You might remember an earlier post in which I talked about the challenge my husband gave me: create the perfect BBQ burger. I loved having a goal like that one, and experimented with several different sauces, toppings, etc. to get the best BBQ burger we’d ever had.
Since that time, I’ve been thinking about other kinds of burgers that would be fun to invent. For some reason, a burger influenced by Korean flavors came to mind. I’ve never seen one before on a menu (although I’m sure it exists), and have never tasted one. Maybe it was the visit to one of our favorite “new Korean” food restaurants in San Francisco, Namu Gaji, we had done recently that inspired me.
Regardless, I dreamt of a burger that incorporates kimchi and gochujang, that magical Korean condiment that is made from chiles and fermented soy beans. Talk about umami! That chile paste is unique and utterly delicious.
My first attempt at the Korean burger was not so hot. I used pork for the meat patty, and mixed in chopped yellow onion, gochujang, salt & pepper. I topped it with kimchi leaves and added ketchup mixed with more gochujang. While it tasted good, it didn’t have enough flavor depth. It was missing a few things.
So the second time around, thanks to a little help from a Korean friend of mine (thanks, Joely Urton!), I got it just right. Moist, delicious, a little spicy, with just the right levels of umami, sweetness and tartness. Putting it on a whole wheat bun was the trick to adding just the right amount of sweetness. Here is the recipe for you to try (makes 2 burgers, but feel free to double).
2/3 pounds of lean ground beef
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp gochujang* (Korean chile paste)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 green onion, sliced thinly
salt & pepper to taste
2 fried eggs (optional)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp gochujang*
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sriracha (optional or to taste)
1 cup kimchi leaves, drained and sliced very thinly into matchsticks
2 whole wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted if desired
Mix all ingredients for the burgers together until well blended. Form into 2 patties, about 7 inches across and 1/2 inch thick (they will shrink when cooking). In a small bowl, mix the ketchup with the gochujang, soy sauce and sriracha, if using. Set aside.
Cook burgers as you normally would any other burger (in a grill pan or on our BBQ or gas grill) until cooked to desired doneness. On the bottom half of the buns, spread about 1 Tbsp of the ketchup mixture, and top with a burger. Top the burger with the fried egg if using, then the sliced kimchi. Spread another Tbsp of the ketchup on the top half of the burger buns, and place atop the kimchi.
*gochujang can be found in Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.com here.