For many Chinese people in the countryside, hamburgers are a novelty that can only be found in big cities or abroad. But for Dianxi Xiaoge, an internet star in rural Yunnan Province, they’re a delightful culinary challenge.
How do you make a hamburger when your only tools are a cleaver and a wood-fired stove?
With over 11 million followers, Dianxi Xiaoge is known for her soothing cooking videos all shot in the countryside. Her expertise is in traditional Chinese dishes, and she’ll often go into fields and forests to pick ingredients for her dishes.
Normally, she makes local specialties like sweet and spicy noodles, pan-fried rice cakes, and pressed goose. But she was itching for a challenge and decided to tackle something completely foreign: the hamburger.
Her rendition is incredible because she does it without using an oven. Instead, she places charcoal above and below an enclosed wok to create a vessel that distributes heat evenly throughout—especially useful when baking bread.
She then grounds a whole chunk of beef with a cleaver, and instead of grilling her patties, she fries them in her wok.
The reason she wanted to tackle the hamburger is sentimental.
“My grandma and grandpa had never had a burger before,” she tells us, “and I wanted to make them one based on how I remembered eating it in the city.”
She first put up the hamburger video in 2017 and immediately went viral on Chinese and international platforms. It was a turning point in her career. After two years of posting videos to little to no fanfare, the hamburger video was the one that placed her on the social media map.
(Read more: Our exclusive interview with Dianxi Xiaoge)
“When I was making it, I was concerned that people would think that my hamburger was unorthodox,” she says. “I was using my own understanding to make what I thought a hamburger should look like.
“But when the video came out, no one commented on whether or not my methods were good or how it tasted. They were all saying ‘I also want to take my grandpa and grandma out for hamburgers.’”
Here’s a modified recipe of her countryside mini-burger for the average home cook.
For the bun
- 15 grams of yeast
- 1 egg
- 3 teaspoons of butter
- 3½ cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of milk
- 3 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoons of salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 egg white
- White sesame seeds
For the patties
- 2 pounds of ground beef
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon of cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- ¼ cup of chopped onions
- A small knob of ginger, finely chopped
For the garnish
- 8 slices of thinly sliced red onion
- 8 pieces of lettuce
- 8 slices of tomato
- To make the buns, mix yeast, warm water, and ½ cup of flour together. Stir and cover with a plastic wrap. Ferment in a warm place for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, the yeast will become active and start bubbling. Combine it with egg, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Stir.
- Add the remaining flour and beat for 5 minutes with a whisk or chopsticks to form a sticky dough. Knead until smooth.
- Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm and dark place for two hours.
- After two hours, take out the dough. Sprinkle flour on the table and cut into eight portions. Roll into balls, and put on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a thin layer of flour.
- Place in a warm place to rest for 20 minutes until the balls grow to twice the size.
- Whisk together egg whites and milk. Brush the liquid on top of the buns and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15-17 minutes until the surface is golden brown. Let the bread cool down and set aside.
- For the patties, mix together all the ingredients and compress into eight hamburger patties.
- Oil the grill or frying pan, and cook until well done. Assemble the burger together with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and onion.