Sweet & Spicy Korean Kalbi Burgers

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

I grew up near Flushing, NY and watched the neighborhood progress from one immigrant community to another.As signs advertising traditional Jewish foods gradually gave way to ones written in exotic Korean and Chinese characters, I became taken with the exciting new Asian influence in my neighborhood. Flushing became a gateway to a whole new array of Korean and Chinese tastes and traditions. This burger is a tribute to the ever-changing American immigrant experience and its contribution to our culinary landscape.


1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
4 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 c. soy sauce
2 Tbs. sesame oil
6 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 lb. ground beef (80% lean, if available)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. white pepper
1 c. mayonnaise
3 Tbs. Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
2-3 Tbs. vegetable oil for brushing the rack
6 Kaiser rolls, split
Sesame oil for brushing rolls
6 leaves red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
1 –1 1/2 c. kimchee, shredded


Heat coals in chimney. When white ash appears, arrange coals for grilling over direct heat.
While coals are heating, place pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, 2 Tbs. sesame oil, sugar, and rice vinegar in a food processor and process until completely smooth.

Place beef in a large, non-reactive bowl and mix with 1/2 of the soy sauce mixture (approximately 1 cup), scallions, salt, and white pepper. Gently mix to blend and form 6 burgers, avoiding overhandling the meat.

Mix together mayonnaise and red pepper paste in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Grill burgers over direct heat, turning and basting with remaining sauce, until burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°. When burgers are nearly done, brush insides of rolls with sesame oil and toast over indirect heat until lightly browned.

Place burgers on bottom half of buns. Spread top halves with red pepper mayonnaise. Top burgers with lettuce and kimchee.