Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com
So for Superbowl Sunday, my wife and I thought we’d do burgers for dinner. And in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, I thought I’d make a little competition of it. Back in 2011, there was something of a taste test between some popular burgers (see http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/05/in-n-out-vs-five-guys-vs-shake-shack-the-first-bi-coastal-side-by-side-taste-test.html ). Shake Shack has a branch in Chestnut Hill and since they came out on top, I thought I’d test their sauce against the one from Nobu. The sauce recipes can be found here:
So the microbatch recipe for Shake/Fake Shack Burger sauce was:
2 oz Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/2 T mustard (Coleman’s Mustard)
1/2 T ketchup (Heinz)
2 slices of dill kosher pickle
1/8t garlic powder
1/8t smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne
So I began by finely mincing the pickle. Now, I couldn’t get the kosher dill pickle sliced rounds; I estimated that the circular slices were about ~1.5″ across. I pulled out a strip from the jar, cut it into ~1.5″ pieces and minced 2 of those pieces for the sauce (the other piece I ate!).
At this point it was just a matter of adding the mustard, ketchup, garlic powder, paprika and dash of cayenne.
To complete the sauce, I just had to blend all the ingredients into 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
I took a quick taste of the sauce and it reminded me very much of the flavor of a Shake Shack burger, including that ‘smoky’ bite which I expect came from the use of the smoked paprika.
And the microbatch recipe for the Nobu truffle burger sauce was:
Truffle Mayonnaise Microbatch version
5T + 1/2t + 1/4t +1/8t Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/2 T truffle oil
1/2 T + 1 t + 1/8 t honey
1/2t yuzu juice
1/2 T truffle
I began making the Nobu mayonnaise base by mincing up 1 black summer truffle. This turned out to yield 1 tablespoon of minced truffle, half of which I reserved for another dish for another time.
The addition of the truffle oil gave this mayonnaise a heady aromatic hit that was complemented by the addition of the yuzu juice.
What I found surprising was the addition of honey to this mix.
Nobu Burger Sauce Microbatch version
1T mustard (Coleman’s Mustard)
2T + 2t + 1/4t + 1/8t ketchup
3T + 1/2T truffle mayonnaise
To finish making the sauce, I extracted some of the truffle mayonnaise and blended in the mustard, tabasco, and ketchup.
I must say I was really taken by surprise on how aromatic the Nobu burger sauce was. This was going to be an interesting taste test. So to focus on the sauce, I used the same ground beef burger (85% lean) from Whole Foods and used brioche slider buns for the bread. The
focus difference would be the sauces. The taste test idea I had was:
* 1 slider was burger, bun, Nobu sauce
* 1 slider was burger, bun, Shake Shack sauce.
* 1 slider was burger, bun, lettuce, roma tomato slice, Nobu sauce
* 1 slider was burger, bun, lettuce, roma tomato slice, Shake Shack sauce
So split open 8 buns (2 test series, one for myself and one for my wife). I prepared 1 1/3 lbs of hamburger meat into 8 equal portions, shaped by the food ring which I’d used in making the Nobu tofu bun. I seasoned each slider patty with 2 3-fingered
pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix on each side. The slider patties were cooked in a hot pan with a little grapeseed oil at 50% max heat
for about 3 1/2 minutes a side.
For two pairs of the spltit brioche bins, a placed a bit of lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato, a slider patty and then 1 teaspoon of the Nobu burger sauce on 1 slider and 1 teaspoon of the Shake Shack sauce on the other slider. I took a similar approach to the two sliders without lettuce tomato.
After talking it over with my wife, we both agreed that the slider(s) with the Nobu burger sauce reminded one of ‘steak with aromatic truffles’ which gave way to a little sweetness (due the honey) after the third bite and a little bit acidic bite/brightness due to the yuzu juice and tabasco sauce. The slider(s) with the Shake Shack sauce gave us the impression of a barbeque burger – the smokiness, no doubt coming from the paprika and garlic powder. While my wife liked them both, she concluded she had more a preference for the Shake Shack sliders, while I was more inclined to the Nobu sliders.
For the next round Burger Wars, I’d like to check out how the Nobu burger beef mix (1 part filet mignon, 1 part ribeye) matches up with Shake Shack’s mix (2 parts sirloin, 1 part chuck, 1 part brisket).
All in all, there were no losers – just a really good meal.