put the burgers on hold.
    2. Begin by heating a large cast-iron pan over medium heat and adding one tablespoon of butter. Put two ube buns in the pan, cut side down, and cook them for 2 minutes until they are golden and somewhat crisp. Take out of the pan. The procedure will be completed three more times with the remaining six buns and butter. Toast the buns and put them to one side. Raise the temperature to medium-high beneath the pan. Prepare pineapple slices by browning them in a pan for approximately 4 minutes for each batch until the edges begin to sear. Place the pineapple slices on a serving dish. It would be best if you didn’t clean your skillet.
    3. Put some canola oil in a pan and turn the heat down to medium. Flatten four tocino burger patties to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch by pressing them down with a spatula and placing them on a pan. Allow 2 minutes for each side to cook until browned, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Place on a baking sheet with a rim and cover with foil to maintain heat. Cook the remaining 12 tocino burger patties in the same manner (no need to add more oil between batches).
    4. The top halves of the tube buns should each have roughly a spoonful of the secret sauce spread on them. Put one slice of pineapple on the bottom of each piece of bread, then two tocino burger patties, then approximately a third of a cup of green papaya achara, and finally, the other half of the bun. Keep the leftover green Papaya Achara in the fridge for later. For those who want it, the secret sauce is on the side with their burgers.
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