One of my favorite dishes of all time is the hamburger. It is so simple, and one that is associated with summer and summer holidays like July 4th. I have had so many different variations throughout the years, but I gotta say my favorite is the Korean burger or a hamburger with Korean flavors. Flavors like gochujang, soy sauce, and kimchi pair so perfectly with fatty dishes like hamburgers. That’s why I wanted to put up my own recipe for this yummy dish. I hope you enjoy it!
Where does the hamburger come from?
Over the past week, I have been watching Taste the Nation, a show hosted by Padma Lakshmi where she goes around to different immigrant communities in the US and learns about their food culture. Watching this show was very eye opening because I learned some surprising things. Like how the hamburger is not strictly an American invention. In fact, hamburgers have German origins. The creation of the hamburger was made possible by the invention of the meat mincer by a German engineer named Karl Drais. This led to the popularization of the hamburg steak which is a precursor to the hamburger patty. The actual invention of the hamburger itself has been debated through the years, but it’s clear that it wouldn’t be possible without the influence of German cuisine.
I think that this Korean burger is probably (in my opinion) one of the best representations of American cuisine. It takes inspiration from both German and Korean culture to create a dish that is amazing. To me, great American cuisine comes from celebrating different immigrant cultures and fusing them into one.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Burger patties
- Ground beef – For me, the perfect burger has ground beef in it. The best kind of ground beef to use has 15-20% fat. Without fat, the burger can be pretty dry and tough. Other kinds of meat you can use are ground chicken and ground turkey.
- Seasonings (salt, black pepper, and garlic powder) – All these seasonings add flavor to the burger patty. Any kind of salt or pepper can be used.
- Gochujang – Gochujang is a fermented condiment from Korean cuisine. It is made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju powder, yeotgireum, and salt. It is quite strong in flavor, so I would use it sparingly. If you can’t find this ingredient, I would leave it out.
- Soy sauce – Soy sauce adds umami flavor to the burger. For a gluten free option, use tamari.
- Mirin – Mirin is a sweet cooking wine that is similar to rice wine. If you can’t find mirin, I would add 2 teaspoons of sugar.
- Other ingredients
- Hamburger buns – You can use any kind of burger buns you want. I chose to use wheat burger buns.
- White cheddar cheese – You should choose any kind of cheese you want. I like the sharp flavor of cheddar cheese, so I used that.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is a fermented, Korean side dish that is slightly spicy and vinegar-y. This addition cuts through the savory flavors of the rest of the dish, creating more balance.
- Butter lettuce – You can use any kind of lettuce you want.
- Red onions – I used red onions because I like the color and how its slightly sweet flavor. A good substitute is sweet yellow onions.
- Tomatoes – Any kind of tomatoes should work for this burger.
- Sriracha mayo – To make sriracha mayo, mix 2 tablespoons of mayo with 2 teaspoons of sriracha.
Making my Korean burger
This is one easy recipe. First prep your toppings. Slice your cheese, tomatoes, and red onion. Set aside. Combine all the ingredients for the burger patty into a bowl. Mix with your hands until just combined. Be careful not to over mix the burger meat because it will get tough. Divide the burger meat into 6 equal pieces. Roll a piece into a ball and press it between your palms to flatten it. Move your hands around the burger patty, pressing it as your go until you get a disk that is 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Make sure the center is slightly thinner than the edges. Repeat this process for all the burger patties.
Now you’re ready to cook your burger patties! You can use a cast iron skillet, grill pan, or an outdoor grill. Cook the burger patties over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. When there are 30 seconds left of cooking time, place a piece of cheese on top to melt. The burger is done when the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. After cooking your burger patties, toast the inside of your buns until golden brown.
Assemble your burgers! Smear sriracha mayo on the bottom half of the burger bun. Top with lettuce and tomatoes. Add the burger patty, kimchi, and red onions. Smear sriracha mayo on the top half of the burger bun and put it on the burger. Serve with your choice of fries or potato chips!
Tips on how to make the perfect Korean burger
- Make the center of the burger patty slightly thinner than the edges – The hardest part of the burger patty to cook is the center, so making the center thinner ensures that the entire patty is cooked evenly.
- Toast or grill burger buns before assembling your burger – This is an important step because this ensures your burger buns hold together while you’re eating your burger. Toasting it creates a crunchy layer between the bun and the wet ingredients at the center and prevents it from falling apart.
- Customize your toppings – Feel free to use whatever toppings you want. I chose to use kimchi, lettuce, red onions, and tomatoes.
- How to make this recipe gluten free – To make this recipe gluten free, substitute soy sauce with tamari and replace the burger bun with a gluten-free bun or lettuce.
- How to make this recipe vegetarian – To make this dish vegetarian, I would replace the burger patty with a large portobello mushroom. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes on each side.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
Korean BBQ Burger
- 6 hamburger buns
- 6 slices white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup kimchi
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp sriracha mayo
- First prep your toppings. Slice your cheese, red onion, and tomatoes. Set aside.
- Combine all the ingredients for the burger patties into a medium-sized bowl. Mix with your hands until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
- Divide the burger meat into 6 equal pieces. Roll a piece into a ball and then flatten it between your palms. Then work with your hands around the patty to create a circular disk that is 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. The center of the patty should be slightly thinner than the edges. Repeat this process for all the pieces of burger meat.
- Now you’re ready to cook the burger patties! You can use a cast iron skillet, grill pan, or outdoor grill. Cook the burger patties over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. When you have 30 seconds left in cooking time, place a piece of cheese on top of the burger patties to melt. The burger is done when the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.
- After cooking your burgers, grill the inside of your burger buns until they are a nice golden brown color. Set aside.
- Now it’s time to assemble your burgers! Smear some sriracha mayo on the bottom half of the burger bun. Place lettuce and tomato slices on top. Add the burger patty, some kimchi, and red onions. Smear sriracha mayo on the top half of the burger bun and top off the burger.
- Serve with fries or potato chips of choice.