Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Korean-Style Burgers with Sesame-Brined Cucumber

If you love Korean flavors like I do, turn your next grilled burger into something special with the bold, sweet, and spicy tastes of this delicious part of Asian cuisine.

Here, I mixed ground sirloin with the Korean hot red pepper paste called gochujang, along with aromatic ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds. (For more about gochujang, see Baked Chicken Wings with Spicy Korean Barbecue Sauce.) Brown sugar adds a little sweetness to the burgers to balance the savor and spiciness of the other ingredients.

Instead of pickles, make a quick sesame-flavored brine to park some cucumber slices in for about an hour. They’re the perfect topping for a fantastic Korean-style burger.

Note: I pan-grilled the burgers, but, of course, you can take them outside for even smokier char-grilled flavor.

Serves 2


For the Cucumber
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame paste
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chile flakes
  • 2-1/2-inch piece of seedless cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
For the Burgers
  • 2/3 lb ground sirloin
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (or other hot red pepper paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • peanut oil, for brushing
  • 2 kaiser (or other crusty) rolls
  • tomato and onion slices, and spicy mustard for serving (optional)

For the Cucumber
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through chile flakes) in a medium bowl, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, salt, and paste. Add the cucumber slices and submerge as much as possible. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Drain before serving.
Cucumber Slices and Brine  
Cucumber in Brine
Brined Cucumber
For the Burgers
  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients (through sesame seeds) in a bowl. Form the mixture into 2 patties, making a slight indent with your thumb in the middle of each. (This helps keep the patties from puffing up too much as they cook.)
Beef Mixture 
Patties Ready to Grill
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with peanut oil.
  2. Grill the burgers until just cooked through and juicy inside, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate or board and let rest 3 minutes.
Patties Beginning to Grill 
Grilled Burgers
Serve the burgers on the toasted rolls with (drained) brined cucumber slices on top, along with other accompaniments, if desired.


  1. This sounds really good. A great way to get out of a burger rut. I love the addition of ginger here. Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend.

    1. I always like experimenting with burgers---keeping the "traditional" in mind, of course! :)

      Thanks much for your comment, and for the privilege of sharing recipes on The Tumbleweed Contessa.