I've been intrigued about where the name sliders comes from, for those mini-hamburgers that pop up on menus in many restaurants, bars and trendy cafes.
A bit of research suggests that it began with a US Navy nickname for hamburgers that were so greasy that they tended to slide around on the plate.
Other theories are that they were small enough to just slide down the throat, while another puts it down to an American hamburger chain that claimed in the 1920s that its version slid out of the box so easily.
You can also find suggestions that it's all about short-order cooks sliding the ingredients around the griddle as they cooked.
Whatever the origin, sliders have developed varieties well beyond the hamburger's traditional meat patty in a bun.
Almost anything in the chef's imagination qualifies, usually - but not necessarily - supported by lettuce and sliced tomato or other vegetables.
For instance, consider pieces of salmon cut to size, crabcakes, spaghetti slathered in a tomato sauce, fried or poached egg, Brussels sprouts - possibly stuffed with your choice of savoury contents, pulled pork with a thick slice of pineapple, ham steak or a large grilled mushroom.
Building the stack is almost an engineering achievement.
Even the buns are often not the ones used for traditional hamburgers. Cooks have been known to use English muffins, pancakes or small waffles to top and tail a slider.
Small brioche slider buns are another example, which I like to use because they are nice and soft.
They're sweeter than plain bread and, sometimes, that complements the flavour of the contents.
There is no need to toast them unless you prefer the slightly crispy result. They can get a soft and pillow-like texture from sitting on the hot slider patty.
To contrast the taste of a sweet or mild-tasting bun, I like to experiment with the spiciness of the contents.
For this recipe, I thought that a spicy chicken patty would set the tone for a delicious slider.
I prefer to mince the chicken myself, but it is fine to buy it ready-minced.
Chicken is extremely versatile as a base for many other flavours, and especially lends itself to spicy ingredients.
Freshly chopped chilli, coriander, turmeric and fresh ginger add a nice tang.
Adding a variety of other fillings to support the main item is an art. To make it interesting, you can serve two or three different sliders on a plate.
I usually choose tomato and lettuce along with the meat patty as the base.
Then ingredients such as red onion slices (raw or sauteed) and mayonnaise can be added to one; cheese, chutney and mushroom to another; and sticks of raw carrot and spring onion to a third one.
Dream up the fillings that suit your taste.
Of course, the result is often a teetering tower, so a toothpick may be necessary to keep it all together.
SPICY CHICKEN SLIDERS
For the patty
- 450g chicken, minced
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, or more to taste
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 2cm piece of turmeric root, grated
- 2 Tbs of red capsicum, finely chopped
- 1 cup coriander leaves and roots, finely chopped
- 1 Tbs lime juice
- 2 Tbs olive oil for frying
- 6 small brioche or small plain buns
- Place all the patty ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Shape into small patties about 11/2 cm thick and place on a baking paper-lined tray in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend and the patties to firm up a little.
- Heat a large frying pan on the stove over medium heat and add the olive oil. Cook patties for around four to five minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Toast or warm the slider buns if desired, then fill each of the buns with a chicken patty and a variety of fillings and sauces to taste. Stabilise the stack with a toothpick.
Some suggestions for fillings are:
- Thick slices of raw or sauteed red onion or spring onion slices
- Whole grilled flat mushrooms
- Roasted red or yellow capsicum
- Tomato and avocado slices
- Sliced tofu
- Cheese slices
- Lettuce or spinach leaves
- Fresh coriander
- Sweet chilli sauce
- Mango chutney
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.