Udon and Spring Onion Burger

udonburgerpMost of you probably regularly eat noodles and ground meat (not necessarily together), but would you ever think of combining them in a burger patty? I certainly wouldn’t and was sincerely surprised that such a crazy idea can yield an amazingly luscious burger. A huge amount of green onions – though less surprising – might also contribute to the final taste results, but in my opinion, the presence of chopped udon noodles is what makes the difference.

For those who have never heard of udon, it’s thick wheat flour variety of Japanese noodles, usually eaten in light soups. I am particularly fond of their chewy, slightly bouncy texture and always have a package in stock, but I would have never even dreamt of including them into a burger. Actually, I stumbled upon this recipe while looking for new ideas to use the abundance of Japanese green onions growing on my balcony. My long search led me as far as Kawaga prefecture’s official website and their filmed recipes.

Kagawa is apparenty famous for its udon (sanuki udon, to be precise) and its inhabitants are said to be addicted to these noodles (if you saw the film “Udon”, you know what I mean…). I have no doubts that only big passion for udon could have led to the creation of such an unusual idea. Ms Toshiko Tsukuda, from Kagawa prefecture’s research council group, presented this recipe (click here), aimed at using local green onion, under the name of (roughly translated, please correct me, if I’m wrong) “grilled green onion and udon surprise” (びっくりネギ焼きうどん). I was completely blown away by the idea of chopped udon in burger patties (not to mention being able to use a huge bunch of my green onions), so I bought the beef and prepared them as soon as possible. The burgers were incredibly juicy, surprisingly light and I particularly appreciated a slightly chewy typical udon “touch”.

As it often happens, I have modified this recipe already at the first cooking session. I changed the ingredients’ ratio (mainly increasing the beef amount), added crushed garlic clove and ground cumin to spice up the beef a bit and I also decided to glaze the burgers with teriyaki sauce (or rather my own, less sweet version of it). For the original recipe, check Kagawa Prefecture’s official website (unfortunately I haven’t found an English version, the video is in Japanese only, I think). (UPDATE: Thanks to Hiroyuki, I have found out this recipe is almost identical to Udon Gyoza, the specialty of Takatsuki).

TIPS: The patties are quite delicate, but surprisingly, they keep well the shape, if you form a ball in your hand, roll it a bit to make sure the ingredients “stick” and then slightly flatten it. Of course they should be turned very carefully.

If you use the “fresh” precooked udon (not the dried noodles), you don’t need to warm it or boil before chopping and including into the patty. Just unpack it and chop.

My teriyaki glaze is only slightly sweet (compared to the standard teriyaki glaze), so add more mirin and/or sugar if you want it typically sweet.

You can use any green onions or chives you have. I find Japanese green onions more delicate than Western ones.

Preparation: about 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3):

200g (about 7 oz) cooked udon or “fresh”, precooked udon: you don’t need to cook this one here; just take it out of the package and chop it

200 g (about 7 oz) ground beef

a big bunch of chopped spring onion or chives (the volume equal to udon’s volume)

salt, pepper (I have added 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper)

ground cumin (I have added 1/2 teaspoon)

1 crushed garlic clove

1 egg

oil

Teriyaki glaze:

6 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)

Chop the udon as finely as possible (but don’t make a paste out of it!).

In a bowl combine the chopped udon, the spring onion/chives, the beef, the egg, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic.

Mix well with your hand or with a fork.

Put aside for ten minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan or heat a grill.

Form patties (beware: they are delicate and cannot be as flat as beef-only patties).

Fry or grill the burgers as much as you prefer (even completely cooked inside they were still juicy though). I fry them, putting a lid over the pan, so that the upper part is slightly cooked before I flip them (this way they are well cooked inside – I don’t like rare burgers – but not dry). Of course if you want them rare inside, don’t cover the pan.

In the meantime warm the teriyaki glaze in a small pan and make it boil until it thickens (watch the pan because it burns easily).

