From wasabi Kit Kats to jellyfish ice cream, Japan is not shy when it comes to experimenting with flavor. It’s not surprising then when they transform rice into a burger bun.
The rice burger was created in 1987 by the Japanese fast-food chain MOS Burger. It’s made by pan-frying packed rice shaped into a bun and adding a burger paddy or any topping you like. In this recipe, I’ll keep it simple and use chicken teriyaki.
I chose this recipe because I need new ideas for my bento (lunchbox). I’ve recently been making the same recipes, so it’s time to upgrade my Japanese cooking skills. Will the rice keep its bun shape, or will it crumble after just one bite? Read below to find out!
- 300g of boneless chicken thighs with skin
- Vegetable or canola oil
For teriyaki sauce
- 1 tbsp of mirin
- 1 tbsp of sake
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of sugar
For rice buns
- 360g of cooked short-grain rice
- Sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce
- One pinch of sugar
Directions for teriyaki chicken
- Even out the thickness of the chicken thigh by butterflying it.
- Preheat the vegetable oil in a frying pan.
- Add the chicken with its skin side onto the pan. Cover it with a lid and cook it for six minutes on low to medium heat.
- Once the skin is brown, remove the pan’s excess oil using a kitchen roll.
- Mix all the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a small bowl, then add it to the pan. Once the sauce starts to simmer, spoon it onto the chicken.
- Remove the chicken as soon as the sauce starts to thicken. Then, cut it into about one centimeter long thick slices. Once done, mix it into the pan with the teriyaki sauce. Turn off the heat.
Directions for the rice bun
- Cover a scoop of rice using a plastic wrap, and then shape it into a ball. Flatten it out gently with the palm of your hands. You can use an egg shaper from a ¥100 store to get a consistent bun shape.
- Preheat a frying pan and add a little bit of sesame oil.
- Fry the rice bun in the pan on low heat for four minutes. Flip and fry the other side for three minutes. Don’t shorten the frying time because this helps your rice buns keep their shape.
- Combine sugar and soy sauce, and then use a brush to spread on both sides of the rice bun.
Putting it together
- Put the lettuce, teriyaki chicken, and mayonnaise on top of one rice bun. Add the other rice bun on top. And voilà, your chicken rice burger is finished.
- You can serve it with any side dish you want, but I kept it basic and just boiled some carrots that I cut like french fries and used sesame dressing as a dip.
How did it come out?
Surprisingly, the rice bun didn’t fall apart when I took a bite. Toasting its sides really helped to keep it intact. The bun’s crunchy and coarse texture somewhat reminded me of scorched rice or the slightly burnt rice at the bottom of a cooking pot. In my country, the Philippines, this is the part of the rice that we usually don’t eat, so I was initially turned-off by its texture.
However, the more I chew the rice with lettuce, chicken teriyaki, and mayonnaise together, the more I don’t mind the scorched rice bun because it doesn’t feel dry compared to my first bite. The chicken’s juiciness and the mayonnaise’s creamy consistency helped moisten the rice bun’s crispy surface.
I unlocked a new ability, motivating me to try more Japanese recipes.
Regarding the boiled carrots, it’s something that I usually make, and I love partnering it with sesame dressing. It just tastes so good! It also doesn’t feel too heavy, which really goes well with rice.
Overall, I had fun making the chicken rice burger, and it gave me the confidence to try out different cooking techniques. At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to make this dish because I’ve never butterflied meat before or made rice buns, but with Google’s assistance and a little faith in myself, I was able to do it! I felt like I unlocked a new ability, motivating me to try more Japanese recipes.
For more meals gone right, check out our Japanese Recipe Adventures.