Bulgogi Burger and a Birthday Month


Korean Bulgogi Burger recipe is at the end of this post. Please scroll down.

I have an odd love/hate/hate/love/hate/hate/hate relationship with the month of June. That is, of course, assuming one can even have a relationship with a month. Really, one can’t – or can one? – especially when one always writes about oneself in the generic first/second person singular. There is a common conception that when one does that, it is a sign. A sign of what, one does not know, but it is a sign.

June makes me think of…the girl who picks the bad crab. Beaver’s mom. Gloomy days that burn into 90 degree margarita afternoons. The longest day of the year.

June makes me think of the annoyingly rhymeful Hallmarkism, Dads and Grads! Don’t forget Dads and Grads! Don’t forget to buy the two worst gifts in the world, neckties and monogrammed pens! I don’t know how guys feel about ties, but please. Please! I was a graduate far too many times than is healthy for the normal person. I have way too many pens. Yes, I love them all, especially because they were well-meant gifts from people I love. Yes, I love every single pen that reminds me of who I am whenever I forget my own name. Oh crap. What’s my name, again? Oh, right! It’s Sarah, just like it’s imprinted here in 14 karat gold filigree calligraphic olde English Shakespeare script for $10.99 plus $1.99 per letter on my pen! Sarah. Thank Gaaawd I have this pen or else I’d never remember who I am.

Just give me Uniball Micro (my favorite pen) and the cash instead, okay?

June makes me think of weddings. *spit* I will not go into how I feel about weddings today because I am sure my feelings about weddings will be made bridal registry Waterford Crystal clear in a few days when I have to go to one that I wasn’t even invited to. I am not a Wedding Crasher. That would be way too much fun. I am worse. I am Wedding Second String. Just wait. It’ll be fun.

June makes me think of lots of things, the last of which I care not to bring up, but I will. I must, because it is in the title of this post, and once it’s in the permalink of the post, you can never go back!

June makes me think of…


June makes me think of…my birthday.

I actually do love June. It’s the first month of vacation from school. It’s the first month of summer. Despite the necktie- and mortar-and-pestle-shaped ice cream cakes, I actually do love celebrating Dads and Grads with backyard barbecues and pool parties. I don’t like the wedding part, but we’ll just ignore that. Unfortunately, I have a melodramatic, hateful, wishful, painful, pathetic moment in June called my birthday that ruins the whole month. My birthday! My god**n mother effin’. Day. Of. Birth. June 21, 19..uh…19, um…1984. Okay…next paragraph, quick!

And that is why I love/hate the month of June. I love June, but it’s ruined by my birthday. I love/hate my birthday.

I love birthdays. I love celebrating the day that someone is introduced into his or her crazy delicious life, and perhaps, when appropriate, celebrating that he or she has survived another crazy delicious year. Cake. Presents. Party! I love birthday parties. Okay, and I luuuuurve birthday cake. Even the kind from the grocery store bakery.

The sad thing is, as much as I love celebrating other people’s birthdays, I have a hard time celebrating my own birthday. I always feel…weird. I feel weird about asking other people to celebrate little ol’ me. Maybe it’s a girl thing. Or an Asian thing. Or a first-born, Asian girl thing. No one should pay that much attention to me, right?

And yet, I feel that way, but I don’t. I just think I feel that way. Because why else would I post about it on a blog that my hundred million adoring fans will read?!?! Of course I want to draw attention to myself! It’s my birthday everyone!

Clearly, I haven’t therapeutically dealt with my real feelings about my birthday yet.

As I was growing up, no one really cared about my birthday. A June birthday is a tough thing for school-aged children. By the time my late-June birthday came around, we were already out of school for vacation, so there would never be a party in homeroom. Okay, there were some years when I went to school somewhere that had school in session until late late June, but that is rare. I think I got a birthday party in school maybe once. Or maybe it was more than once an I have selectively blocked it out of my memory because Mom’s bringing oriental rice cakes instead of normal cupcakes to share with my Wonder White class was just too traumatizing an experience.

But since school is out, a June birthday is awesome! You can have a birthday party! With a piñata!

No. You see, there’s this thing called “camp.” All my friends went to “camp.” I however, did not go to camp, because I don’t know. It was never an option. I do know. I did, indeed, go to camp. I went to the UTSA (University of Texas, San Antonio) computer camp. My Dad never let us play the piano because we had to learn to type, and we never went to normal by-the-lake-weave-God’s-Eyes-carve-magnets-out-of-tree-bark camp. We went to computer camp. That kind of makes me want to cry for how sad it is. But, I will save that hour of therapy for another day. The point is that since all my little friends were away at camp, I had a birthday party with…my baby sisters. Geez, it is all coming out now, isn’t it?

And of course, there is the aging part of birthdays, which never bothered me before. Never. I used to not care. Seriously. I had the Fountain-of-Youth syndrome. Part of it is that I didn’t look older. I am Asian. I already look ten years too young, so “aging” was a joke. When I turned 30 *ahemcoughcough* a few years ago, I joked about being 29 forever. I joked about not wanting to reveal my age, the way some women refuse to reveal their age after 30, because all women are supposed to care about their age, right? I joked, but I didn’t really mean it because I never felt old. I never felt like I was a

But this year, I feel it. I feel the aging. I mean I never felt it before, but this time, it’s like doing it for the first time. I feel it. It hurts.

*sigh* I am old. And I look old.

Oh well. What do you do? You certainly can’t fight time. You can fight The Time, if you throw on some shoulder pads and mousse you hair into a flock of seagulls with a gheri curl, but you cannot fight time.


