Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger | Svelte Salivations

The Guardian recently wrote an article titled Crisis in Korea as younger generation abandons kimchi. It's certainly a shocking title, and I panicked internally that there would be no more kimchi anymore. To my relief though, the abandonment refers to the fact that today's generation of Koreans are (unknowingly or not?) consuming kimchi that is imported from China, rather than authentic local Korean-made kimchi.

Interestingly, the article claims that most Koreans are none the wiser that the kimchi they are being sold and served is often Chinese (due to it being cheaper). That's good news to me because, having never been to Korea and eaten kimchi made by a true Korean, there would be no way for my taste buds to know the difference, and I can happily buy kimchi sourced from anywhere without worrying about an unauthentic taste.

Of course, it is a shame that most exports of kimchi are not from the country of origin, because it is supposed to be the national dish. I can see why the 'traditionalists' are fighting hard to keep kimchi culture going in Korea, and not lose the market to the Chinese giants.

Kimchi | Svelte Salivations

I went to my local Chinese (!) grocery store, and they only sell one brand of kimchi - Chongga. This is actually a product of Korea, and a bit of Googling research led me to understand that it is a massive South Korean company. 

Yay for supporting Korean kimchi! ;)

My usual kimchi-related dishes are kimchi fried rice, kimchi noodles and kimchi pancake. Which are all delicious, but I wanted to try something different.

Fluffy white rice | Svelte Salivations

Apparently there is a new food craze across the pond in New York [citation needed] involving ramen and burgers. While I haven't tried or seen that yet, I've met the rice burger. This was very popular in Hong Kong a few years back, I think due to a Japanese trend? It was even available in Hong Kong McDonald's!

Makiko Itoh at Just Bento and Sonia at Nasi Lemak Lover both show you how to make a rice burger, but recommend you use Japanese short grain rice. I don't have short grain rice at home, and it is relatively more expensive to buy it, so I've attempted (and succeeded!) to make it with Thai long grain Jasmine rice.

Forming rice patties for rice burger | Svelte Salivations

I think the key was to mild it while it was still warm, press it down gently but firmly - really pack it in! - and then to chill it afterwards.

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger | Svelte Salivations

I boost the amount of kimchi filling and give it a bit more substance, I fried some sliced onions and zucchinis with the kimchi. There's room for variation here, add whatever vegetables you've got at home instead - capsicum (or peppers if that's what you call them), carrots, potatoes, leeks...

Or even, for all you people out there who can't survived without meat, add some sliced beef / pork / chicken! It's a burger, fill it with whatever you want!

Just keep the kimchi. That's a must.

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger | Svelte Salivations

Oh, and a runny egg.

It is divine!

Do note though, it isn't the easiest thing to eat. I mean, even normal burgers create a mess, so this one's just the same. Or maybe messier. ;)

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger | Svelte Salivations

Enjoy! And lemme know what you think!

Full recipe-->

Vegetarian Kimchi Rice Burger | Svelte Salivations

Burger re-invented Asian style - with rice and kimchi

Makes 4 burgers. Prep takes a while, give yourself 2 hours, then another 30 minutes to cook.

Get this ready:

  • 2 cups white rice, uncooked
  • 2 zucchinis / courgettes
  • 2 onions
  • 400g cut kimchi
  • 4 tablespoons light soya sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli paste (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Also find yourself a mould (this can be a small springform cake ring, a round tupperware box, the bottom of a shallow largish cup, anything!) and some cling film
Let's get going:
  1. Cook the rice in water in rice cooker (or as per usual).
  2. While waiting for the rice to be done, prepare the zucchinis and onions by slicing into sticks.
  3. Prepare a glaze by mixing the soya sauce, sugar, sesame oil and chilli paste (if using) in a small bowl until everything is dissolved.
  4. When the rice is done, let it cool until warm enough to handle with your hands. Approximately divide it into 8 equal portions (in your mind is fine!). Lay down some cling film in your mould and scoop in one portion of rice. Press it down into the sides of the mould with the back of a rice scooper, spatula or just a regular spoon. Do this quite firmly, you really want to pack it tight, but be gentle too, otherwise you'll break up the grains of rice! Once you're happy, fold over the cling film, lift it out of the mould and place in the fridge. Repeat with all other 7 portions of rice. Let them sit in the fridge for an hour at least.
  5. When you're ready to eat, sauté the zucchini and onions in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Then add the kimchi, mix it all together and let the kimchi heat up. Then take it off the heat. 
  6. Heat up a new pan (or the same one if it's washed) over medium high heat. Remove the rice patties from the fridge and unwrap the cling film from the top. Brush the top with the glaze prepared previously, then flip the glazed side onto a heatproof spatula. Gently move the rice patty from the spatula onto the hot pan (glazed side down). Repeat for as many as you can fit in the pan. You shouldn't need oil, as there's sesame oil in the glaze. Let it fry for 5 minutes or so until the patty starts to colour (gently lift with a spatula to check). Then brush the other side (the side now on top) with the glaze and flip with a spatula to fry that side too. Do that with all the patties!
  7. Then fry up the eggs, sunny side up! Use the remaining oil, over a medium heat. Just crack in the eggs and let them cook for 5 minutes.
  8. To serve it up: place a rice patty on a plate, top with a generous portion of the kimchi filling, add the fried egg, then finish with another rice patty!


  1. That is such a good idea! I love kimchi fried rice and onigiri and this seems like a fusion between the two (by the way, I'll have to try to fill an onigiri with kimchi one day)! I make my own kimchi, so there's nothing very traditional about it. Mine is a Brazilian version! But it tastes pretty good and that's what's important, right?
    Thanks so much for the idea, I'll surely give it a try!

    1. Thanks for letting me know what you think! I hope you enjoy it! I've never made kimchi before, I've always imagined it to be a long and complex process... but I might have to try one day - I would love to have my own kimchi stash at home ;)

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