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Seoul-Full Kimchee Burgers

Since early childhood I have loved learning about cultures, nationalities and religions other than my own. Subsequently, Cultural Anthropology was my second major on the undergraduate level. My courses included, but were not limited to, Korea, India, Native American People and Religion in Black America,

Every year Cleveland, Ohio sponsors The All Nations Festival. For one weekend during the month of July or August many of the nationalities residing in Northeast Ohio display the essence of their culture, Often in native dress these groups attempt to educate and entertain all festival goers to all aspects of the culture. Of course, native food(s) play a significant role in EVERY culture's heritage. For me the festival affords the opportunity to give life to many of the things I learned in books.

Several years ago I met Hyun, a member of Cleveland's small but active Korean community. Over the years Hyun has become a treasured friend. We have educated each other into the customs, religious rites and foods of each others culture. My recipe, Seoul-Full Kimchee Burgers is dedicated to my dear friend.

Because of the time constraints of Build A Better Burger I have been forced to use a prepared kimchee. However, I would urge anyone making the burgers to take the time to make an authentic kimchee. Hyun's mother was kind enough to share her cucumber kimchee recipe with me.


Basting Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons Asian chile sauce (Sriracha)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing on grill rack


1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

6 good-quality sesame seed hamburger buns, split horizontally
6 leaves Napa cabbage
1 medium English cucumber, unreeled, sliced into thin rounds

1 1/2 cups prepared kimchee

wooden picks as needed


For basting sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, the vinegar, the ginger, the garlic, the chile sauce, the sugar and the sesame oil. Set aside.

Preheat a gras grill for direct cooking on a medium-high heat. When the grill is ready brush the grids with vegetable oil.

For burgers: In a large bowl combine the sirloin, the chuck, the green onions, the fresh ginger, the soy sauce, the garlic, the salt and the pepper. Toss until just blended. Divide the mixture into 6 equal sized patties. TAKE CARE NOT TO COMPRESS THE BEEF TOO TIGHTLY.

Place the patties on the oiled grids and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5 -7 minutes per side for medium. Baste frequently with basting sauce. During last 2 minutes of grilling place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill to toast lightly.

ASSEMBLY: Place a cabbage leaf on the toasted side of each bun bottom. Place a concentric ring of overlapping cucumber slices on each cabbage leaf. Place one cooked patty on top of each cucumber ring. Top each patty with 2 tablespoons of kimchee. Place a bun top, toasted side down on top of each kimchee topped patty. If necessary secure burgers with wooden picks.

Makes 6 burgers.


This is a simple but tasty burger. Many of the ingredients found in the basting sauce are repeated in the burgers.

I feel that the unique taste of these burgers comes from the kimchee topping.