Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bulgogi Buffalo Burger (불고기버거)

Bison burger meat fired with bulgogi flavor & nestled in a sticky brown rice bun

Bulgogi Buffalo Burger

If there exists an edible that epitomizes the experience of being an American born Korean raised in Southern California, it is the Bulgogi Buffalo Burger. Imagine a 1/2 lb bulgogi-style seasoned slab of all-organic, grass-fed, free-range American buffalo meat topped with grilled onions, melted cheddar, crisp bean sprouts, crunchy purple cabbage, fragrant perilla leaves, pungent kimchi, and spicy jalapeños nestled between a roasted brown rice bun with a dollop of kochujang ketchup on the side. The bison burger meat is flavored with typical Asian seasonings of soy sauce and garlic but given an unconventional shot of Korean green plum wine, maesil ju. The Bulgogi Buffalo Burger also prominently features kochujang, fermented hot pepper paste and kimchi, spicy fermented napa cabbage- two national Korean foods, according to the Korean government. With your bulgogi, bap, and banchan in burger form, you can manhandle your meal and sink your teeth in the good old fashioned American way!

Meet Buffalo Meat

Buffalo (American Bison) meat is sweeter in flavor and leaner than beef. Bison meat is also healthier than skinless chicken, pork, lamb and even some fish, especially if you consider the mercury levels in fish nowadays. There is little shrinkage in bison meat, and because there is less fat to insulate the bison meat, it cooks faster than beef. Furthermore, in comparison to grain-fed beef, buffalo meat contains 69% more iron and higher levels of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which help promote a healthy metabolism. So, send this buffalo home on the range and then, straight in your tummy

Bulgogi Buffalo Burger Recipe

~ Serves 4 people

Bulgogi-Style Marinated Bison Meat
If you are not eager to march off to a hunting range with a bow and arrow, check whether your local farmer's market carries bison meat or make the purchase online.

2 lbs ground buffalo (American bison) meat
4 large cloves of garlic
6 tsp soy sauce
4 tbs pineapple juice
3 tbs Korean green plum wine, maesil ju
2 tsp ginger juice
1/2 tsp pepper
1. Crush and roast the garlic. Let cool.
2. Force the ginger through the garlic crusher to obtain ginger juice. Mix the ginger juice with roasted garlic and other marinade ingredients.
3. Marinate the ground bison 2-3 hours or overnight.
Kochujang Ketchup
In lieu of ketchup, you can dab some fermented hot pepper paste on your burger. I recommend either O'Foods or Pulmone kochujang for the best quality results. Don’t slather on the kochujang like ketchup, however, because kochujang is much saltier than ketchup. O’Foods is less salty and much tastier than Pulmone but also twice as much in cost.

1/4 cup kochujang
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs green plum wine, maesil ju
2 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Mix all the ingredients together well. Let everyone help themselves.
Mixed Brown Rice (Bap) Buns
The stickiness of the sweet brown rice helps hold the grains together. Inspired by a favorite Korean snack, nurungi, which is the scorched rice at the bottom of the pot, down-home Korean melds with backyard American cooking.

2/3 cup short grain brown rice
1/3 cup sweet brown rice
2 cups of water
4 tsp sesame oil
1. Mix 2/3 cup short grain brown rice with 1/3 cup sweet brown rice, rinse and drain.
2. Pour 2 cups of water and pressure cook rice. Let cool to a warm temperature.
3. Cut about 1 square foot of saran wrap. Place a little over 1/4 cup of rice in the center of the saran wrap, and flatten and compress the rice into the shape of patty. Make sure you pack the patty tight.
4. Pour 1/2 tsp of sesame oil per patty on the pan. You will have 8 rice patties.
5. Cook each patty for 5-7 minutes over medium heat on each side. Do not flip the patty unnecessarily. 7 minutes will produce a more scorched bun than 5 minutes.
Preparing Toppings
Make sure you purchase perilla (kenip) leaves from the Korean market and not shiso leaves from the Japanese market. Korean perilla leaves are larger, heartier, less furry, and gentler in flavor than their Japanese counterparts. Kimchi can be purchased almost anywhere nowadays, including Costco, but I like to go to the Galleria market in K-town and get the kimchi with the raw oysters, croaker, and beltfish.

12 perilla leaves
2 cups young soybean sprouts
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 green jalapeño peppers, sliced
1/2 onion, grilled
2 cups kimchi, sliced
4 slices cheddar cheese
1. Wash, dry, and prepare all the fresh vegetables. Set aside.
2. Grill the onions on the pan with touch of olive oil. Set aside.
Cooking & Assembling the Burger
Bison meat cooks 1/3 faster than regular beef, so if you like your burger medium rare, keep a close watch on the time. As with any lean meat, bison burger meat tastes better not over-cooked to well-done because the meat may become chewy and dry. The basic cooking strategy is: sear on high, then low and slow. Make sure you use a pancake spatula or tongs to flip the meat. Do not agitate or poke the meat more than necessary because the delicious juices are more likely to escape.

Ground bison meat, marinated
2 tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the pan or grill up on high. Use 1/2 tsp of oil per burger patty.
2. Divide the meat into four patties.
3. Sear each side for about 1-2 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook 3-4 minutes on each side.
5. Place the burger meat on top of the rice bun and pile on whatever toppings you desire.

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