As much as I love a hamburger, it’s not something I cook at home because there are so many good ones available in Hong Kong. But I don’t mind cooking chicken or fish versions and these two are hearty, easy and delicious.
Chicken karaage rice burger
4 bone-in chicken thighs, about 150 grams each
40ml soy sauce
20ml rice wine
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp grated ginger
1/8 tsp finely ground white pepper
30 grams cornstarch
Cooking oil, for frying
About 800 grams cooked Japanese or Korean short-grain rice
¼ Japanese head cabbage
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice blend)
1 Shape the rice buns first, because they need to be cold before they are pan-fried. Heat the cooked rice, either in the microwave or by steaming it. Divide the rice into eight portions. Line a round mould that’s about 9.5cm in diameter (interior measurements) with cling film, using enough that it comes up the sides of the mould with about 2cm of overhang.
Scoop a portion of the rice into the mould. Press firmly so the rice is shaped into a tightly compressed flat disc that’s about 6mm thick. Grasp the overhang of the cling film and lift out the rice disc. Take the disc from the cling film and place it on a lightly oiled baking tray. Shape seven more rice discs in the same way, then cover with cling film and refrigerate them for at least an hour.
2 Put the chicken thighs skin-side down on the cutting board. Using a very sharp paring knife, slice into the thigh all the way down to the bone. Use the tip of the knife to cut away the meat from the bone, taking care not to slice into the skin. Dry the boneless thighs with paper towels.
3 Roughly chop the garlic. Put the chicken in a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger and white pepper and mix thoroughly. Leave at room temperature for about an hour.
4 Pan-fry the rice buns. Pour oil into a skillet to the depth of about 2mm and place over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the chilled rice discs; you’ll need to cook them in batches. Pan-fry the discs until pale golden on one side, then carefully flip them over and cook the other side, adding more oil to the skillet if needed. Place the pan-fried buns on a clean, dry tray.
5 Sprinkle the cornstarch over the chicken thighs and marinade and mix well. Pour oil to the depth of about 1.5cm into the skillet used to pan-fry the rice buns (no need to wash it). Heat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken thighs until cooked through, turning them over once or twice in the hot oil. Drain on paper towels.
6 While the chicken is cooking, shred the head cabbage.
7 Pile some of the cabbage onto four of the rice buns, then add a zigzag of the kewpie mayonnaise and a light sprinkling of shichimi togarashi. Place a fried chicken thigh on the cabbage, then top with the second rice bun. Serve immediately, with the remaining shredded cabbage on the side.
Fried fish burger
Use whatever skinless whitefish is freshest in the market.
8 thin fish fillets, about 60 grams each and about 8cm in length
Plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting
2 large eggs
Panko, as needed
Cooking oil, for frying
For the tartar sauce:
100 grams mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
1 medium-sized shallot
About 10ml fresh lemon juice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the burgers: 4 iceberg lettuce leaves
1 large sweet, ripe tomato
About 30 grams unsalted butter, softened
4 hamburger buns
1 Make the tartar sauce first. Finely chop the cornichon pickles and mince the shallot. Mix the cornichon and shallot with the mayonnaise and lemon juice (add a little more, if you like), then season with salt and pepper.
2 Run your fingertips over the fish fillets to check for stray bones; if there are any, remove them with kitchen tweezers. Use paper towels to dry the fish fillets, then lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3 Put some flour into one flat dish and some panko into another. Whisk the eggs thoroughly, then pour them into a flat saucer. Pour oil to the depth of about 5mm in a skillet and heat to 170 degrees. Dredge a fish fillet in the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the beaten egg. Coat the fillet evenly with the panko, pressing firmly so the breadcrumbs adhere, then place into the hot oil. Fry the fillets in batches until pale golden and cooked through, turning them over once. Drain on paper towels.
4 Heat an unoiled skillet over a medium flame. Spread the butter in a thin layer over the cut sides of the hamburger buns. Place the buns, buttered side down, in the skillet and cook until lightly toasted.
5 Slice the tomato. Put a lettuce leaf and tomato slice on the bottom buns, then top with two fish fillets. Spread some of the tartar sauce on the top bun and place it on the fish. Serve immediately.