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Spicy Turkey Burgers with “Som Tam” Slaw

September 22, 2009

There are a couple nights this week where Elysabeth is scheduled to come home late.  Tonight she had to work late and in a couple days, she’ll be getting a haircut. Seeing as tonight was one of those nights, I wanted to make something a little cool and different, but not terribly challenging.  I also wanted to get away from our “all-chicken-all-the-time” rut and make an interesting burger. Instead of making burgers with ground beef or chicken, I settled on turkey, and looked around for interesting turkey burger recipes, finally settling on this one over at Blue Kitchen. Given that these burgers were somewhat spicy, I decided to pair them with a cooling, non-mayo coleslaw. I incorporated a flavors inspired by the Som Tam Thai salad (a new favorite of mine), in an attempt to give the slaw a “Southwest (US) meets Southeast (Asia)” flair.

This meal was a lot of fun to make, and was pretty darn easy too. I used one shortcut:  pre-shredded “angel hair” slaw, making this meal much more doable for a weeknight. The burgers are mildly spicy, and that can easily be increased by adding more jalapeño, chili powder, or a mix of both. The slaw has a very tiny kick, a lot of lime flavor and some sweetness. It was fun, easy and I was surprised how great the dressing for the slaw turned out!

Spicy Turkey Burgers (Serves  5) :

  • 1 package (about 1.3 lbs) ground turkey
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, chopped finely
  • 2/3 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • slices of cheese (optional)
  • 5 buns (use whatever you like)


  1. Place medium frying pan on medium heat, and add onion and pepper and cook until just soft, about 3-4 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Combine burger ingredients in large bowl until just combined, and add onion and pepper mix when cooled. Form into 5 patties.
  3. Season patties with salt and pepper and spray both sides of the burger with cooking spray. Place on very hot griddle pan or grill.
  4. Cook patties for a few minutes on each side, and then turn heat down to medium to finish cooking insides, turning if necessary.
  5. Place cheese on patties and place patties on buns. Serve with slaw (below).

“Som Tam” Slaw (Serves 2-3) :

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 dry red Thai chiles, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • crushed roasted peanuts
  • torn fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Add garlic, chiles, fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar to bowl and mix with fork until sugar dissolves. Let sit to let chiles reconstitute and flavors mix.
  2. Right before serving, toss cabbage with dressing and combine thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and peanuts before serving.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2009 9:23 pm

    I love the recipe. I think we should make the recipe for my boyfriend’s out of town visit.

    I am so jealous of your culinary brilliance!

  2. Jordan Bentley permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:16 pm

    We had turkey burgers last night too! They had mango chutney & apples in them and we grilled them- so good!

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