Recipe: The best home-made burger

The restaurants of Shanghai compete to pleasure residents with the ‘best burger’. There are many, many … many citywide choices of burger, mostly within the 75 to 100 RMB mark.

Make a nicer, better burger, for less, and enjoy it with friends in the comfort of your own home. Here’s how:

Ingredients (makes 4 burgers):

Australian minced beef, 300g

Strong cheddar cheese, 100g+

one slice of red onion

two garlic cloves

one egg

salt, pepper

plain flour, approx 50, 75g needed

Burger buns.


Cooking instructions:

Using a blender, blend a slice of onion with the garlic and a couple of tablespoons of water, one tablespoon of oil (rough measurements).

(You can easily buy a decent blender with a pint-sized top-jug at any of the places in Shanghai such as Gome, Suning, or of course on Taobao etc., for cheap.

Put the minced beef in a large bowl (larget the better, to help you really get in with the beef). Crack in the egg. Salt and pepper. Add the above onion/garlic mixture. This will keep everything nice and moist.

Knead everything in together. When making a burger you really need to keep squeezing it all through your hands to get it nice and gloopy. This is what will keep it in one form, rather than crumble. It will also keep it nice and bouncy to the bite.

It will seem too wet at this point. Which is where the flour comes in.

Add a good ‘sprinkle’ of flour. Something like half a handful. Mix it in.

Have a chopping board or clean surface ready. Flour it.

With your hands, you will make eight thin patties in total. You will then place a slice of cheese (not too thin) in the middle of two, and then fry that as one burger.

So, when you get your first patty, you will need to bare this in mind – i.e. you will need to scoop out – then roll and pat – a thin and flat patty.

Do this, and place them flat on your board. Put the cheese in the middle, put another patty on top – and then dust with flour on the top again.

In a large, flat frying pan, add oil – enough so it covers the whole pan with 1cm or just less.

Medium heat.

When at medium heat (would take just a couple of minutes), add in the patties.

Optional note: some people put their patties on a plate and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes so that they compact up and won’t fall apart when cooking. I don’t do this, but you will want to trial and error your first try before serving to guests, and may need to do this.

You need a large, flat spatula when doing this. Any other tool will risk mis-shaping or ruining the patty shape.

It should seem as though the oil is nicely bubbling away.

Don’t touch the burgers – let them seal.

After about 10 minutes, carefully flip them one by one.

Let them go for another 5 to 10 minutes. Again, you want to do a trial run before serving guests. Or if e.g. serving 2 or 3 guests, you can use one burger as a test, and cut it open after 5/10 minutes to check the inside is just right.

For the burger buns, it’s crucial to put them under the grill for just a few minutes. This is essential because the real brain-buzzing burger pleasure also comes from the textures – a crisp outside bun with fluffy bread inside, and a lightly crispy outside of the burger with a moist inside, is a single bite that will blow your mind. Crispy -> fluffy -> crispy -> moist.

This isn’t the place to go into ‘bite science’, but suffice to say that all of the world’s top food manufacturers analyse how the pleasure of a bite delivers pleasure to the brain. Google it.

And of course, that middle layer of head-dizzying, strong cheddar cheese delivers the final foodgasmic knock-out blow to the pleasure centres. That, mingled with ketchup and sweet mustard … an ice cold Coke … does it get better?

Where to buy the ingredients:

City Super Lujiazui will cater for all of this – except the burger buns, which City Shop sells.

Total cost:

The real cost is just the meat – about 30 RMB, and cheese – about 35+ RMB. So for four portions, this comes in at about 25 RMB per burger.

Yes. Home cooking is the way to go.

Additional side delights:

You want to get in gherkins, and the best oven-cooked chips/fries in town are at M&S (Marks and Spencer’s!), and only around 28RMB for a big pack that could serve 6+ people! (M&S also do a range of chutneys you can offer – a fruit chutney goes very well with the cheddar cheese)

You may also want to offer mushrooms and onions and options for your guests to add if they like. Even if you’re a beginner: mushrooms fry in a little oil, pepper and squirt of lemon juice for 10 minutes. Red onions need slow-cooking. Slice them, put on the lowest heat and stir every now and then – salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar too.

Mash ripe avocados with a fork.

Put mozzarella slices on the patty for the final 5 minutes of cooking (add salt to the mozzarella top).

These are all great options to have on the side. I don’t add any tomato or lettuce to my burgers because it takes away the simple delights of bun/beef/cheese.

This one didn’t have that much cheese – but you get the idea of the moistness packed within.



Categories: Food


Foreigner in Shanghai


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2 Comments on “Recipe: The best home-made burger”

  1. August 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    That looks too good!

    • August 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      And it is! Why not make your own and then show us the pic?

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