From Hamburger Surprise to Mince to You

When I lived in Africa, ground hamburger meat cooked with spices was called mince. We would eat mince with mealy (the sticky corn based staple called pap). When I was a little girl, we used to make a version that just had salt, hamburger meat and onions (and yes, even some of us—not me—ate it with ketchup. Yuck). We also ate it with rice and called it hamburger surprise! I loved making that for my little sisters and they just thought I was the best chef! Ah, those were the days when the little ones looked up to me.

Mince anything. I like pork or lamb, but not turkey or beef. You can use anything, even tofu. My palette is a little more sophisticated now. But mince is still a fast easy dinner for the parent on the run and good on a cold night. Make the rice first. Mince is fast cooking. I was at ChoLon in Denver and they had a terrific version with kaffir lime leaves. Andy Ricker, the author of Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand has a great set of Thai minces. Chinese folks eat mince with water chestnuts, oyster sauce, and sometimes celery or bamboo shoots. It’s what you might find wrapped in lettuce leaves. It’s easy to do. Invent your own mince. Remix the idea for me and tell me about it.