Tag Archives: psychedelic

Tonkatsu burger

Another Japanese post and another one of my all-time favourite dishes, tonkatsu.  For those who don’t know, tonkatsu is a Japanese dish where a pork fillet is dipped in an egg coating, rolled in panko breadcrumbs and fried until golden and crispy.  It’s hugely popular in Japan and is usually served with rice and shredded cabbage or alongside Japanese curry.  It’s also commonly served with a delicious sweet and salty sauce commonly called tonkatsu sauce, but was always known in my house as ‘bulldog sauce’ due to the picture of a bulldog on the brand that my mum would always buy.  I still call it that too.

This recipe combines my love of tonkastu with my love of American fast food to create the Tonkatsu burger.  It’s dead simple with very few ingredients, but that’s the way I prefer my burgers.  Feel free to experiment and add loads of extras.

Tonkatsu Burger


  •  2 decent sized pork fillets
  • Flour for dusting
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cabbage, shredded finely
  • 2 x burger buns
  • Tonkatsu sauce
  • Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese mayonnaise)

Unlike the Austrian schnitzel, the Japanese tonkasu is usually quite thick (about 1 – 1.5 inches thick), but because we’re not slicing this like a traditional tonkatsu, you might need to beat the pork with a mallet down to about an inch if you have a particularly thick cut. Also try to get your pork piece so it roughly covers the circumference of your burger bun.

Set up three shallow bowls or plates in a line – one with flour and a dash of salt and pepper, one with a beaten egg and another with Panko breadcrumbs.  Take the pork and dust it in the flour, then coat the pork in the egg mixture and finally cover in the breadcrumbs, pressing down to make sure it sticks around the whole pork.  Repeat with the other piece of pork.

Heat a decent amount of vegetable oil in a pan so you get at least a centimetre in your pan.  You can test if it’s hot enough by dropping a spare breadcrumb and it should crisp up in about 10 seconds.  When it’s hot enough, carefully place your breaded pork in the oil and let it shallow fry for about 3 minutes or until the breadcrumbs get all golden and crispy.  Turn your pork over and fry on the other side for a few minutes until it’s golden and cooked through.  Take it out of the pan and let it rest of some paper towels for a few minutes.

Slice open two burger buns and lightly toast or steam them.  Place your cooked pork on the bottom half of your burger and swirl on a generous amount of tonkatsu sauce (seriously – the stuff is delicious and you’ll want more).  Top with a good serving of shredded cabbage and top that with a big dollop of Japanese mayonaise before finishing it with the top of the burger bun.

Serve with some homemade chips and an Ahsahi beer.  For another Japanese flavour, sprinkle the chips with nori (seaweed) flakes as seasoning.

Serves 2.

JAM: Happy End – Haru Yo Koi

Happy End - Happy End (1970)

When I think burgers, I think rock.  When I think Japanese rock, I think of Happy End.  Happy End was a Japanese band that only existed from 1970-1973 but were hugely influential in Japan and still today regularly top the ‘best of’ lists when it comes to Japanese bands.  Even if you know nothing about Japanese music, you’ve probably heard Kaze Wo Astumete, which was featured on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.  They fit somewhere between the sweet spot of folk, psych and bluesy rock and they’re well worth checking out.

While their album Kazemachi Roman is probably their most well known (and for good reason too), I’m going to choose a song from their first self titled album.  Prior to this album, Japanese rock artists usually sang in English because at the time that’s what Japanese rock bands had to do to succeed.  Happy End bucked the trend and sang entirely in Japanese, making a turning point in Japanese music when the album was received very well.  Check out the first song on the album, Haru Yo Koi, below:

Their albums are quite hard to come by but if you dig through the right second hand record stores you can find them (I  found 3 of their albums at Licorice Pie Records in Melbourne last weekend).  Otherwise check out discogs for vinyl/CD copies and impress your friends when they come around for Japanese burgers.

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Sunday special bulgogi

Sunday evenings were always something to look forward to when I was growing up because my mum would cook a dish that was simply known to my sisters and me as ‘Sunday special’. It was a delicious dish of sliced beef in a garlicky, sweet soy marinade and served with rice. Even though we ate it pretty much every Sunday we never got tired of it. I later found out that the dish was none other than the classic Korean classic, Bulgogi, and it’s still a staple of my diet today. This recipe that I’m posting is slightly different to my mum’s (she would add mirin and grated ginger and just have it over steamed rice), but there are many ways to get inventive with this.



  • 300g scotch fillet, sliced very thin
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • 60 ml of water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ nashi pear
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Pinch pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1-2 shallots, sliced
  • Sesame seeds
  • Red chilli
  • Cooked rice
  • Lettuce

Mix the soy, water, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowel with the thinly sliced beef. Puree the nashi pear and half the onion in a blender and add this to the beef and marinade mix. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to start cooking, mix the sesame oil in with the beef and marinade. Heat the pan or wok on high and coat with a splash of vegetable oil. Put all the beef into the pan along with the marinade for 3 minutes or until cooked. Slice up the remaining onion and add this to the pan along with the sliced shallots to cook for another minute or so. Take it off the heat and put the bulgogi in a bowl to take to the table to serve immediately.

At the table, take individual lettuce leaves and fill them with a little cooked rice, bulgogi and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced red chilli. For a bit of extra kick, top it off with some chilli sauce (I like to use sriracha sauce) or add some kimchi. Wrap it all up and pop the lettuce parcel into your mouth in one bite. It’s not a particularly elegant way to eat, but it’s so damn tasty that you won’t care.

Serves 2 with leftovers


Shin Joong-hyun

Shin Joong-hyun

For a classic Korean dish, you need a classic Korean song. This one comes from the granddaddy of Korean rock, Shin Joong-hyun from his band Shin Joong-hyun and The Men and is called Beautiful River and Mountains. It’s a deep, spiritual psychedelic rock record of the highest order that could easily sit among the best US and UK bands.  Listen here:

Light in the Attic recently reissued this record in a compilation of the same name along with other classic jams that range from folky pop to bluesy rock that he produced from 1958-74.  It should be easy enough to find in your local record store, but if you’re out of luck you can buy it online here or here.

If you’re after a full mix of Korean jazz, funk and psych to accompany your meal in full, then check out this great mix that DJ Soulscape did for Turntable Lab below:

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