The Heart and Seoul of Korea Burgers

Accolades 2014 Winning Recipes
Serves 6
Pairs well with:


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

I have always been inspired by Korean flavors. In this recipe I have incorporated some of my favorite Korean ingredients to make a sublime burger. It includes gochujang (a spicy pepper paste) plus something that is bizarrely popular in Korea – Spam. I can promise you that you haven’t tasted a burger as unique and delicious as this!



  • 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil
  • 1/4 cup minced roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 cup candied peanuts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  • 1/3 cup gochujang
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise


  • 8 ounces spam, cut into thin, 1-inch long matchsticks


  • 2 pounds ground beef (75% to 80% lean)
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  • 6 King’s Hawaiian original hamburger buns
  • 6 leaves red leaf lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plain rice cakes (roughly 1-inch pieces)


  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
  2. To make the peanut basil slaw, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Drain before serving.
  3. To make gochujang mayo, combine all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. To make the crispy spam, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spam and cook for 5 minutes or until crispy, stirring occasionally. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. To make the patties, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.
  6. Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to lightly toast.
  7. To assemble the burgers, spread a layer of gochujang mayo on the cut sides of each bun. On each bun bottom, place a leaf of redleaf lettuce, some crispy Spam, a few pieces of rice cake, a patty and an equal amount of peanut basil slaw. Add the bun tops and serve.