"A Day in Tokyo" recipe + pairing | Katsu Burger

By Vinomofo
4 months ago
9 min read

The humble schnitty is truly worldwide - no more so than in Tokyo, where you’ll find it reimagined in the various, delicious styles of protein cooked katsu-style in cutlets. This recipe for a katsu burger from the delicious A Day in Tokyo by Brendan Liew and Caryn Ng (available now) made our mouths water and bellies loudly start to demand we get cooking. And whilst we were at it, it seemed only fair to let you in on our pairing tips (plus a couple of in stock recommendations too).

Pairing tip: "The majestic burger rarely gets elevated to the heights of wine pairings (and that’s a crying shame in and of itself), but this is no everyday fare; a Panko crumb, spiced beef patty on a milk bun requires a libation to match. Look at acid when pairing Katsu – bristling acidity sets the palate alight and heightens the impact of the spice, while the freshness counterbalances the boldness of the beef. Riesling (a tried and true ‘go to’ in the food pairing game) will fit the bill, as will anything fizzy. Traditional method sparkling will sit neatly alongside the light, pillowy texture of the milk bun, too." Pete, Wine Buyer.

Kilikanoon Mort's Block Riesling 2022

We’re not always all about the numbers, but sometimes they speak for themselves. In this case: 100% hand picked, 100% Watervale, 96pts from James Halliday, and ageing potential beyond the next 10 years. Those, mofo, are pretty good numbers. You’ll get the citrus driven palate, sure. But what we have here goes well beyond that linear crisp style; it delves into green apple, honey, white blossoms and granitic minerality. This is a little waxy and weighted, it coats the palate aiding in a long and boisterous finish. We’re ticking all the boxes on the scorecard for this pairing.

Sumarroca Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2019

Bodegas Sumarroca are right in the heart of cava country in Penèdes, just outside of Barcelona. They are masters at merging tradition and modernity, you’ll see the history right here in the 21st century. This Brut Cava has spent a massive thirty-six months on lees gaining complexity, and boy does it deliver. It’s dry and softly aromatic, with grapefruit and guava on the nose, and green apple shining through on the palate. A dream with this dish.




The filling for this katsu burger is menchi katsu, a deep-fried minced (ground) meat and onion patty that was first created at a yōshoku (Western-style) restaurant in Tokyo during the Meiji era (1868–1912). The panko coating keeps the juiciness of the minced meat in, with fragrant onion and crisp cabbage accentuating the texture and flavour. The burger itself is quick to make, though the patties need to be frozen for 1–2 hours in advance. 

In Japan, keep a look out for menchi katsu in butchers, often found in shotengai (neighbourhood shopping streets). They sell the delicious fried patties and croquettes piping hot and ready to eat (just be sure to stay in the seating area of the stall while eating; walking and eating is considered impolite).


½ onion, finely chopped 

75 g (1 cup) finely chopped cabbage, plus ¼ cabbage, finely shredded

1 tablespoon salt, plus extra to taste

300 g (10½ oz) minced (ground) beef (30% fat  is recommended)

60 g (1 cup) plus 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

3 eggs

1 tablespoon milk

150 g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

neutral oil, for deep-frying

4 Milk bread rolls (page 216) [see below] or store-bought burger buns

mayonnaise, to serve

Burger sauce

200 ml (6¾ fl oz) mirin

150 ml (5 fl oz) sake

100 g (3½ oz) tomato ketchup 

150 g (5½ oz) hatchōmiso (see glossary)

100 g (3½ oz) oyster sauce

100 g (3½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

150 g (5½ oz) akamiso  (red miso paste)

40 g (1½ oz) dijon mustard

1 To make the burger sauce, combine the mirin and sake in 

a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium–high heat. Boil until the aroma of alcohol has dissipated or the liquid is reduced by half, then add the remaining ingredients, along with 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of water and cook, stirring, until the sugar and miso dissolve. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge, where the sauce will keep for up to 1 month.

2 Combine the onion and cabbage with the salt and place in 

a colander for 10 minutes to draw out water. Squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer the vegetables to a large mixing bowl.

3 Mix in the minced beef, 2 tablespoons of the panko and 

1 egg until well incorporated, then season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into four patties and place on a lined baking tray. Freeze the patties for 1–2 hours to set their shape and make them easier to crumb. 

