The traditional flavors of Korean bulgogi (barbecued beef) come together here in meatball form, thanks to soy sauce, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, and garlic. Chinese steamed buns are an unexpected treat; they’re squishy, slightly chewy, and all-around wonderful. Look for the buns in the freezer section at Asian markets; aim for the folded buns, sometimes labeled lotus buns or Chinese hamburger buns. And if you can’t find them, you can stuff the meatballs into standard slider buns.
How to Make It
Bring vinegar, 1/3 cup water, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, pepper, and 2 garlic cloves to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high. Remove from heat; add cucumber slices. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, stir together sirloin, panko, egg white, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, and remaining grated garlic clove in a bowl until well blended. Shape mixture into 16 meatballs, a scant 1 tablespoon each.
Heat a large skillet over medium. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Move meatballs to side of skillet. Add oil, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce to center of skillet; cook until sugar dissolves and sauce is glazy, about 1 minute. Stir to coat meatballs.
Layer 3 well-moistened paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Place frozen buns on prepared plate; cover with 3 more well-moistened paper towels. Microwave at high until warmed, about 1 minute and 30 seconds, checking for doneness every 10 seconds after heating for 1 minute.
Divide cucumber slices, lettuce leaves, and meatballs evenly among buns.