Never discount the hidden food treasures inside Japan’s train stations and airports. There are gems to be found: Michelin-starred restaurants, izakayas and stellar ramen joints. I discovered katsu burgers before catching a flight and was soon salivating over the crisp, panko-coated prawn patties tucked in a bun with chilli mayo and crunchy cabbage. Why not take it a step further with a soft bao?
First make the cabbage slaw. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, radishes and vinegar. Add some sea salt and toss together.
To a food processor add half the prawns, the spring onion, soy and ginger and pulse until puréed. Roughly chop the remaining prawns and add to the mixture along with the fresh breadcrumbs. Form into 12 burgers.
Place the eggs, flour and panko breadcrumbs, crushed until fine, in three separate shallow dishes. Dip the burgers into the flour, then egg, then cover in panko breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the burgers. Place on a plate covered with baking paper, cover with more paper and then wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until frying (I find they stay together better if they have an hour in the refrigerator before you fry them).
Mix all the chilli mayo ingredients together in a small bowl and then set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep medium saucepan until it reaches 180–190°C (350–375°F) or when a small piece of bread instantly sizzles. Have a wire rack set on top of a baking tray to drain the burgers, then fry them four or five at a time for about 2–3 minutes until they turn golden.
Serve the bao buns stuffed with the katsu, some chilli mayo and the cabbage slaw.
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