It is all Sarah Gim’s fault.
I was perusing Slashfood the other day, and ran smack into her post, “Food Porn: The Bulgogi Burger,” and had an instant craving. (Any woman who has been pregnant knows exactly what I mean when I say, “instant craving.”)
What the heck is a bulgogi burger? Well, Sarah took some ground beef and mixed into it the marinade that goes on bulgogi, the famous Korean grilled beef that is amazingly tasty, especially when served wrapped in leaf lettuce with some herbs and raw onions. Then she cooked the burgers, and topped them with lettuce and onions that had been marinated in that same bulgogi marinade, and instead of ketchup, she moistened the bun with goh-choo-jahng, which is Korean red chile sauce.
She mentioned that if she had kimchee, she probably would have shredded some of it up for a “slaw” to go atop the burger, but as she the fridge was bare of the fermented cabbage, she did without.
By the time I read the post, my mouth was watering. I -had- to have me one of those burgers. I just had to. I became fixated upon them, and I hankered mightily for those burgers with a hunger just this side of Elvis clamoring for another peanut butter ‘n ‘nanner sammich.
(To be fair, at this time, I have to say that this is not all Sarah Gim’s fault–John T. Edge holds some amount of the blame here, too. I had just finished reading his book, Hamburgers & Fries, where I read about all sorts of regional variants on hamburgers that are to be found in this great land, and I was jonesing after every last one of them, all because Edge writes the way Aretha Frankling sings.)
And I had in the pantry all of the fixings for bulgogi marinade and kimchee. I was distinctly short of goh-choo-jahng, but I did have a fine and tasty substitute: sriracha. Sriracha sauce is the wonderful tangy hot sauce with the jaunty rooster on the bottle that one applies to one’s bowl of pho in countless Vietnamese restaurants, or which is used to heat up one’s pad thai in countless Thai places across the US.
In our house, sriracha is ubiquitous, but we never call it by its proper name; we just call it, “The Rooster.”
As in, “Pass me The Rooster, please?”
Or, “I think we are running low on Rooster.”
So, tonight, because there was no chance of rain, I determined to make bulgogi burgers for supper.
About five hours before dinnertime, I minced up some scallion top, ginger and garlic, added some pepper flakes, raw sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, and kneaded this mixture firmly into a pound and a half of local, grassfed ground beef. Then, I covered it up and let it sit for a while, and get all tasty while I went about my day.
Right before dinner, I made the toppings, and improvised a side dish. Instead of marinating raw onions, I caramelized some, and then added rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil to them. I let the liquid reduce to a thick glaze, and the onions cooked down into a rich dark brown “jam” that was heady with scent and flavor. The kimchee slaw was even simpler–I just shredded up half a small jar of kimchee and called it slaw. (No one else in the house had the kimchee on top of the burger, so I ate the rest of it on the side. No sense in letting perfectly good kimchee go to waste.)
As for the side dish–I roasted the new potatoes I picked up at the farmers market on Saturday in peanut oil, with chile flakes and salt. When they were halfway done, I added minced garlic, and when they were done, I tossed in some minced Thai basil.
How did it all taste?
Fantastic. Just fantastic. Zak cooked the meat so that it was still juicy on the grill, and the potatoes were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Better than french fries, in my opinion, and the Thai basil and garlic combination was a winner. The onion jam, Rooster, kimchee and leaf lettuce added textural contrast and layers of flavor to the already quite tasty burgers, and the whole-wheat buns held it all together.
The onions were rich and smoky, sweet and smooth. The kimchee was crunchy and tangy, with heat and salt to spare, while the burgers had all the richness of bulgogi in patty form. The Rooster added another level of sweetness and tanginess while ramping up the heat another notch, and the lettuce was all crisp, buttery and green.
It was all good.
Will I be making these again?
Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.
Thanks, Sarah–it was a great idea!
Ingredients for the Burgers and Toppings:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 dark green scallion top, minced
1/2″ cube ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon raw sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon peanut oil
pinch chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
kimchee, shredded, as needed
lettuce leaves, as needed
buns of your choice
Mix together first nine ingredients well, put into a bowl, cover and sit in the fridge to marinate for at least four hours. An hour before you are going to cook it, take it out and allow to come to room temperature, still covered.
While meat is marinating, heat peanut oil in a small skillet and saute onion. Sprinkle with salt early on to bring out the water in the onions faster, and stir constantly. When it is medium golden in color, add sugar and chile flakes, and continue cooking and stirring. When the onions are quite shrunken and are starting to turn deep golden, add wine, and boil off alcohol, still stirring. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and simmer until the liquid reduces to a shiny brown glaze and the onions have started to fall apart into a “jamlike” consistency.
Grill burgers to desired doneness, and when they are finished cooking, allow them to sit for about three to five minutes to rest. Assemble burgers with some lettuce, onions, and kimchee if desired with The Rooster being the final touch.
Ingredients for the Potatoes:
1 quart small new potatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on their size
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
red chile flakes to taste
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup Thai basil leaves, stemmed and minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silpat or is non-stick. Pour peanut oil over, toss to coat potatoes. Make sure they go back to being cut side down and all surfaces of the potatoes have been coated with a thin film of oil.
Sprinkle with salt and chile flakes.
Bake in oven 18 minutes. Take out of oven, and sprinkle evenly with the garlic, and return to oven and bake another seven minutes for a total of 25 minutes. With very small potatoes, this should be enough time–test with a fork. If they are not tender, put back in the oven for a few more mintues.
Sprinkle with Thai basil and serve.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.