Hail to the chef: Korean style BBQ burger with The Nuclear Option

A Labor Day tribute to his free form foreign policy from the peoples' grills to our Confounder in Chief

Manny Howard
September 3, 2017 7:30PM (UTC)

It was only 27 days ago now when President Trump weighed in on an increasingly delicate quadripartite negotiation over armaments on the Korean peninsula with the august pronouncement, "North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States."

From the relative safety of his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, the president continued. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."


This Labor Day, to celebrate our nation's bold electoral decisions, what say we meet our guests with a little fire and fury of our own?

I'm an ambitious attendant to the grill. It's not unusual to find me manning the Weber right through the winter. In fact, I keep the path shoveled on the back porch no matter how deep the snow gets. Still, Labor Day marks the official end of grilling season, and since this summer we have had occasion to recall Nuclear Winter, let's celebrate our survival (being respectful of the victims and survivors of the deluge in Houston) by embracing what scares us most.

Sam Sifton is the Food Editor at The New York Times; he's a steady hand in tough times and he runs the tightest recipe shop in Christendom. He's one of the only people I'll let work my kitchen next to me, and he's a cool head at the grill. Over the years, I've seen him work every variety of cooking fire, some of them burning half a noble oak in one go.


So when it came time to seek out a fitting tribute to 45's hot talk at Kim Jong-un, I turned to Sifton. Because of his desk's proximity to the newsroom, he's also one of the first calls I'd make if relations between our two countries suddenly went sideways.

Here is a coherent burger policy adapted from a recipe for Bulgogi sloppy joe by Sifton for The New York Times.

For Bulgogi marinade:

  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 4 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Asian pears, peeled, cored and puréed in a food processor (substitute any pear variety)
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups apple juice

Step 1: In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, sake, mirin, pear, onion and apple juice. Whisk vigorously until sugar dissolves in the marinade.

Step2: From the bowl, reserve 1 cup of marinade to brush over burgers while they cook on the grill. Store in a separate container in the refrigerator until it’s time to grill the burgers.


Step 3: Add six burger patties to the Bulgogi, insuring that all patties make contact with the sauce. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least six hours. Rotate burgers in the bowl to assure equal contact with the marinade.

Step 4: Remove burgers from marinade and cook on a medium high grill. Brush with the reserved Bulgogi marinade while cooking to desired temperature.

Garnish with Boston, bibb or butter lettuce and green onions and, most importantly, serve on a sesame bun (sesame is a yuuuge thing in Korea).


To take your burger to the next level, top with liberal helpings of kimchee. Napa Valley cabbage is a good starting place, but any kimchee will add bright spice to an already robust burger.

Manny Howard

Manny Howard is the author of "My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into A Farm." @mannyhoward

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Entertainment Food Kim Jong-un Nuclear War Nuclear Proliferation President Trump Recipes

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