Long before Roy Choi, Seoul Sausage or the millennial corn cheese craze was the original Korean/American hybrid. A post Korean war stew that was born out of scarcity, Budae Jiggae (budae = Army, Jiggae = stew) is a true hustler’s entree that appropriated surplus American ingredients left behind (think Spam, American cheese, hot dogs, etc.) with a rich base made from anchovy, kimchi and and one of the Korean secret weapons…gochujang.
I not only enjoy eating this dish but preparing it as well, and the thought of re-appropriating an appropriated recipe creates a cool American to Korean to American paradox. Fuck your authenticity.
Like most stews, Budae Jiggae is best cooked in large portions in the biggest pot you have to develop some real depth of flavor. Add in a few friends, a couple bottles of soju and Nelly’s “Country Grammar” and you have a recipe for a good Friday night.
When solo though, the thought of preparing a dish for eight people feels not only daunting, but excessive. I don’t want to spend 45 minutes preparing dinner for myself when all i want to do is curl up on the couch and cry to the soothing sounds of Pure Moods Volume 1.
A recent hack i started implementing when feeling lazy is to boil the soup base from Shin Ramyun with all my meat products and various accoutrements. Add noodles, cook until desired consistency, then finish with American cheese and various herbs. Add a fried egg if you trying to get your Bobby Flay on.
Not as deep or complex as what Grandma Kim makes but hey, what more do you want from a white boy? Literally takes all of 15 minutes. Schwing!
I’m a 28 year old, American born white boy who grew up in the 90’s. Between Blockbuster video and Ninja turtles i have consumed many a burger. You could say I know a thing or two about meat and buns (no pun intended). A lot of “chefs” these days are riding the coat tails of the gourmet, super stacked burger issued in by the Umami Burger trends of the food world. Trash. I have strong opinions about burgers. Strong opinions i believe to be absolutes. You probably will disagree with me and that’s okay, you’re not perfect. Below is my personal canon for a properly made burger…
Buns. Fuck brioche. There, i said it. I am so tired of places trying to hype up their burger game by throwing it on a brioche and parading it around in adjectives on their menu. Brioche sucks for burgers. Why? It is too airy and delicate. It can’t absorb all the meaty, fatty juicy goodness that oozes from a delectable patty. Two bites in the bottom portion is soggy and falling a part like a wet paper towel. They work well with egg sandwiches or delicate proteins i.e. chicken salad, tuna, lobster roll, etc. but burgers? Nah dude. fuck off with that French shit.
Best bet is to go with a classic sponge bun, sesame bun or even a nice potato roll. I’ll throw in King’s Hawaiian rolls for sliders. Although they are extremely sweet they can do wonders with a little caramelized onion and aioli set up.
Cheese. People give me shit for this one constantly but i am sorry, it is true. To have a true cheeseburger, one that stands the test of time and says Fuck Off in the face of all beef adversaries it must contain American cheese. Yes i know it is fake yellow plastic or whatever. Possibly causes cancer. Who gives a shit. It tastes delicious and the melt-ability of two slices of American cannot be replicated. The closest thing to be found is probably Muenster.
I get it. I like fancy cheeses too. I’ll do a port and stilton, i dabble with an aged sharp cheddar. But in the end, processed, dyed yellow American cheese reigns supreme. It oozes into every crack and crevice of a patty like a teenage wet dream. Sorry Red Leicester, pack your British ass and go home.
Patty. Best quality beef you can find. Cuts vary as long as there is a decent amount of marbled fat. Chuck is considered the golden standard but if you want to get all Wylie Dufresne with the beef, be my guest. Seasoned with a generous amount of salt, pepper and formed into a patty. Nothing else. I will repeat, NOTHING else.
If you feel the urge to throw in chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce or for God’s sake garlic powder and paprika just walk away from the kitchen for a few minutes. Drink a beer, kiss your partner, maybe go watch a couple scenes from Mrs. Doubtfire and come back to your senses. Realize you’re a dumbass and had a momentary lapse of reason. ‘Nuff said.
Accoutrements. Onions and pickles are a REQUIREMENT. I don’t care if its raw, grilled or caramelized but onion must be present. Same for pickles. Play with some b&B, dill, sweet…whatever is giving you a chubby. But if those two ingredients are not involved i want nothing to do with your burger and most likely nothing to do with you.
Tomato and lettuce are a nice touch when in season and/or of good quality. Lettuce should be used with caution because of its high water content. Too many leaves and it begins to be reminiscent of a bad salad. The main purpose is to provide crunch and a bit of fresh, earthiness to cut through the fattiness.
I’m over arugula, frisee, pickled jalapenos, hatch chili, etc. All fun for a minute but one hit wonders.
Q Lazarus had one hit song featured in The Silence of the Lambs but where are they now? Case rested.
SEND ME ALL THE HATE MAIL YOU WANT BUT ABSOLUTELY NO AVOCADO.
Sauces. I tend to lean towards ketchup, mustard maybe mayo but this is the one area i feel is the most flexible for creativity. I’ve had some bangin’ aiolis, BBQ sauces, wine reductions, caper spread, etc. and feel done right, any sauce that balances flavors can be a great addition to meat and bread. Balance is key kids. Balance.
Although it looks good in photos, don’t be like this guy. Micro greens? Avocado? What the fuck is this. Probably mixes flax seed in his burger patty too. FAIL.