Love fish? And kimchi? Look no further than a panko-crumbed seafood burger chock full of salmon, white fish and prawns, jazzed up with a dose of funky kimchi in the patty and a creamy, spicy and tangy kimchi sauce !
Korean food has recently come into its own on the global food scene, and about time too. I remember when I was first exposed to Korean food many years ago in London while living near New Malden, one of the main Korean-centric suburbs in the area. Like many Korean food virgins, I cut my teeth on bulgogi, bibimbap and japchae. Living near a huge Korean supermarket also had its advantages, opening the doors to the vast array of delights that Korean cuisine has to offer.
Although I have eaten my fill of Korean food, I’m fairly sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of all it has to offer, so don’t take what I say as any expert opinion on the cuisine – nay, I am merely a devotee to its charms. I do however have lots of fun learning how to cook Korean food, and making my own kimchi!
A simple yet popular weapon in the Korean food arsenal is the savoury spring onion or scallion pancake (Pajeon). A variation of this is made with seafood and called Haemul Pajeon.
My kimchi seafood burger was originally inspired in part by this seafood pancake, though it very quickly progressed to some unholy mashup of Haemul Pajeon and a certain fast food chain’s fish sandwich (you know, the one with the clown…).
The heart of the burger combines fish and prawns, leaning heavier on the salmon as it’s an oily fish and so (I think) adds a richer flavour and some fattiness. I’ve introduced some kimchi for added kick alongside the spring onion, and also because you can’t have a Korean meal without kimchi!
In playing around with the pancake concept, I very quickly abandoned the idea of a batter element, which just gets very messy very quickly, so instead I’ve opted for a panko breadcrumb coating. Also, because I was determined for the burger concept to work, I wasn’t keen on the repetition of an overly bready texture between even more bread.
I tried both a breaded and a “naked” variation of the patty and they actually both work well in their own way – the crisp breading lends a nice textural contrast to the burger, while the unbreaded version seemed to come out a little juicier and also picks up a little more flavour dynamic from being browned in the pan. I like the breaded version a little more, but you have the option of leaving it plain if you’d rather not shallow fry. The fried variant is on the left, the plain version on the right.
The whole thing is topped off with a creamy yet tangy sauce studded with more chopped kimchi. It started out more like a tartar sauce, but adding gochujang and ketchup to it means it gains some spice and tang to help pep up the burger.
The amount in the recipe should make around a kilo of mix, enough for six of the seafood burgers (at about 165g or at a little over 1/3 pound each raw weight). Alternatively, those with an appetite can make four big burgers instead!
The rest is simple – sandwich between your favourite bun, throw in some shredded lettuce for a crisp, cool finish, and enjoy! If you like, you can always add some toasted sesame seeds and more chopped spring onion on top as well – in the pictures, the burger was served alongside some sweet potato fries and a cucumber salad for freshness.