So I focus my attention on those other things in June. Father’s Day, graduations, other birthdays, all of which will eventually lead to one thing: barbecue. And that is where I will unveil my Bulgogi Burger which won’t sweep the Build-a-Better-Burger Challenge for which it was originally concepted because someone failed to mention that California residents cannot enter until after I had gone and spent the better part of a week testing and eating and re-calibrating and eating again. (Sutter Home! Jerks! You should have told me earlier!)!

Oh well. I will enjoy my Bulgogi Burger at home. Maybe on my birthday.

And please, if you live outside California, feel free to poach this recipe and use it to enter the competition and crush the rest of the competitors and their silly little “American” burgers into the white hot coals of their grills. Someone may as well get something, like $50,000 (!!!), out of all the hard work and research I’ve done in creating it, which incidentally, isn’t even a new idea because McClownburger’s serves Bulgogi Burgers in Korea.

God, I hate June.

The Bulgogi Burger Recipe that Won’t Win $50,000 for Jobless, Bitter Sarah

If you know Korean food, for goodness’ sake, use your favorite bulgogi/galbi marinade, but if you’re not, this is a good starting point, though I wouldn’t turn around and use this for real bulgogi because it has no sugar.

In small bowl, combine ¼ c. soy sauce, 2 T. rice wine, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger, about ¼ c. finely chopped onions, about half a green onion chopped, and a dash of black pepper.

Sprinkle over 1 lb. ground beef, mix together with beef, then set aside to “marinate” for at least 30 minutes.

Shape meat into burgers (This makes 2 burgers, plus a baby burger that I ate right from the pan as a test). Grill, pan fry, or broil until your desired done-ness. I like my burgers medium rare, but I misjudged my cooking time and they were close to medium.

Toast buns, then top with red leaf lettuce, which in Korean, is “sahng-choo,” and is the same type of lettuce used to make rice and bulgogi wraps. I topped my burgers with onions that I had marinated in the same sauce and grilled.

As a condiment, mix about 2 Tbsp. goh-choo-jahng (Korean red pepper paste) with a pinch of sugar and enough water to thin it to the consistency of ketchup. Use this as the condiment on the burger. Serve with something suitably “Oriental” as a side. Like “who-rench who-ries,” or Spicy Thai Kettle Chips.

If you’re more prepared than I was and actually have a giant jar of fermenting cabbage in the back of your refrigerator, then you can top the burgers with some chopped kimchee. I wishwishwish I had done that. I will next time.

** a year ago today, we all hailed the queen of cuisine **

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie June 19, 2006 at 5:52 am

Hey, happy early birthday!!! Can I send you some cake?


2 anni June 19, 2006 at 6:13 am

Bon Anniversaire! Feliz Cumpleanos!
Where’s the party? Cristal, anyone?

C – E – L – E – B – R – A – T – E ! ! !


Anni :-)


3 Pamela June 19, 2006 at 7:16 am

Happy Birthday!!!


4 Jen June 19, 2006 at 3:53 pm

That burger looks so mouth-watering. I am tempted to start munching on my monitor, but Happy Birthday for this month.


5 Anonymous June 19, 2006 at 3:55 pm

Oooh, a Cancer? No wonder I like reading your blog. :) :)



6 KT June 20, 2006 at 12:12 am

Hey, It’s almost my birthday too! Congrats … perhaps we are some kind of similar astrological sign or some mystical crap like that. :)


7 onetomato June 20, 2006 at 3:11 am

my sis’s birthday is on the 22nd. a cancer, sweet nurturing, slightly neurotic little crab she is..happy almost b-day sarah…have you decided on what you want to do yet?


8 sarah June 21, 2006 at 9:37 pm

stephanie: i LOVE birthday cake, but i’d much rather have the father’s day cake you made! *faints just thinking about it*

anni: thank you! cristal! though, i may have to join p diddles and jay z on their little ban…how about some veuve clicquot?

pamela: thank you!

l.a.c: can you send your comment in to the editor, leslie brenner?

and no, never played soccer. i do, however, have a slightly unsightly scar from field hockey.

jenjen: the burger was pretty good, and thanks!

melfox: TOOOOOTally a crabby, cranky cancer. HAHA. though i am right on the cusp with gemini, so i guess that explains the fickleness. and the inability to make decisions.

kt: happy early birthday!

onetomato: right after mine! though i am VERY neurotic and definitely not sweet. :)


9 lindsay February 1, 2007 at 11:37 pm

june birthdays = so awesome.
asian burgers = even more awesome.

soy + sesame have been my secret ingredients in burgers for years: i will have to thrown in the ginger + rice wine.

i like your blog: it’s fun :)


10 Anonymous May 26, 2007 at 4:28 am

You talk too much, woman! I had to *endure* 5-6 full window scrolls before I could get to the first line of the recipe. :O

Kimchi on burger patties–never occurred to me to try that before. Will have to whip something up this weekend and see how it goes…

Happy b’day in June! :)


11 SteamyKitchen August 27, 2007 at 6:19 am

Happy birthday…1 year and 2 months late.

I didn’t think to use the chili paste as condiment instead of ketchup. Thats brilliant


12 Julian Hsu May 14, 2008 at 4:04 pm
13 Promotional Pens November 10, 2008 at 6:12 am

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
My birthday is in June too but then june is hot and sticky. However there are more things to do.
Anyway, Asian burgers are amazing. I went to travel in asia and i hadnt eaten actual western food forever. So i felt like a burger. Therefore i took my boyfriend and we went out to a restaurant and saw a picture of a burger on the menu and we walked in. Those were the best burgers i had ever eaten my whole life.

Loved your post,


14 Lil July 2, 2009 at 8:43 am

I live in Korea and recently found a ‘caters to foreigners’ restaurant that has awesome bulgogi burritos with ground beef. They are so delish that I googled it and found your recipe tonite that I will try soon. Who-rench Who-ries. Hilarious~


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