Just the idea of a beef bulgogi burger sounds delicious to me.
The quarantine opened my eyes to barbecue or more specifically open fire cooking from other countries.
Along with Japanese barbecue, Korean barbecue is something I get a bit giddy for. Although I'm relatively new to Korean food since we don't have any Korean restaurants where I live, I've read lots on cooking it and especially like Korean beef.
What is beef bulgogi?
Bulgogi or fire meat is a Korean dish made by grilling or roasting thin slices of marinated meat. Typically beef or pork.
Many of the videos I've watched of people eating Korean barbecue have them cooking typically tough cuts of meat tableside on small grills.
Many of these cuts normally take hours of slow cooking to get tender. But there must be some magic in bulgogi marinade because these thin slices of meat cook up hot and fast and appear to be both toothsome and tender.
This is especially true for chewy cuts of beef like the short rib. The meat when grilled and served with lettuce wraps has amazing flavors with nuances of brown sugar and black pepper.
The first few times I tried making traditional bulgogi at home I was surprised that It looked quite similar to the Korean barbecue I'd seen on YouTube.
Why does the marinade make my tough meat more tender?
There are two reasons bulgogi meat is tender.
The first is that some of the ingredients in the marinade are natural meat tenderizers.
Some marinade recipes call for seemingly random fruit to be added. Both Asian pear and Kiwi are common and known to include enzymes that are natural meat tenderizers. Another one is pineapple. Although less typical, pineapple has the same effect on meats as well.
Marinades including natural fruit for meat tenderizing are typically quick marinades and the meat should be cooked within less than 24 hours of marinating or else it can get mushy.
The second is the way that the meat is sliced
The meat is cut into very thin strips, only slightly thicker than deli meat. It's sliced so thinly so that it can cook quickly on the tableside grill.
But the meat is also sliced across the grain.
Slicing across the grain is essentially making the length of the muscle fibers shorter. Much shorter. Having less of the strong muscle to bite through results in a much more tender bite of meat.
What flavors are in Korean beef bulgogi?
Beef bulgogi is often marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic. It's not uncommon to see thinly sliced green onion, white pepper, sesame seed, Asian pear or kiwi, and even gochujang in the marinade.
Its flavor is best described as similar to teriyaki but not quite as sweet. I'm also excited to try other meats like ground pork, and even turkey for this burger.
Is bulgogi marinade hard to make?
The marinade is not all that hard to make, but you do need to have some specialty ingredients on hand.
For this recipe, I'm trying Omsom, a seasoning base that eliminates the need for me to gather all of the specialty ingredients.
Omsom comes in a large packet and you add it to your food prior to cooking. In this case, I add the Korean spicy bulgogi starter to just about a pound of ground beef before forming the beef into burger patties.
One of the things I appreciate about using Omsom meal-starters is that I don't have to go hunting for specialty ingredients or buy a whole bottle of something when I'm only going to use a small amount.
Omsom has partnered with a variety of chefs and restaurant owners who have dialed in the flavor profiles, similar to how these foods are served in their restaurants, allowing you to get that same restaurant taste in your home.
Beef Bulgogi Burger Recipe
- Burch Barrel
- Jealous Devil Maxx Charcoal
- 12 oz ground beef
- ¼ cup green onion sliced
- 1 packet Omsom spicy bulgogi base
- 3 burger buns
- Light a chimney of Jealous Devil Maxx charcoal
- While your charcoal comes to temperature prepare your burger meat
- Add ground beef to a large bowl
- Add Omsom spicy Korean bulgogi starter to ground beef and use your hands to combine
- Add green onions to seasoned ground beef
- Divide into three equal portions and press into patties
- When the charcoal is ignited and ashed over, spread the briquettes out evenly in the Burch Barrel or in a charcoal grill
- Place GrillGrates over the lit charcoal and allow them to come to temperature for 10 minutes
- Place the burger patties on the GrillGrates and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side
- If desired, toast your burger buns
- Serve immediately