Yes, I’m back with yet another veggie burger. If you’ve been visiting this blog for a while, you know my veggie burger dependency is well-documented as are my thoughts on a veggie burger’s legitimacy to the burger moniker. So I won’t waste your time by perching on that particular soapbox again. Instead, I’m going to speak about a decision that plagues me whenever I slap a veggie burger into a pan – bun or no bun? I opted for no bun for today’s Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers and I’m going to over-explain my reasons for making this crucial decision. You’re excited, I know you are.
Now, I want to make it clear that when it comes to regular ol’ burgers, I’m team bun all the way. I’m not trying to cut carbs or give up on gluten. Carbs and gluten are my favorite things in the world. But when it comes to veggie burgers, buns can be a bit much.
Most veggie burgers rely on starchy ingredients to stay together. Grains, beans, and/or potatoes are key when striving for a flippable veggie burger. So within the burger itself, you have all the starch a single meal needs. I’m not the type to serve garlic bread with a side of mashed potatoes, so why would I wrap a bun around a burger that is 75% potato?
So what to do with a veggie burger? The bun feels like carb overkill, particularly when it comes to these Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers. These veggie burgers contain potatoes, panko breadcrumbs, AND rice. But can I call a veggie burger a burger if there is no bun? Haven’t I bent the rules far enough already? I mean, a veggie burger is already so far removed from an actual burger that when you take away the bun what about it actually makes it a burger?
In the end, I decide if chains like In-n-Out can offer lettuce as a bun for their burgers, veggie or otherwise, then I can wrap my Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers in lettuce and call them burgers. Naming food is largely arbitrary anyway, right? Please just agree with me. I know I am living in a gray area, but I like to think I’m thriving here. But enough about definitions, let’s move on to more delicious things like what these burgers are made of.
These Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers start out with roasted sweet potatoes. I prefer to roast the sweet potatoes because boiling sogs them out a little too much for my taste. The key to good veggie burger texture is the correct balance of moisture. You’re not doing yourself any favors if you add moisture to your potatoes.
To this sweet potato foundation, kimchi, corn, serrano peppers, and furikake are added. Everything is seasoned with a few glugs of soy sauce and further reinforced with egg, panko breadcrumbs, and steamed rice. The whole mess is divided into patties, lightly fried in a little oil, and wrapped in a sheet of gim. From here the patties are swaddled in a couple of butter lettuce leaves and served alongside ssam sauce. It should be noted that although numerous Korean ingredients are used in this recipe, there is nothing authentic about this recipe. I just let my tastebuds drive here and they find Korean flavors utterly compelling.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers with Butter Lettuce Wraps. Loaded with umami and textural heavy-hitters, these lettuce-wrapped veggie burgers are next-level delicious. And even if you don’t consider them burgers, you will love them.
Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers with Butter Lettuce Wraps
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp doenjang
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Kimchi Sweet Potato Burgers
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ear corn kernels cut from the cob
- 4 serrano peppers thinly sliced
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup cooked Jasmine rice
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup kimchi coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp furikake**
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp neutral oil I used canola oil
- 12 sheets gim (Korean roasted seaweed)
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1 head butter lettuce leaves separated, washed and dried
For the Ssam Sauce
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Burgers
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle each potato with a generous pinch of salt and wrap tightly in tin foil. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and roast for 1 hour or until fork-tender.
- Unwrap the potatoes and slice them down the middle. Let cool. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin and place it in a large bowl. Discard the skins.
- Add the corn, peppers, scallions, egg, rice, breadcrumbs, kimchi, soy sauce, furikake, and black sesame seeds. Use your hands to evenly disperse and fully integrate the ingredients. Using a ⅓ cup measure as a guide, form the mixture into 10-12 patties.
- Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the sweet potato patties until crisp and golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- While the patties are still hot, wrap a sheet of gim around the base of each patty. Top each patty with slices of avocado and wrap them i 1 or 2 lettuce leaves around them. Arrange the burgers on a platter and serve immediately with ssam sauce on the side.