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let’s ramp things up

Recipe: mushu pork burger

It’s been months since Kaweah has been able to walk up the stairs on her own. She walks down the steps just fine, albeit slowly (with an escort to catch her if she stumbles). But one of us will carry her up to the main floor several times a day. Of course, we can’t ask our dear neighbor to carry Kaweah up a flight of stairs when she lets the pup out while we’re gone all day. So we’ll typically keep Kaweah on the first floor – where there are only three steps. Except now, Kaweah can’t get up those three steps either. I figured a ramp would be a good solution to let Kaweah wander up to the front door when she pleases (she likes this as she can look to see who is coming and going). I dropped a wad of cash on a dog ramp at the store and it turns out that it’s too narrow for our aging dog. Kaweah’s hind leg kept slipping off the edge and it scared the hell out of her little doggy self. We returned the ramp, went to the hardware store, and bought some materials.


et voilà!



Some plywood, hinges, support beams, wood screws, and foam cushion bathmats ($13 each at Costco) made for a nice, solid ramp. At first Kaweah was reluctant, but after some coaxing (i.e. treats) she got the hang of going up and down the ramp like a pro. Yay, success! Why the foam cushion bathmats? She seems to get better footing on these than on standard carpet on an incline. Also, we know she likes them because she always stands on them in our bathroom.

no prob

she is all about the treat



It was a simple DIY project, but I love making things to my specifications. The same goes for food. Actually, I think food is easier because I work with food all the time. A few days ago, Jeremy and I were reminiscing about the California roll burger. We’ve only ever made it twice, but it is so unbelievably GOOD. And it got me thinking about burgerfying other dishes… like mushu pork.

ground pork, green onions, fish sauce

mix it together with some salt and pepper

form the patties



It’s all there except instead of a mushu wrapper, you have a hamburger bun. You could conceivably sauté the shiitake mushrooms with the cabbage and other vegetables, but I like the idea of leaving them whole and as a separate, meaty bite. I sautéed them in a little bit of sesame oil. There is no right or wrong way to do this, kids.

buns, hoisin sauce, eggs, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo shoots, sprouts, green onions

julienne the green onions and shred the cabbage

sauté the vegetables



I considered making a raw cabbage slaw, but I may leave that for a summertime version. The sautéed cabbage holds its texture well and gives the burger a nice crunchy component. So my recommendation is to prepare the vegetables first. Then while the burgers are grilling, you can simultaneously fry up the eggs. If it is a potential fire hazard for you to multitask, then grill (or pan fry) the burgers first, then fry the eggs.

a layer of cabbage

patties hot off the grill

set the patty atop the cabbage



Treat the hoisin sauce like ketchup. Use as much or as little as you like, but… I like my hoisin sauce! Spreading it on the patty creates a nice anchor for the shiitakes, otherwise I think the mushrooms do a lot of sliding around. The finishing touch is a fried egg on top of the shiitakes. It’s always a sunny-side up egg for me, but Jeremy prefers his eggs over hard. Customize it and make it your own, I say.

spoon some hoisin sauce on the patty

mmmm, shiitakes

the crown jewel – a fried egg



This burger is just like mushu pork! Except it’s not. It tastes like mushu pork, but it has the texture of a hamburger with all of the lovely fixins. It ranks up there with the California roll burger, perhaps just under (come on, that burger has KING CRAB!). So if you’re a fan of traditional mushu pork, I think the mushu pork burger is worth trying. We are hooked.

the burgerfication of mushu pork



Mushu Pork Burger
[print recipe]

cabbage stir-fry
1 tbsp vegetable oil (a little more if using stainless steel pan)
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch strips
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

sautéed shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, whole or sliced (totally up to you)
1/4 tsp salt

burger patties
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, minced

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 eggs, fried
4 hamburger buns, toasted or not (up to you again)

Make the cabbage stir-fry: Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the green onions and stir them around for 20 seconds while they sizzle. Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted. Add the sprouts and sauté for a minute. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables. Add the bamboo shoots and sauté another minute. Remove the cabbage stir-fry to a bowl.

Sauté the shiitake mushrooms: Using the same pan (wipe it clean), heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms and let them cook. When they have soaked up the oil, reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle the salt over the mushrooms. Flip them over or stir them around every 30 seconds. When the mushrooms wilt, increase the heat to medium-high and let the liquid cook off. Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the burgers: Mix everything together in a bowl with your hand. Divide the pork into four equal portions and form patties from each quarter. Make the center of each patty slightly thinner to avoid a domed patty when you grill it. Grill on high heat about 3 minutes each side (depending on the strength of your grill) until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Assembly: Layer 1/3 cup of the cabbage stir-fry on the bottom half of the bun. Set a pork patty on the cabbage. Spread a heaping spoonful of hoisin sauce over the patty. Arrange some shiitake mushrooms on the hoisin sauce. Top the mushrooms with a fried egg. Finish the burger with the top half of the bun. Serve hot. Makes 4 burgers.

33 nibbles at “let’s ramp things up”

  1. Bahar says:

    You are incredible parents.I feel so touched by your attention and care for your best friend and your thoughtfulness.
    God bless you…

  2. Kristin says:

    I am sure you feel so lucky to have Kaweah, but…wow…I second what Bahar says and what I said when you made the harness thingie so Jeremy could carry her home from a hike if necessary…you guys are amazing parents. How fortunate that you all are to have each other. And thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Sandi says:

    Hhaha..the treat, we all have our own motivation :)
    “Treat the hoisin sauce like ketchup” = really really like that..

  4. Jillian says:

    You are such a great dog-mom. I wish all parents treated their pets (and children!) with the love and attention you give to yours. Thank you.

  5. Liz N. says:

    Jen, this looks so yummy! I have a soft spot for Mushu Pork at Chinese restaurants and this burger will be no different. I’m in the middle of a Whole30 challenge, but this recipe will be at the top of my list for reintroduction into my diet (maybe without the bun). I need to find a way to make Paleo/Whole30 compliant hoisin sauce STAT!

  6. Bridget says:

    I was just thinking yesterday that I love mushu, but I never make it because I have no where to buy the pancakes and I don’t have time to make them myself in the evening after work. This completely solves that problem!

  7. audra says:

    ah, i love it when clever people improve upon an expensive product and make it better! when i saw the picture of your ramp i was hoping those mats were from costco. i used to train dogs and when those mats first showed up in costco i bought a couple to use for the “go to your place” command (it gives the dog someplace recognizable and secure to hold a position; for example, lie there and wait politely for a treat rather than crowding the door when guests arrive, etc). i’ve also been using them as dog beds, since fleece beds of those dimensions can easily cost $35-70, and up! and i love that they’re transportable so i can throw one in my car and have one whenever/wherever we travel. at current count, we have four of them– not including the long one we have for our own bathroom– and only just got a second dog last month! our older girl loves them because they’re comfortable and she loves her “place” command, and the puppy naturally seeks them out around the house even before i formally taught him. clearly, Kaweah appreciates it just as much! =D thanks for the pictures, and for the recipe. my hunt continues for real Chinese food in VT….. i really need to learn how to cook this stuff on my own. getting “home food” every couple of months when i visit my parents in NJ is not nearly enough!

  8. Marin says:

    First, I can’t get into the food without saying, “Awww… puppy!” to Kaweah.

    This sounds SO good. I have a new cast iron wok on the way. I may christen it with this recipe.

  9. Kim says:

    Kaweah is so adorable – and makes me tear up every time I read about her. Mainly because we have a 14 year old black lab named Riley who could be Kaweah’s brother. We are going through the same things you write about. :) We love our pups!

