RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Seoul-fully Spicy Burgers

I love to create interesting recipes based on things I have eaten or seen. Sometimes, something just strikes my fancy and it takes off from there. As an example, I saw a quirky title for a completely different recipe that caught my imagination. This idea generated this recipe. I am always looking for ways to incorporate different ethnicities into my cooking. This particular recipe is based on the Korean version of barbecue, bulgogi.


3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon [scant] Asian red pepper paste, preferably kochujang [Korean red pepper paste]
3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, white and pale green parts only [reserve green tops for later use]
2 1/2 lbs. fresh ground chuck
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions [tops reserved from earlier use]
6 teaspoons butter, room temperature
6 sesame seed hamburger buns
6 crisp Romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cup prepared kimchi [Korean pickled cabbage], coarsely chopped


1. Preheat 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low to medium heat on one side of gas grill. Add sesame seeds, and toast approximately 2 to 3 minutes, or just until golden., Shake the pan or stir, with a rubber spatula, every few seconds to prevent seeds burning. Remove from heat, place on a shallow plate and allow to cool. Turn both burners on to medium high to high to preheat grill.

2. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, salt, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and the Asian pepper paste until well combined. Add green onion, cooled sesame seeds and ground chuck; use your hands to blend ingredients together carefully just until mixed. Shape into six equal-sized balls and flatten slightly into patties.

3. In a small mixing bowl, stir together vegetable oil and sesame oil. Use a silicon basting brush to brush preheated grill rack with oil. Place patties on grill. Grill on one side for approximately 4 to 6 minutes [for medium], or just until browned about halfway up sides of patty. Flip burgers over carefully, and grill for additional 4 to 6 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached.

4. Mix sauce while patties are grilling. In small non-metal mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and green onion tops. Refrigerate until needed.

5. As burgers get done, remove to platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Butter tops and bottoms of buns. Place buttered sides down on grill; toast lightly, approximately 1 to 3 minutes.

6. Place bun bottoms on serving platter, and spread with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture. Place 1 crisp Romaine lettuce leaf on each bun half; divide kimchi evenly between buns, spooning on top of lettuce. Top kimchi with 1 burger. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise on each bun top and place on burger. Serve and enjoy!


Chefs Notes: Kochujang is the Korean version red pepper paste, and can be found at large well-stocked grocery stores in the international foods aisle. However, if it cannot be found, any Asian-style red pepper paste can be used. Please note that this paste is super-hot, so use smallest amount possible, keeping in mind the heat level tolerated by guests.

Kimchi is a Korean condiment of fermented cabbage spiced with fish sauce and the aforementioned red pepper paste. If you are unable to locate prepared kimchi, the following recipe makes a suitable substitute:

Korean-style Cole Slaw

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Asian-style red pepper paste
1 to 2 tablespoon honey
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed and thinly sliced into slivers
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Start with smallest amount on ingredients listed. In bowl of food processor or blender, place garlic cloves, kosher salt, ginger, Asian fish sauce, Asian-style red pepper paste, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Place top on bowl, and pulse to roughly mix ingredients; scrape down sides if necessary. While machine is running, stream just enough vegetable oil through feed tube/hole and blend until dressing is thick. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Place shredded cabbage, radishes, green onions in a large non-metal mixing bowl; pour dressing over cabbage. Toss until moistened. Cover and let sit at room temperature for up to one hour. Refrigerate leftovers.