in this world, there are a few things that were meant to go together. junior high kids and awkward dating, police officers and donuts, mashed potatoes and gravy, Sean Connery and swooning women. the list goes on.
somewhat less well-known than Sean Connery’s romantic exploits is the magical combination of hamburgers and kimchi. i call it the baekche triple, and you’ll never look at a burger the same way.
(quick history lesson for you, just in case you were interested. baekje, also called paekche, is one of the historic three kingdoms of korea. the other two are silla and goguryeo. as a territory, it had a long history of naval dominance and trade with neighboring nations, particularly japan and china. baekje was eventually overtaken by the silla military complex, which allied with tang dynasty chinese forces to gain the upper hand. of the three past korean kingdoms, i always found baekje the most interesting, and it is for this reason that i have chosen to name this recipe after it. anyway…)
- ground meat (i prefer a mix of beef and pork)
- one onion
- a few cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- hot pepper
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- kimchi (the hotter the better in my opinion)
- mung bean sprouts
- sesame seed buns
- mince half of the onion and the cloves of garlic super finely. this is important. if your mince is not fine enough, it can cause your burger to fall apart in the frying pan or on the grill, and that is no good at all. introduce your ground meat to the onion and garlic, and add in a splash of olive oil, hot pepper, a healthy smattering of dried basil and dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. mix it with your hands. be a man, you can clean your nails later if you need to.
- in my humble opinion, here is the trick to a great burger. put your meat in a tightly sealed container of a saran-wrapped bowl and set it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. this allows the flavors to sit and mature, and will make sure that the distribution of spices is complete. while i personally have no problem with an unexpected mouthful of garlic, most people do not find it desirable. don’t skip this step.
- while your meat is chilling, steam your mung bean sprouts with just a tiny bit of vinegar. you can also boil them if you like. if you are super ambitious and want to take it to the next level, you can try making moyashi itame instead. no matter what, remember that the key to cooking mung bean sprouts well is high heat and short time. if you boil them, give them literally only one or two minutes. if you steam them, maybe two or three. if they have no crunch and are limp and sad, you might as well through them away. that is the purpose of the sprouts in this recipe: the crunch.
- toast the buns, get out the meat, and get ready for the show. take out your meat, form it into patties. i personally prefer the thin patty with an unmeasured perimeter because it allows for a more unfinished, irregular look. fry your burgers in a pan with a little bit of olive oil or on a well oiled grill to prevent sticking. a good rule to observe is that you should only flip a burger once. any more than that and you risk losing a lot of the juices, which is what makes burgers in a fry pan so darn good to begin with.
- stack three patties on a sesame bun, add the pièce de résistance (our good friend kimchi who has been waiting patiently on the sidelines), top off with your steamed mung bean sprouts, and finish with some super thinly sliced fresh onions.
- get your socks knocked off.
goes excellent with:
orange juice. the acidity compliments the flavor of the kimchi super nicely, and more than anything it is extremely refreshing as a break from heavier foods (like triple-stacked burgers).
beer. beer and burgers, need i say more? in this situation, wheatier beer is better than hoppy. the bitter of hops can overpower your taste buds and change the flavor of the meal itself. wheat beer tends to be brighter and more refreshing.
makgeolli. don’t worry, i’ll tell you what it is. also known as makoli, this liquor is about 6 to 8 percent alcohol by volume, and is generally made from fermented rice or wheat. it is sweet and cloudy, and excellent served hot. can be tough to find, but man it is worth it. very similar to japanese amazake.
sweet potato fries. i don’t need to add much to this one. what doesn’t go well with sweet potato fries?
serves 2 enough food that they might have to lay down after.