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Bulgogi Burgers with Kimchi Mayo

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Author: Emily Clifton, Nerds with Knives


For the danmuji:

  • 1 1/2 cups 355ml water
  • 1 1/2 cups 355ml unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup 100g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 15g kosher salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 15 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound 450g daikon radish, peeled and cut into thin rounds

For the Bulgogi Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup 120ml soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 20ml gochujang (spicy Korean red pepper paste)
  • 3 large cloves garlic grated or minced (about 15g)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon 15ml rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup 50g brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 10ml toasted sesame oil

For the Kimchi Mayo:

  • 1 cup 215g mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons 30ml kimchi brine
  • 1/2 cup finely diced kimchi 100g
  • 1 teaspoon 4g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 15ml toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small garlic clove grated or minced (about 4g)
  • 2 scallions finely chopped (about 40g)
  • 1 1/2 pounds 680g fresh ground beef chuck (about 80% lean)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for brushing the grill
  • 2 tablespoons 10g toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 sesame seed buns split
  • 2 cups about 200g finely shredded red cabbage


  • Make-ahead (at least a day if possible) danmuji: Mix water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic turmeric, peppercorns and bay leaves in a medium pot and bring to a boil, stirring until the the sugar is melted. Turn off the heat and add the radishes. Let cool to room temperature (1 to 2 hours). Transfer pickles and brine to an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator. Pickles will last up to a month or so.
  • To make the sauce: Mix soy sauce, gochujang, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and brown sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened enough to coat a spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoon sesame oil and let cool. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • For the Kimchi Mayo: add mayonnaise, kimchi brine, kimchi, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions to a bowl and mix until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Form beef into 4 patties, about 1/2 inch wider than the burger buns. Press with your thumb to make a slight depression in the center to account for bulging as they cook. Season generously with salt and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  • Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place burgers directly over hot coals, cover with vents open, and cook, turning occasionally, until burgers are well charred and the centers register 110°F on an instant-read thermometer for medium rare or 120°F for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.
  • Brush burgers on both sides with bulgogi sauce and continue cooking, flipping and brushing occasionally, until they register 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium. Remove from grill and brush with more sauce on both sides until well glazed and coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Toast burger buns over grill until light golden brown. Spread bottom and top buns with kimchi mayonnaise. Divide half of cabbage over bottom buns. Top with cooked burgers. Brush with more bulgogi sauce. Top with remaining cabbage, close buns, and serve.
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