4 To create the crumbing mixture, whisk the milk and the remaining eggs in a bowl until homogenous. Place the flour on a large plate, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Place the remaining panko on a separate plate and line a third plate with baking paper.

5 Take a patty and coat it in the seasoned flour. Brush off any excess and dip the patty in the egg mixture, followed by the panko, making sure the patty is well coated in breadcrumbs. Transfer to the lined plate and repeat with the remaining patties, then place in the fridge until you are ready to fry.

6 Fill a large, heavy-based saucepan one-third of the way with oil. Heat over medium heat until small bubbles form on the surface of a wooden chopstick inserted into the oil – approximately 160°C (320°F). Deep-fry the patties for 5 minutes each and drain on a rack. 

7 Split the burger buns in half and toast in a toaster or under the grill (broiler).

8 To assemble, lay the four bottom buns out on a clean work surface. Place a patty on each of the bottom buns and top with the burger sauce, remaining cabbage and mayonnaise. Finish with the top bun and serve immediately.



Our Australian chef friend, who lives in Japan, once made sourdough bread for his Japanese wife and her family. 

He couldn’t easily find the kind he ate back home, and missed the rustic, country-style loaves. He is a good baker, but we can’t say for certain that his wife and her family were charmed by his efforts. The Japanese are completely smitten with milk bread, you see, and it’s worlds apart from the chewy loaves and hard crusts typical of European breads.

Milk bread is soft, white, sweet and fluffy: the perfect foil  for a multitude of fillings, from cream, custard and red bean  to katsu (crumbed and fried cutlets; page 186), fried noodles (see page 121) and curry (see page 127). It is also delicious eaten on its own.


220 g (11/2 cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting 

165 ml (51/2 fl oz) milk

50 g (13/4 oz) caster  (superfine) sugar

10 g (1/4 oz) salt

4 g (1/8 oz) dried yeast

60 g (2 oz) butter, at room temperature, diced

neutral oil, for greasing


220 g (11/2 cups) strong flour 165 ml (51/2 fl oz) water

2.5 g (1/8 oz) dried yeast

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

1 Start by making the preferment. Mix the ingredients together, then cover and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.

2 The next day, put the preferment in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the butter and oil. Knead on low speed using a dough hook for 5 minutes. Scrape down the side, add the butter and knead for another 10 minutes, or until the dough is very elastic, scraping down the side of the bowl every 2 minutes.

3 To make a loaf, when the dough is ready, scrape down the side of the bowl again, then cover and leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (To make rolls, skip to step 12.)

4 Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into three even pieces. Form each piece into a smooth ball, then cover and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

5 Meanwhile, lightly grease a 2.8 litre (95 fl oz) lidded loaf tin with oil.

6 Lightly flour your work surface. Turn one rested dough ball over onto the work surface so the smooth side faces down. Using your hands or a rolling pin, stretch the dough to roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper, or about 20 cm x 30 cm (8 in x 12 in). Fold the left side of the dough over two-thirds of the dough. Press down to remove any large air bubbles, then fold the right side all the way over to the left edge.

7 Take the top of the dough with both hands, then tightly roll from top to bottom to create a log. Seal the excess dough by pinching it together, then place, seal-side down, in the loaf tin. Repeat with the remaining two dough balls.

8 Slide the lid on the loaf tin and leave in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

9 When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the bread for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 165°C (330°F) and bake for another 15 minutes.

10 Remove the loaf tin from the oven, carefully remove the 

lid and turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

11 If using the bread for sando, use it within 2 days. It will be fine as toast for up to 5 days.

12 To make rolls instead of a loaf, after step 2, punch the dough down and shape into 12 evenly sized rolls. Place on a baking paper-lined tray, leaving a 10 cm (4 in) space between each roll. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size.

13 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). 

14 In a small bowl, beat 1 egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of milk to make an egg wash.

15 Pour 250ml (1 cup) of water into a metal baking tin and place on the bottom of the oven. Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes, or until the rolls sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool before using. The rolls will keep for up to 5 days.

This recipe is from A Day in Tokyo by Brendan Liew and Caryn Ng, published by Smith Street Books, $39.99, available now.

Photography © Alana Dimou

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