Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kimchee Burgers: Just because I wanted to try

For Luke House Church, who humbly agreed to be my guinea pigs and KRN who wouldn't leave me alone about kimchee

I know, it sounds a bit strange. Why put kimchee in a burger? And would it taste good? I spent a good part of a week fiddling with ingredients and burger components in my head, because I just wanted to see if adding kimchee to a burger would taste good. It was a week fraught with a lot of crazy thoughts, only because I really wasn't sure how it would turn out, and in the end, I knew that I just had to TRY it out, to see the results.

Fortunately for me, I always have an ample supply of guinea pigs, because a broad range of responses is very informative for me when I am working on a new recipe. I want to hear numerous opinions and ideas about what people are tasting and get feedback so that I can finely hone my dish. My guinea pigs? I do use Daughters and Husband quite a bit, but for the trickier more unusual offerings, I like to use my church small group. When I sent out an email explaining that they would have kimchee burgers, I did not hear any response. I was concerned because I thought that perhaps the combination of KIMCHEE and BURGER was too unusual and rather off putting, and it caused me a bit of stress.

However, when Friday night meeting rolled around, I found my church small group ready and willing. One member came in saying,"I'm hungry. I didn't eat before I came" all in anticipation of the kimchee burger. His wife was also excited to try and as they were the first ones, I decided to throw some burgers down on the grill and have them go for it.

I made them try it in a variety of ways - one with cheese, one without cheese, one with ketchup, with pickled onions, and made them taste different permutations of the dish. The final analysis was this - once you put in all the fixings, you had a great burger, but you weren't sure exactly why. The kimchee flavor blended so harmoniously into the background, all you knew was that you were eating a delicious burger, but you didn't attribute it to the kimchee. One member commented, "If this were an Iron Chef episode, and the secret ingredient was kimchee, I would have to disqualify the dish, because kimchee is not the star. But it's a great burger."

And I if you want to put a little kick in your burger (incidentally, it's not spicy), try adding some kimchee, and get your taste buds revved up for some action.

Kimchee Burgers

Burger Mix
3 cups of kimchee, chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons garlic minced
3 tablespoons ginger minced
3 lbs of ground meat (I used an 88% meat, 12% fat blend)
1 cup chopped white or brown onion
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or another unseasoned bread crumb)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons crushed toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a large fry pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add kimchee, garlic, and ginger, and fry until the kimchee is translucent. The time for reaching this stage will vary, depending on how RIPE the kimchee is - the riper the quicker...anywhere between 8-15 minutes. After cooking, set aside to cool to room temperature. (cools faster if you put it on a plate instead of leaving it in the pan, if you are in a hurry.)

In a large bowl, add the ground meat, onion, scallion, breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce and cooked, cooled kimchee. Using your hand (I like to use a disposable glove on my hand), mix with a light hand all the ingredients. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated and you see a uniform mixture. Cover and chill until you are ready to form into burger patties.

When you are ready to grill, make the patties the size that you wish. (I did about 3/4 a cup of mixture per patty)

Grilling instructions
You want to AVOID flames cooking the burger, and instead you want heat. Flames make things burned and heat actually cooks cook it over lower heat instead of cranking up your grill as sometimes dripping fat causes flame flareups. Cook until fully cooked, about 12 minutes total.

Oven Broiling instructions
In a roasting pan, place burgers and roast for 6 minutes per side. Make sure it is fully cooked.

Pickled onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup vinegar (I used rice vinegar, but white vinegar is fine too)
1 tablespoon sugar

Place onions in a shallow bowl and pour vinegar and sugar on top. Mix and stir and submerge all the onions. (add a bit more vinegar if necessary.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Soy Sesame Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. Cover and chill until needed.

iceberg Lettuce
cheddar cheese

Toast buns if desired. On each side of the bun, spread a thin layer of the soy sesame mayonnaise. Place a cooked burger, a slice of cheese, pickled onions, lettuce and top with the bun. Enjoy!

Printable recipe


KenRN said...


Cate said...

Now that I'm living in Korea, I can't get enough kimchee! I never thought I'd love it this much, so to me a kimchee burger sounds PERFECT!

Jim said...

one trick my wife uses to dial up the kimchee flavor of any dish is with a generous pour of kimchee juice. in this case, in the ground beef with some type of breading binder will do the trick. hopefully it won't get too wet. an ideal invention here would be a kimchee flavored dry seasoning...

Maggie said...

Ohh yum.. this sounds amazing :)

Kevin said...

These kimchi burgers sound good! A while ago I did some bulgogi like burgers with kimchi as a garnish in the bun.

cindy* said...

yum! i actually had a burger in new york that had kimchi instead of pickles. it was amazing!

Anonymous said...

I was in queens in New York in 90s.
And there was a small pizza store selling kimchi pizza. The owner was a Italian guy. It was pretty good.


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