Considering the slew of Korean restaurants that exist in Ann Arbor, I’ve actually eaten very little Korean food in my day. Growing up in a small Midwestern town meant that I was not exposed to the cuisines of many cultures, unless you count Taco Bell and the local Chinese buffet! (Don’t get me wrong – I loved me some cheesy nachos or a big plate of cashew chicken!)
I think my first encounter with Korean food was during my employment in the dining hall of a University of Michigan residence hall, where I served up Bibimbap to my fellow undergraduate classmates.
Now I live in Ann Arbor, have a job that pays more than a dorm dining hall, and am fortunate enough to have access to an amazingly wide variety of dining options. Clearly I have yet to tap into the Korean dining scene, though I did recently try Arirang and had a great experience.
Always on the lookout for something new and different to cook, a recipe for Korean Turkey Burgers in a recent issue of Eating Well caught my eye. But, obtaining the necessary ingredients to prepare this dish was a bit of an adventure.
First, I needed kimchi, “a fermented mixture of cabbage and other vegetables,” per Eating Well. Kimchi was not to be found at the first two grocery stores I checked. Not wanting to stomp the town searching for it, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a very quick and easy version myself. (It retrospect, I realize I could have gone to one of these stores that sell local Ann Arbor company The Brinery’s products.)
Fortunately Eating Well also had a great recipe for Quick Cucumber Kimchi and I just so happened to have everything on hand to prepare it. Well, everything except Korean chili powder, for which I simply substituted crushed red pepper flakes.
My next sought-after ingredient was Korean chile paste (also known as gochujang). I was already planning to use Eating Well’s suggested substitution for this ingredient, but just for fun, I took a peek at my grocery store shelves to see if they carried it. Apparently they do not, at least not yet, or else I missed it. But no problem – I already had all of the ingredients for a substitution on hand.
How weird does that combination sound!? Sweet, salty, heat.
Part of this miso-molasses-Sriracha mixture I combined with mayonnaise to create a unique and fantastic burger condiment. The rest of the mixture was incorporated into lean ground turkey, along with scallions and toasted sesame oil, to create these burgers that I cooked in a skillet over medium-high heat (rather than busting out the grill, as suggested).
To prepare the burgers, I first slathered some of the homemade Korean chili paste onto toasted whole wheat buns.
Then, I added a cooked burger patty, and topped with the homemade cucumber kimchi, which had a crunchy, salty bite. It turned out great!
This is not your everyday burger! I fell in love with the delectable combination of flavors and textures in these “Korean” Turkey Burgers.
Yes I Want Cake’s Marinated Green Bean Salad made for a healthy, tasty side dish.
Red bell peppers, celery, scallions, and steamed green beans, tossed in a simple oil and vinegar dressing with dried thyme = perfection! Also great with lunch the next day.
Loved this meal!
Marinated Green Bean Salad
Recipe from: Yes I Want Cake
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
Recipe from: Eating Well
Korean Turkey Burgers
Lightly adapted from: Eating Well
- 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 8 teaspoons Korean chile paste* (see Tip), divided
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
- 4 small whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
- 12 slices English cucumber [I skipped the cuke slices since I used cucumber kimchi!]
- 1 cup kimchi [store bought, or homemade Quick Cucumber Kimchi]
*Tip: To make a substitute for Korean chile paste, combine 2 tablespoons each white miso and Asian-style chile sauce, such as sriracha, and 2 teaspoons molasses.
- Preheat grill or skillet to medium-high.
- Combine turkey, scallions, 5 teaspoons chile paste and sesame oil in a medium bowl; gently knead together. Do not overmix. Form into 4 burgers, about 4 inches wide.
- SKILLET: Cook in a preheated skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat for approximately 4 minutes per side, OR, GRILL: Oil the grill rack, Grill the burgers until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 3 to 4 minutes per side.Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and the remaining 3 teaspoons chile paste in a small bowl. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with 2 teaspoons of the mayonnaise mixture, 3 slices cucumber and 1/4 cup kimchi each.
My rating: 8.4/10