  10. Lesliek says:

    We had an amazing harness for our Angel Trooper. Here’s the website ; http://www.helpemup.com . If you need to make an outdoor ramp, the attachments for a ramp onto a truck bed work well. Cover with plywood & use staples or roofing nails to attach indoor/outdoor carpeting. Plastic chicken wire fencing & metal fence posts provide safety sides & you can use zip ties to tighten the fencing if it stretches with time.

  11. Cindy says:

    God bless you for loving and caring for your sweet Kaweah so well and wonderfully, in sickness and in health. I work in the rescue of abused and neglected dogs and cats and so many of them are seniors struggling a bit with getting older. What a fantastic ramp – love the purple – and I love even more that it became a DIY project. Maybe it makes life a bit more fun that pet stores often don’t get it right. And as for being all about the treat. Really, aren’t we all?!? :)

  12. shannon says:

    I lost my golden retriever in March last year, 15 years old. Rimadyl is absolutely brilliant for aging dogs-mine behaved like a puppy on it. It was really nice for the last bit to see him so comfortable and agile. Thanks for the recipe also.

  13. MPD310 says:

    Much love to Kaweah! It’s easy to see what a sweet girl she is. Great note from Audra above, what a helpful and loving community you have created.

    As for the burgers, this is so happening this weekend at our place!

  14. Shut Up and Cook says:

    Oh, the things we do for these dogs of ours…but so worth it. Dear friends of ours. As always, your recipe looks spectacular as well.

  15. jacquie says:

    oh i tried one of those ramps w/ an older elderly dog i had and had the same experience – way to narrow. it would be tough for a young agile dog let alone one that is already slipping. i ended up taking the apartment on the 1st floor when i had to leave the house and yard so my currently elderly pup could get in and out more easiy. darn it i hate that they grow old so fast – don’t you. thanks for taking care of her.

  16. angelitacarmelita says:

    Sending lots of puppy love to Kaweah! I just know that she loves her cozy new ramp, and the parents that made it for her. I love animals soo much, that I can longer bear to have any of my own anymore. My last one, my precious darling doberman, Fang, was, well the last one for me. I honor the love that you and Jeremy bestow on your sweet doggy, for as long as your honored to have her…

    About the burger – brilliant. I’ve been jones-in for Mhu-shu and this will totally fill that need. Thank you and have an excellent weekend!

  17. Tressa in NC says:

    Love the ramp for Kaweah!! My dogs are going to need help soon, so I’m keeping your invention in mind. So glad your girl still has some independence. She’s a lovely girl!

  18. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up says:

    You are so sweet to Kaweah. It is so nice to see people take such great care of their animal babies. Growing up I had a greyhound who had similar issues as he aged. I remember having to walk him around the house slowly so he wouldn’t slip on the wood flooring. In my opinion, how you take care of your animal says so much about the type of person you are. I guess that means you guys are pretty great!!

    The burger looks FANTASTIC. My partner is not a pork fan so I think I will substitute it for some ground chicken. Thanks for the recipe.

  19. MK says:

    Kaweah is such a smarty to choose you for his mates! Am in Cabo and going to the Humane Society on Monday to spend time with some of the wilder animals with the hope that they eventually get used to humans and become adoptable. Meanwhile, it’s on to happy hour at the pool!

  20. Kurt Jacobson says:

    Reminds me of the days in Frisco CO carrying my 100 lb 12 year old German Sheperd up 3 flight of stairs. There were no ramps or elevators. I’d just hum He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother on the way up. Your dog is so lucky to have you!

  21. Tanya says:

    Just tried the burger recipe and it was delish! I didn’t have bean sprouts or bamboo shoots on hand, but was still really flavorful. I especially loved the egg and mushroom on top.

  22. soo says:

    I love your blog, but when you talk about Kaweah, I always show my husband. We’re big fans!

  23. Margie says:

    Love the recipe and plan on trying it soon with some venison sausage my neighbor gave us.

    THANKS for giving the ‘front stage’ to Miss K. I love what you and Jeremy have devised for her. I hate that our special pups are facing debilitating challenges, but you’ve proved once again that we don’t have to settle for second best. We simply need to put on our thinking caps and go to plan B. Kudos to you and Jeremy. Sweet kisses and hugs to Miss K.

