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Add salmon kimchi burgers or Chinese beef skewers to your barbecue mix

Plus, try out Armenian grilled pork chops with pepper sauce on the grill.

Chinese Beef Skewers (Niu Rou Chuan).Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

To liven up Memorial Day barbecue, we reimagine the standard mixed grill with inspiration from flavors we’ve encountered in our travels. This includes salmon burgers spiked with Korean kimchi, a spicy, fermented cabbage that boosts flavor while adding crunch. Our beef skewers get a double dose of Chinese spices — first by adding a mixture of toasted cumin, fennel, red pepper, and Sichuan peppercorns to the raw, marinated meat, and later by topping the cooked skewers with the spices to reinforce the layers of flavor. And taking a page from Armenian khorovats (shish kebabs), we marinate pork chops in grated onion and oregano before serving them with saucy charred tomatoes and peppers.

Chinese Beef Skewers (Niu Rou Chuan)

Makes 4 servings


Don’t trim the fat from the beef before cooking; it adds flavor and helps keep the meat succulent. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure to give it at least 10 to 15 minutes to heat before cooking the skewers. This ensures the meat gets a nice surface char without overcooking the interior.

1½ pounds beef flat iron steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips

1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil, plus more for grill grate

2½ tablespoons cumin seeds

2½ teaspoons fennel seeds

1½ teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Chili oil, to serve (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, sherry, soy sauce, and oil. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the spice mix and the grill.

In a small skillet set over medium-low heat, toast the cumin, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the pepper flakes. Process until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix and set aside for use as a topping.


Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals and let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.

While the grill heats, thread the beef onto ten 8- to 10-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over both sides of the meat, patting gently to adhere.

Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and grill until the second sides are also lightly charred, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle both sides of the skewers with the reserved spice mix, then drizzle with chili oil (if using).

Salmon and Kimchi Burgers.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Salmon and Kimchi Burgers

Makes 4 servings

Achieving tender, nicely textured burgers that hold together can be tricky, but we have developed a technique: We process half of the salmon until smooth; this puree helps bind the remaining roughly chopped salmon and the kimchi. If you like, coat the patties with panko bread crumbs before cooking to create an extra-crispy coating, but the results are still delicious without.

Serve the burgers on toasted buns with our quick kimchi-flecked mayonnaise.

¾ cup cabbage kimchi, drained, plus 2 teaspoons kimchi juice


4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, or 1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and quartered, or both

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

12 ounces boneless, skinless salmon fillets, pin bones removed, cut into rough 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon gochujang

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

¾ cup panko bread crumbs (optional)

3 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil, divided

4 hamburger buns, toasted

Lettuce leaves or sliced tomatoes or both, optional, for garnish

In a food processor, combine the kimchi and scallions, then process until finely chopped, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer ½ cup of the kimchi mixture to a medium bowl. Transfer the remaining mixture to a small bowl, then stir in the mayonnaise, kimchi juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; reserve the food processor bowl and blade (no need to clean them). Cover the mayonnaise mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To the food processor, add half of the salmon. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to the medium bowl with the reserved kimchi mixture and stir to combine. To the processor, add the remaining salmon and pulse until chopped, 3 to 4 pulses. Stir the chopped salmon into the kimchi-salmon mixture. Add the gochujang, sesame oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; stir until well combined.

With wet hands, divide the kimchi-salmon mixture into 4 even portions. Form each portion into a 3-inch patty and place on a large plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, to firm up the patties, about 15 minutes.


If using panko, put the crumbs in a pie plate or other wide, shallow dish. One at a time, coat the patties with the panko, gently pressing to adhere and reshaping the patties if needed. Return them to the plate.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium heat, warm the grape-seed oil until shimmering. Add the patties and cook until browned on the bottoms, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip and cook, adjusting the heat as needed, until browned on the second sides, about another 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve on the buns with the kimchi mayonnaise, and garnished with lettuce and tomato, if using.

Armenian Grilled Pork With Pepper Sauce.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Armenian Grilled Pork With Pepper Sauce

Makes 4 servings

To re-create khorovats, or Armenian barbecue, we marinate thick-cut, bone-in pork chops in a mix of onion and oregano, then grill them with wood chips to infuse the pork with smokiness. Bone-in, blade-end pork loin chops are the best cut for this recipe because they contain a good amount of fat, which keeps the meat moist and flavorful; rib chops will work, too, but because they are leaner, it’s important not to overcook them.

The accompanying sauce for the meat was inspired by the charred, chopped, and stewed vegetables we had in Armenia. It’s excellent with any grilled pork or chicken. You will need an 8-inch-square foil pan for cooking the vegetables. To seed the peppers for the sauce while keeping them intact, cut off the stem end, then insert a paring knife into the pepper and cut the seedy core free of the ribs.


The wood chips shouldn’t be soaked before wrapping them in foil. Dry chips smoke more readily, which is desirable for quick-cooking foods such as pork chops.

For the pork chops

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks

3 tablespoons dried oregano

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 10- to 14-ounce bone-in pork chops, each 1- to 1½-inches thick

3 cups fruitwood chips (for smoking)

3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

For the sauce

1 pound plum tomatoes, cored

12 ounces Cubanelle, Hungarian wax, or Anaheim peppers, stemmed, kept whole, and seeded (see headnote)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

12 medium garlic cloves, peeled

4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided

½ teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the oil, onion, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Process to form a coarse paste, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a paring knife, make vertical cuts spaced about ½ inch apart into the fat on each chop. Add the chops to the onion paste and turn to coat, rubbing the mixture into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Loosely wrap the wood chips in a 12-by-18-inch sheet of foil, forming a flat packet that’s roughly 7 inches square. Poke several holes in each side of the packet.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a mounded large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and set the packet on the coals; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, place the packet directly on one burner that will remain on during cooking; turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the grate. If using gas, turn off one burner, leaving the remaining burner(s) on high.

To prepare the sauce, while the grill heats, toss the tomatoes, peppers, and oil in a large bowl. Place the vegetables on the hot side of the grill, then cover and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a disposable 8-inch-square foil pan and add the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the oregano. Cover with foil, poking a few holes in the foil. Place on the cool side of the grill.

Scrape any excess marinade off the pork chops and place on the cool side of the grill alongside the foil pan. Cover the grill, positioning the lid vents over the pork chops if using a charcoal grill. Cook, without lifting the lid, for 10 minutes.

Move the chops to the hot side of the grill and cook, uncovered and turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and the centers near the bone reach 135 degrees or are just barely pink when cut into, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter, place 1 piece of the butter (for the meat) on each chop, and tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slide the foil pan onto the hot side of the grill, cover, and continue cooking until the vegetables and garlic cloves are completely softened. Using a fork, mash the vegetables until broken down but still chunky. Using tongs, remove and discard any large pieces of vegetable skin that did not break down. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, followed by the vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the pork.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.