Lemons Lemons are one of my favorite flavor enhancers but you need to be careful of the white pith. If you cook the pith, it turns very bitter. Cooking the rind or pulp is fine but never use the pith or seeds. I remember discovering this disturbing fact cooking chicken piccata for the first time. I thought I could enhance the flavor by cooking lemon slices in the sauce but instead I got a bitter taste I couldn't correct with sugar.
My Favorite Pan My favorite pan is a twenty dollar cast iron pan. I remember vividly how my step-father coveted his iron pan and warned us about not using soap to clean it. Seasoned and maintained properly, an iron pan can last forever. It is better than any non stick pan and far more durable. It's thick base holds heat better than any pan in my arsenal and prevents food from burning by dispersing the heat.
I first had a kimchi burger about ten years ago. I can still remember chomping on that burger with just a bun... no ketchup, no mayonnaise, no lettuce and no tomato. It was that good. Okay, I had two burgers, lol. I couldn't help myself. I have since created my own version, with much less sugar than most recipes. I'm not a big fan of sugar except for balancing the acidity of tomatoes in spaghetti sauce or fostering bark creation on slow roasted ribs. Kimchi burgers also need sugar to balance the acidic nature of the fermented cabbage but I felt other recipes simply contained too much.
Chop the kimchi into small pieces, much like you would for onions being added to a ground meat mix. Too large and the burger falls apart. Too small and you don't get a hit of flavor offered by a larger piece of pungent kimchi. I tend toward the larger chop cause I like chunks rather than a homogeneous mix of ingredients. The choice is yours and how you like your burgers. Just a little friendly advice :)
Mix all the ingredients together with the ground beef. In your zest to mix the ingredients perfectly, don't overwork the meat. If you mix too much, the fat in the meat will start to break down, the juices will release and the meat will be compacted, making a tough burger. Mix wisely so the ingredients are well distributed but not so much that you end up with a dense burger. Once done, I like to let my burgers and the ingredients meld in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you have the time, a couple hours is great.
Roll the burgers into balls, again, careful not to overwork the meat. I prefer to mash the burgers on the grill rather than form perfect patties. Once a burger is inside a bun, you can't see it any way so who cares if it is perfectly cylindrical. When you get good a smashing the burger with your hand or spatula, it will be fairly round anyhow.
Heat your indoor grill or thick bottomed pan on medium high. When the surface is really hot, add oil and smash your burgers on the surface in one fell swoop. It takes practice but smashing once prevents additional overworking of the meat. Even worse is smashing the burger during the cooking process. If you get an oddly shaped burger, fix it right away. But don't nervously press down on your burger during the cooking process as it will expel the juices.
Cooking burgers on a well heated pan or grill produces a crust. Crust equals flavor! Don't throw your burgers on a cold pan or you won't get that beautiful color and they will tend to be over cook. These burgers tend to leak a lot of juice so the faster you cook them the less likely you will end up steaming them. Crowding your burgers can also lead to the steaming process so leave as much room between each burger as possible. Most pans can hold only four good size burgers at a time. Try two pans or an indoor grill if you need faster burger production.
Add some crispy twice fried french fries and a dill pickle and you have yourself a fantastic weekday meal. I don't add much to the burger itself. Just a little lettuce, some mayonnaise and slice of red onion. There's so much flavor in the burger itself, there's no need for a special sauce or ketchup. Besides, ketchup just ruins a burger in my humble opinion.
Mix the Meat
Mix the ground beef, kimchi, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and brown sugar. Be careful not to overwork the meat. Store in the fridge at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
Roll and Smash
Heat a thick bottomed pan or indoor grill on medium high heat. Roll your burgers into eight equal balls. When the pan is good and hot, add oil and smash the burgers on the hot surface. Smash once to prevent overworking the meat.
Cook the burgers till they are crusty on both sides. Crust equals flavor.
Assemble the kimchi burgers with a little mayonnaise, some lettuce and a slice of red onion.