Cook the Book: Japanese Burgers with Wasabi Ketchup 


Fire up your grill and get ready for some serious smoke.

Cook the Book: Japanese Burgers with Wasabi Ketchup\u00a0

[Photographs: Hawk Krall]

Okay, so these Japanese Burgers from The Japanese Grill by Harris Salat and Tadashi Ono aren't your typical backyard cookout fare, but man, are they good. They're little patties of soy-spiked beef and pork, topped with spicy-sweet wasabi ketchup, served on a grilled rice "bun."

Of course, you could serve these Japanese Burgers on regular buns, but the yaki onigiri are way more exciting. Split and stuffed with the juicy patties, the nutty, soy-brushed rice balls are the perfect stand in for a bun with their crisp exterior and squishy innards. Stirring wasabi and soy into sweet ketchup makes for a much more complex condiment, and one that matches these Japanese-inspired burgers beautifully.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Japanese Grill to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from The Japanese Grill by Harris Salat and Tadashi Ono. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes


  • Wasabi Ketchup:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi 
  • Japanese Burgers:
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or regular dried breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Sesame oil, for coating hands 


  1. 1.

    To make the wasabi ketchup, whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce, and wasabi in a bowl; set aside.

  2. 2.

    To make the burgers, mix together the breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and let sit until the breadcrumbs absorb all the milk, about 5 minutes. When the breadcrumbs are ready, mix them together with the ground beef, ground pork, black pepper, onion, soy sauce, and salt in a large bowl. Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together; divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Lightly dab your hands with sesame oil. Using your palms, roll each part of the meat into a ball, then pat the ball flat, shifting it from hand to hand, to form a 1/2-inch-thick patty (patting like this compresses the meat and removes air pockets). Press down to make an indentation in the center of the patty (which prevents the patty from puffing up into a ball while it grills). Place the completed patties on a sheet of aluminum foil.

  3. 3.

    Preheat a grill to medium. Grill the burgers until they’re nicely browned, about 10 minutes, flipping twice. These burgers have to cook through completely because of the pork; you’ll see no pink in the middle, but they’ll still be incredibly juicy and tasty. Let the burgers rest for 2 minutes. Spoon the wasabi ketchup on top and serve.