  24. Susanne says:

    You are such good parents. So glad there are people like you in the world!

  25. Natalie says:

    Yum! These look so good, I love homemade burgers!

  26. Deb J says:

    I first noticed your blog because of Kaweah, because I had an older gold lab that I adored, but we were also at the stage where we carrying her up and down the stairs, and walks were near impossible…so, I loved reading about Kaweah’s adventures. Then after reading about your personal battles, and your food, and enjoying your awesome photography, I was hooked for sure.

    After all these years of reading your blog, now Kaweah is getting older, and my husband is battling esophegeal cancer, so new recipes are not something we care about right now, but I still check in to see how you all are doing, please give Kaweah a kiss from me, one of her first, and biggest fans.

  27. Gaslamp Foodie says:

    Thanks for this! You’ve made a burger person very happy righ now! Really love shiitakes in a burger. For a change, no ketchup, mayo and cheese; how cool is that?

  28. Brynnie says:

    God bless sweet Kaweah and her sweet folks… <3

  29. Caterina B says:

    Very excellent idea to make her that ramp. I believe in making anything we can rather than buying, buying, buying. And, of course, this applies to food, too, in a huge way!
    But….I just might have to give those cushioned bathroom mats another look!

    We have freezers full of our own pork, ground turkey and my hubby’s own elk he got only 3 miles from home.
    We will absolutely try these pork burgers.

  30. Mad says:

    Just found your site while looking for sushi recipes. Love it! Cant wait to try some of the recipes you shared. I also a have lab, just turned 14 years old, loves car rides to the doggy park, but starting to have trouble getting in and out of the car. Will try your ramp idea this weekend. Thanks!

  31. jenyu says:

    Thanks to all of you for your sweet words about Kaweah :) I really appreciate all of the shared pup stories too. xxoo

    Sandi – I love me my condiments!

    Bridget – yup, even though I can buy the mushu shells, they’re sometimes a pain to deal with (sticking together and all that). I hear ya!

    audra – thanks for your tip! We had to take a quick road trip with Kaweah and threw two of her mats in the back of the car. It made her experience soooo much better! xoxo

    Marin – :)

    Kim – I’ve never dealt with an aging dog before, so I find other accounts quite helpful and figured it would be good to share some of that information and our experience here for others. xo

    Lesliek – thanks. We have no trouble carrying Kaweah about since she’s pretty small for a lab (60 lbs). But I’ll keep that link in mind to recommend to friends with larger pups!

    Cindy – I’m so glad there are people like you working in animal rescue xoxo

    shannon – thanks for that bit of advice. We’ll keep it in mind.

    jacquie – we do an awful lot for the ones we love :)

    angelitacarmelita – thank you xo

    Tressa – thanks and best of luck to you and your dear pups xo

    Bernadette – you are very kind (and I’m sure ground chicken burgers would work too).

    MK – thank you for helping those animals hopefully find a forever home xo

    Kurt – thank you, dear!

    Tanya – great to hear it!

    soo – :)

    Margie – xxoo

    Susanne – you’re so sweet xo

    Deb – wow, that really gets me right here. I’m sending you and your husband good healing vibes. Kaweah sends wiggly waggles your way too. xoxo

    Caterina – the cushioned bath mats are fantastic. She seems to prefer to stand or sit on them rather than the hardwood floors and they are more stable for her than regular carpet :)

    Mad – all the best to your pup! xo

  32. Samantha says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and AMAZING recipes. I tried your mushu burger tonight and it was totally delish. My kids even loved it! Your blog is hands down one of my most favorite. Keep up the good work!

  33. Rachael @ Tokyo Terrace says:

    Oh my gosh. This looks delicious! I’m starting to think of other great dishes to “burgerfy” like the pork filling for tradition gyoza. Holy wow.

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