Before serving, brush the sauce over each burger.

Serve immediately.

15 thoughts on “Udon and Spring Onion Burger

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, A_Boleyn. I have been adding soaked bread crumbs or dry bread crumbs for ages, so it doesn’t surprise me, but noodles or pasta of any kind, chopped and included into patties still amazes me.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Hiroyuki. It was a delicious discovery! It has encouraged me to search for recipes on Japanese websites. I have found some other very interesting dishes.
      Since they already have carbs inside, I had them just with pickles and taberu rayu, but I guess that many people wouldn’t hesitate and serve it with bread, like normal burgers or with rice.
      Thank you for the link. It’s almost the same recipe! (And I thought gyoza were always wrapped in “skins”…).

  1. Mr. Three-Cookies

    Hi Sissi, really really interesting. When burgers are mentioned, I think meat between buns (carbs). In this case the carb is inside the patty. I can imagine this will be tasty.
    Talking about burgers and Japan, I had a really interesting and delicious burger made at a cafe owned by a Japanese girl. It was a fairly regular cheese burger with mash potato under the patty. Surprisingly delicious, and very filling.
    If you put this udon patty between buns, it will be a very economical burger since the patty has less than 50% meat content. Its almost vegetarian.
    Don’t want to disappoint you but I don’t think McD’s will have a McUdon anytime soon:)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I am not surprised your burger was interesting AND delicious. Japanese cooks are very creative!

  2. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    SO interesting. Japan is such a tiny country yet regional food stays in the specific region very well. Living in California which is about same size as Japan, the “regional” food doesn’t change me even you drive 8 hours. LOL. I’ve never heard or tried this before, but SO unique and I’m tempted to try!!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Nami. You are right! Japanese regional food seems to change from one city to the other and we, foreigners, usually don’t know anything about it. This was so unusual, I just had to try it, but frankly I didn’t expect such a delicious outcome. I’m sure you would love these burgers.

  3. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Look at the gorgeous light hitting your burgers!! Love it. Are the flecks of green from the chives? So colorful. I have never combined noodles with ground beef in a patty before and I have to say how much I’m enjoying your reinventions on the classics. I made your Filipino ground beef omelette to rave reviews! In the end, it did not look nearly as neat as yours but I added a ton of ingredients (mushrooms, red pepper, onion, drippy cheese… basically westernized it I guess 😉 ) but anyhow we loved the idea of combining beef with the eggs in an omelette form and your recipe was the inspiration. It was hearty and truly delicious. This one sounds equally compelling. Keep them coming Sissi! 🙂 . (by the way, I was just revisiting your Pork Tenderloin Braised in Soy Sauce with Cinnamon and Star Anise from my Recipe Wish List last night… with the fall approaching, I’m craving it all over again…).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Kelly, thank you so much for the compliments. I was not happy with the photograph because the burgers seemed not very photogenic… (moreover, I took it very quickly because I was hungry!). Yes, there is lots of green onion inside! You cannot imagine how thrilled to learn that you have tested some of recipes from my blog and liked them! I’m sure your omelette was fabulous. You have made my weekend 🙂 Thank you for this kind message and thank you for trusting me.

  4. mjskit

    In a million years I never would have thought to put pasta and especially udon, in a burger. Now that’s creative! With the udon, who needs a bun? And you’re right…these do look a lot like my crab cakes. 🙂 I thank you for sharing this recipe because I recently discovered fresh udon in the refrigerator section at one of the stores I shop at. Bobby and I both are hooked. I’ve been cooking them for quick lunches with a light sauce of chiles and oil. I know we’re going to love these burgers.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Me neither! Some Japanese cooking ideas are completely crazy, but utterly delicious! I’m glad you like this idea too and hope you will enjoy an udon burger as much as I did. If you buy the precooked “fresh” udon, you don’t need to boil it before chopping and including it into the burger (I’ll add it to my recipe).

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