This Burger Goes Bulgogi


Korean barbecue is like a drug. Once you’ve tasted those savory, sweet and sour flavors of the grilled beef called bulgogi, it’s hard to just say no. You crave more, like, all the time. I’m even smuggling those traditional Korean flavors and textures into backyard cookout items. This Bulgogi Burger with Barely Pickled Daikon and Carrot Slaw puts a moderately spicy spin on the classic American dish of meat between bun – sometimes with cheese.

1½ pound ground beef
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot red pepper paste), plus 2 teaspoons, divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 scallions, minced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 small daikon radish, julienned or shredded
1 carrot, julienned or shredded
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 sesame seed hamburger buns or English muffins

In a large bowl, combine the gochujang, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, minced scallions, sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Gently mix in the ground beef until all elements are incorporated.

Divide the seasoned meat into 4 equal portions then form 1-inch-thick patties. Press two fingers into the center of each burger to form a dimple – this prevents the burger from seizing upwards when exposed to heat. Cover the burgers and set them in the refrigerator while you make the other components.

Combine the shredded daikon radish and carrot in a medium bowl, then add the cilantro, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Toss all ingredients together until coated and set aside at room temperature.

Add the mayonnaise, to a medium bowl with ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and remaining 2 teaspoons of gochujang. Mix until the mayonnaise reaches a uniform pink color.

Remove the burgers from the refrigerator and heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Slather each bun half with 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise and grill for 1 minute to 90 seconds, or until grill marks are achieved. Remove the buns and set aside.

Gently place the burgers (dimple-side-up) on the grill or grill pan, making sure to leave at least 2 inches between each one to prevent steaming. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until the top of the burger looks very wet, then flip the burgers over and cook for an additional 3 minutes. This process should yield a medium-rare burger.

Place the burgers on the bottom buns then top with the daikon and carrot mixture and more mayonnaise if desired.