Grilling Guru Recipe: Bite-Size Bulgogi Burgers

Chef Debbie Lee shares her recipe

[From November 2011]

You might recognize Debbie Lee from her appearance on The Next Food Network Star, but chances are you’re more familiar with the “Seoul to Soul” chef’s Ahn-Joo food truck, which serves up her trademark Korean pub grub throughout L.A. Aside from working on the upcoming brick-and-mortar version of Ahn-Joo, Lee just released her new cookbook, Seoultown Kitchen, which is packed with recipes highlighting her homestyle take on classic Korean dishes. These miniature bulgogi sliders, which are spiked with kimchee aioli and soy-balsamic grilled onions, combine classic Korean ingredients with the finger-food friendly form of a mini-burger. Mok ja! (Eat and enjoy!)

Bite-Size Bulgogi Burgers

Nowadays, I don’t know anyone who does not love sliders—and everyone enjoys my special twist to the All-American classic. I guarantee that if you make these little guys, you will have an empty platter every time! Ask your butcher to slice the steak and grind rib-eye scraps to make the ground beef.

Serves: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as an entree
Prep time: 20 Minutes
Cook time: 40 Minutes

1/2 pound rib-eye steak, sliced deli-thin
1/2 cup Ginger-Soy Marinade (see below)
1 cup Coke or other cola
1 pound ground rib-eye steak
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil or steak fat, for seasoning grill
2 slices gouda, quartered
2 tablespoons butter, melted
8 brioche slider buns, or Hawaiian dinner rolls
8 bamboo toothpicks

For Ginger-Soy Marinade:
1/2 yellow onion, cut in quarters
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cola
1/4 cup sesame oil

For Balsamic-Soy Onions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, julienned
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

For Kimchee Aioli:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Napa Kimchee, drained and finely chopped
2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Sea salt and white pepper to taste

1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the rib-eye steak, Ginger-Soy Marinade, and cola. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the Balsamic-Soy Onions: Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and warm for 1 minute. Add the red onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the onions caramelize until they attain a shiny sugary texture. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Next, make the Kimche Aïoli: In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, Napa Kimchee, vinegar, and garlic. Pulse and then drizzle in the sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4. Form 8 hamburger patties with the ground rib-eye, about 1/2 inch larger than the diameter of the brioche buns. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
5. Cook the marinated rib-eye steak on the grill or grill pan, turning constantly with a spatula, for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Scrape any residue from the grill with a grill brush and season it again for the beef patties.
6. Cook the beef patties on one side for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Flip over and place a piece of gouda on each patty. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the burgers reach desired doneness and the cheese has melted. Remove from heat and let rest.
7. Using a pastry brush, butter both sides of the brioche buns with the melted butter. Toast on the grill for 1 to 2 minutes before assembling the burgers.
8. On the bottom bun, spread a dollop of Kimchee Aioli, and then place a patty on top. Slather with some Balsamic-Soy Onions and add some rib-eye steak. Spread another dollop of the Kimchee Aioli on the top half of the brioche bun and place the bun on top of the steak. Repeat to create 8 burgers in all. Spear each burger with a bamboo toothpick through the middle. Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately.