Rice Burgers Are A Must For Texture Enthusiasts

Sometimes you're craving the chewy rice texture of a mouthful of sushi, and sometimes you have a hankering for a layered bite of burger with a crispy side of fries. Sometimes you want it all — and that's where the rice burger comes in.

The rice burger got its start at Japanese fast-food chain MOS Burger in 1987 and has since traveled the world, gaining traction on social media from food-motivated travel influencers seeking it out in the country where it was first introduced and from home cooks looking to recreate the dish in their own kitchens. It's no wonder the rice burger has gained a broad fan base, especially among those who have already come to love onigiri and onigirazu

This dish takes inspiration from both Asian and American food cultures, transforming the flavors and textures of a classic burger by replacing the bun (generally a kind of bread made from wheat or potato flour) with two patties of sticky rice. Whereas a soft or even soggy bun can be a mere vessel for other ingredients in some burgers, a rice burger offers an appealing textural contrast thanks to the chewiness of the grains and their crispy exterior, which is browned before serving.

The rice to use at home for your burger bun

If you're going to make rice burgers at home, you want to pay special attention to the type of rice you buy for this particular meal. You'll need short-grain white rice, which is generally used for making sushi. Other rice varieties do not have the stickiness needed to hold a cohesive shape. Go ahead and prepare the rice as you would sushi rice, and allow it to cool.

To form the patties, you'll need a bowl, glassware, or other piece of kitchen equipment that has a flat, round bottom. Press the cooked rice firmly into the base of this container using your palm, or the back of a spatula or spoon, then delicately loosen it. Once you have formed all of the patties, heat a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Add a thin layer of oil (any kind of high-heat vegetable oil will do), then cook the patties for a few minutes on either side, until browned, golden, and crispy. After they are done cooking, place them on a wire rack.

How to serve your rice burger

The international nature of the rice burger opens the doors to plenty of creativity when it comes to the kinds of fillings, toppings, and condiments you might serve with it. You can opt for a more classically American preparation, dressing up a ground beef patty with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard. Sesame seeds sprinkled on top are conveniently cross-cultural since they're found on both American burgers and Japanese sushi.

If you want to lean into the Japanese heritage of the rice burger, you can flavor the rice patties by brushing them with teriyaki or soy sauce while cooking them on the stovetop. When adding toppings, sub American pickled cucumbers for pickled ginger, then add wasabi for spiciness and seaweed salad for something salty. A rice burger is naturally gluten-free, but you can explore meat-free options, too. Fish burgers work well with the rice patty, and roasted portobello mushrooms make for a hearty vegan meal.