Knockout Korean “Soul” Burgers with Kimchi Ketchup, Drunken Daikon Slaw, and Peppery Sesame Bacon

Accolades 2011 Finalists
Serves Makes 6 burgers
Pairs well with:


Hard to pronounce yet easy to drink, this wine combines lychee fruit and white peach flavors with a hint of spice.

This burger was inspired by my father-in-law and his memories of Korea, where he was stationed.


Kimchi Ketchup

  • 1/3 cup mild white kimchi
  • 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean chile sauce)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Drunken Daikon Slaw

  • 1 medium daikon
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and julienned
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup white rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Peppery Sesame Bacon

  • 12 slices thick-cut uncured bacon
  • 2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or other coarse salt


  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 green onions, ends removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pear nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds


  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  • 6 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • 2/3 cup melted butter


Heat a gas grill to medium-low.

To make the ketchup, combine the kimchi, tomatoes, sugar, ginger, gochujang, garlic, vinegar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Heat a fireproof skillet on the grill. Pour the oil into the skillet, add the ketchup mixture, and simmer gently until reduced to about 1 cup, 25 to 30 minutes; add water if necessary. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.

To make the slaw, trim and peel the daikon, then cut crosswise into thirds and julienne into thin, 1/4-inch-wide strips. Trim the bulb ends off of the green onions, cut crosswise into thirds, and julienne. Place the daikon into a large bowl and add the onions and mirin. Let marinade for 15 to 20 minutes, and then drain and add the jalapeño and carrot. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss until lightly coated. Cover and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high.

To make the bacon, cut the slices in half crosswise and place on a slotted rack in a fireproof pan on the grill. Cook until crispy on both sides. Remove the bacon from the heat, baste with the sesame oil, and sprinkle with the pepper and salt. Place on paper towels and set aside.

To make the patties, combine the ginger, garlic, onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, pear nectar and red pepper in a large chilled bowl. Add the ground pork and mix until well blended, handling the meat as little as possible. Divide into 6 equal patties. Combine the salt and sesame seeds and sprinkle the patties on both sides with the mixture before grilling.

Brush the grill rack with peanut or vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium. Remove the patties from the grill to rest. Brush the buns lightly with the melted butter and place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place a patty on each of the bottom buns and top with four pieces of bacon, a generous spoonful of the ketchup, and an equal portion of the slaw. Add the bun tops and serve!