KoReuben - The Korean Reuben

Korean Reuben, aka The KoReuben

A while back I made a Korean inspired take on the Cubano, and when I posted it recently someone commented that I should do the same thing with a Reuben. At first I was thinking of just swapping out the sauerkraut for kimchi and calling it a day, but as time went by the idea kept growing in my head and getting more and more complex.

I decided to make my own corned beef for this, and adding gochujang to the cure and boil. I also made my own Thousand Island dressing, swapping some of the pickles for kimchi, and the ketchup for gochujang. If you wanted to take these even one step further, there is a fluffy Korean milk bread that would be fantastic as the sandwich bread, but I was too lazy to go the extra mile.

Curing the Corned Beef

Making the cure for the corned beef

The cure is water, salt, curing pink salt, pickling spice, and gochujang. I use the Meathead recipe as a guide and there is even a calculator to get it right for your size and shape of brisket.

Grab some hard to find ingredients for this recipe-

If you can’t find these near you, This is the pickling spice and curing salt that I use.

Boiling the brisket

You could definitely buy a corned beef and start at this step and the Korean Reuben taste mostly the same.

Boiling the cured meat

After it comes out of the brine, rinse it off and boil it. I added more gochujang to the boil, along with rice vinegar and honey. Would it kill me to smile in the videos?

Thousand Island Dressing with a Kimchi Twist

Making the thousand island dressing

In the Thousand Island, I swapped ketchup for gochujang, kimchi for half the pickles, and gochujaru for the paprika. I have put this on about every meal I have had since I made it. It’s that good!

Putting The Korean Reuben Together

building up the Korean Reuben

Slice the meat after it cools, then warm it up in a hot pan. Rye bread, dressing, lots of meat, then kimchi.

KoReuben - The Korean Reuben

This is a sandwich that dreams are made of!

Sliced angle of the Korean Reuben

Anytime you make a Reuben from scratch, it is amazing, but with the tweaks on this one, it made the classic sandwich feel new to me.

Korean Reuben

So Good! Remember to check out the corned beef guide if you plan on attempting this yourself! There is something about taking 6 days just to make a sandwich that makes it taste extra good when you finally take a bite! And if you love corned beef, check out my favorite way to eat it – on fries!

Variations on the Korean Reuben

I had bought some Swiss cheese which is traditional on a Reuben, but never ended up using it. You could definitely buy corned beef and start at the boiling step. You could also buy sliced corned beef ready to eat and still make an amazing sandwich with the rest of the ingredients! I also mentioned using Korean Milk Bread as the bread for this sandwich. I think that would come out awesome as well. You may want to toast the bread in some butter for that version.

KoReuben – The Korean Reuben

A Reuben sandwich remade with some Korean ingredients and infusions like gochujang thousand island and lots of kimchi.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
curing time5 days
Total Time5 days 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Calories: 1096kcal


Brisket Cure

  • 3 pound brisket
  • 6 cups water
  • 1.5 teaspoons pink salt (prague powder)
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1/2 cup pickling spice mix

Brisket Boil

  • 1/2 cup pickling spice
  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • water

Thousand Island

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup minced pickles
  • 1/4 cup minced kimchi
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon gochugaru
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste


  • rye bread
  • corned beef slices
  • kimchi
  • thousand island



  • Heat the water over high heat until it is steaming. Stir in the salts, pickling spice, and gochujang until dissolved. Allow to cool in the fridge fully before adding it to a zip lock bag with the brisket. For different sized briskets, use the guide linked above.
  • Place the brisket into the fridge and allow to rest for 5 days, shaking the bag around once a day to evenly distribute the liquid over the meat.


  • Strain the brisket from the liquid and rinse the meat to remove excess salt and pickling spices.
  • Place the meat into a large pot and add in the gochujang, pickling spices, honey, and rice vinegar. Pour water in the pot to cover everything. Bring to a simmer and cook about 4 hours until tender but just before it starts falling apart.
  • Strain the meat and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic tightly and store in the fridge until ready to use.


  • Mix all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your personal tastes. Se aside until ready to use.

Build it

  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat with a little oil. Slice the beef thin and add the strips to the pan to warm, about 2 minutes on each side. Be gentle to not break them up too much.
  • Lightly toast the rye bread and spread with thousand island.
  • Pile the sandwich high with corned beef and kimchi. Serve.


Calories: 1096kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 69g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 26g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 234mg | Sodium: 22878mg | Potassium: 1614mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 434IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 9mg

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