Your recent letter was a pleasure to read. The passage on the relationship between hamburger steak and nutmeg was especially well written, I felt: so rich with the genuine sense of daily living. How vividly it conveyed the warm aromas of the kitchen, the lively tapping of the knife against the cutting board as it sliced through the onion!
In the course of my reading, you letter filled me with such an irrepressible desire for hamburger steak that I had to go to a nearby restaurant and have one that very night.
I love Haruki’s short stories. They’re little bubbles in the Murakami fictional world where you can tell he’s really just having fun with the whole writing business. This short and sweet story is called “A Window” and, coming in at just seven pages, tells the story of a college student who has a part-time job as a “Pen Master”. As a pen master he must read and critique the letter-writing skills of twenty-four women, most of whom are older than him. The art of letter-writing is not dead in this one, and neither is the certain sauciness that comes with the act of pen to private paper, especially when said pen is describing hamburger steaks.
With a little research I found that a hamburger steak is basically a miniature meatloaf for one. And with a little more practical research I found that they’re as delicious as they sound.
For four burgers you will need:
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
1 medium onion, diced finely
30g breadcrumbs (I used the good and crunchy Panko kind)
2 tsp tonkatsu sauce (which is basically a thick worcester sauce)
2 tsp white wine
salt & pepper
1. Put the meat and onions in a big mixing bowl.
2. Add the breadcrumbs to the milk and then pour in over the bowl.
3. Add the tonkatsu, wine, parsley (to your taste) and your salt and pepper (don’t be afraid of that seasoning.)
4. Mix the contents of the bowl together with your hands.
5. When it’s well mixed you should be able to roll four nice evenly sized balls. Put them on a plate and flatten ’em down a into nice little robust steaks.
6. Heat some oil in your pan and fry them for about four or so minutes on each side. When you happy they’re cooked but still juice, flash fry them for about 30 seconds on each side in a tonkatsu-ketchup sauce (1tbsp of each mixed together.)
I ate my burger with some simply steamed rice, some bok choi that I fried in sesame oil and soy sauce with garlic, and a little bit of that tonkatsu-ketchup for dipping. So there you go, hamburgers the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast, cooked Murakami style.