I’ve been obsessed with making my own kimchi lately. The first time I tried this powerfully pungent fermented cabbage dish, I admit it was a little much for me. It was my first visit to a sushi restaurant that had a huge Korean influence, and, not expecting anything other than the familiar Japanese fare, it caught me completely off-guard. But over the next few years, I came to adore it, not only for its flavor but for the health benefits, as a naturally lactofermented dish.
I now eat it straight-up as a side dish all the time, and have been experimenting with adding it to various recipes (look for more in coming days). With Memorial Day coming right up, I thought it would go perfectly with a reuben-style burger, with kimchi standing in for the sauerkraut. I added a touch of creamy sriracha mayo to both complement and balance the spiciness, which worked beautifully, especially if you make your own mayo and sriracha!
If you haven’t tried making the olive oil mayo from Melissa Jouliwan’s Well Fed, you’ve gotta try it. I go through about one recipe’s yield a week. Using extra-LIGHT olive oil is the key, so the flavor isn’t overpowering, and you still get gorgeously thick, fresh homemade mayonnaise, with no seed oils or sketchy, processed additives. And I’ve raved before about Nom Nom Paleo’s sriracha – just sublime. Put those two together and you have one heavenly condiment.
Though I usually make my own kimchi, as I was saying, I happened to be out the day of the burger-testing, so I tried the brand photographed in the post, and can vouch that it is an excellent one. Also note, in a lettuce wrap, this whole tangy shebang is perfectly paleo, but serve it up however you like!
Have a fabulous and delicious Memorial Day.
KIMCHI REUBEN BURGERS
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 2 inches fresh ginger, grated with a microplane
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1 cup kimchi, divided
Hand-mix all the ingredients but the kimchi. Take 1/4 cup of the kimchi and chop it finely, reserving the rest for topping each burger. Mix the chopped quarter cup into the burger mixture, and form patties to the size and shape of your choice (I made about 6 medium burgers).
Heat your grill as you usually would and cook to desired rareness/doneness. Let rest, then top with remaining kimchi and a nice schmear of sriracha mayo.
1/3 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1-3 teaspoons sriracha, depending how spicy you like it
I feel a little silly posting this as a recipe, but just in case! Ahem: stir.
UPDATE: Important discovery. If you make the burger mixture ahead of time, DON’T add the chopped kimchi itself until just before cooking. If you make it ahead or save leftover mixture, the meat will gradually start to soften from all the great beneficial bacteria doing its work in there! It’s not bad, just oddly soft. That’s the power of the awesome fermentation at work!
— posted by Anne