Bulgogi Burgers with Kimchi Mayo

Bulgogi Burgers with Kimchi Mayo

When we want the flavors of bulgogi and the convenient outdoor grilling method of a burger, there’s an easy solution: combine them. By sticking with the tried-and-tested burger, glazing it with a spicy soy-ginger-garlic-gochujung sauce, and stacking it with kimchi mayo and pickled daikon radish, you can keep the best of both worlds without offending culinary purists.

This recipe was originally written for Serious Eats.

We’ve all experienced what I like to call “fusion fails”. Two culinary concepts which, taken individually, are perfectly respectable, but in combination create a whole that is … let’s just say less than the sum of its parts. For example, I love fruit, I love cheese, but bits of fruit IN cheese? No thank you. I love bacon, and I’m a fan of vodka, but bacon-flavored vodka (yes, this exists)? I’ll pass. The most successful fusions take two examples which aren’t so far separated on the food spectrum that you have to take a leap of faith that the result is even edible, let alone worth the trouble of combining them. Croissants and doughnuts can at least both be found on the bakery shelf, and thus we have the cronut. And bulgogi, the Korean staple, uses thin strips of beef that are marinated and seared, so why not apply those flavors to a perfectly grilled burger? To be honest, making up names like “cronut” and “flagel” isn’t our forte, so we’re simply calling this the “bulgogi burger”. If you’re as nerdy as we are, you might like to call this a “crossover episode” – where stars from two different shows team up to make a delicious dinner! (This is why we don’t write TV shows.)

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Korean Bulgogi Burritos with Danmuji (Yellow Pickled Daikon Radish)

Korean Bulgogi Burritos

Korean bulgogi burritos – tender soy and sugar marinated beef, charred crisp and wrapped in a burrito with a rainbow of vegetables. A delight for the palate … and the palette.

We always strive to make sure a recipe tastes good. That’s the brass ring of home cooking. If it also looks appetizing, that’s a pretty nice goal to achieve. We’ll admit, though, that cooked meat tends towards the … there’s no better way to say this … brown part of the spectrum. It’s just a fact of life. A dish that pops all over the color wheel isn’t something you tend to encounter much past childhood jello desserts. That’s one reason we’re particularly proud of these Korean bulgogi burritos. Besides the fact that they’re insanely, addictively delicious, they’re also delightful to look at. There’s yellow, purple, red, green – and all without resorting to artificial coloring. Let’s dive in.

Korean Bulgogi Burritos with Radish Pickle
Serve Korean bulgogi burritos with Gochujang sour cream (or use Sriracha), kimchi, limes and cilantro

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Bulgogi (Korean Grilled Beef) Lettuce Wraps

Bulgogi (Korean Grilled Beef) Lettuce Wraps

Bulgogi is a Korean dish of meltingly tender, thinly-sliced beef seasoned in a delicious soy and sugar marinade. We serve it in lettuce cups with lots of bright vegetable side dishes. 

I was a pretty picky eater as a kid. If I could smother something in ketchup it was usually safe but I wasn’t what you would call adventurous (no fish of any kind, nothing mushy). Kids are so weird though. My favorite after-school snack was crackers smeared with cream cheese, sprinkled with garlic powder. I thought I was such a gourmet. Matt liked condensed milk sandwiches. And weirdest of all, my brother’s favorite snack was smoked oysters dipped in Thousand Island dressing. This was when he was ten, and no, we didn’t live on the set of Dynasty.

Kimchi
Kimchi (at least the classic version) is spicy fermented napa cabbage.

Anyway, the point is that I was a picky little brat except when it came to Korean food. I wouldn’t eat mashed potatoes for all the money in the world but give me seaweed and a bowl of kimchi and I was set. In fact to this day, my comfort food is toasted seaweed with rice, avocado and kimchi.

My favorite Korean dish is Bulgogi (in Korean, literally “fire-meat”) which is very thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in a delicious sweet soy mixture and then grilled or pan-seared. For some reason I always thought of this as a complicated restaurant-only dish. I was wrong. Turns out Bulgogi is not only delicious, it’s also super easy to make.Bulgogi (Korean Marinaded Beef) Lettuce Wraps

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