Korean Turkey Burgers with Kimchi and Marinated Vegetable Salad


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.

  1. Preheat grill or skillet to medium-high.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Everyone: What is your favorite Korean dish?

Ann Arborites: What is the best Korean restaurant in Ann Arbor?

10 thoughts on “Korean Turkey Burgers with Kimchi and Marinated Vegetable Salad

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