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Author Notes: If you think about it, a hamburger is essentially a meatloaf for one, and vis a vis, a meatloaf is just a GIANT HAMBURGER.
Thus, the base of this meatloaf comes from my recipe for Japanese Hamburgers, which is actually the first dish I ever learned to make. My aunt would make them whenever she visited from Japan, and I remember writing the recipe down in this old notebook back when I was a kid thinking, “ONE DAY THIS WILL BE FILLED WITH RECIPES AND I WILL BE AWESOME.”
That was the only recipe I ever wrote down, so FAIL.
But anyway, this recipe essentially combines Japanese Hamburgers with Curry Pan, which is a popular bread in Japanese bakeries that’s essentially a bun filled with curry, crusted in panko, and fried; a curry donut if you will. Some variations of the curry bun have a cube of mozzarella in the center, and it’s AWESOME. So I figure, mix cubes of mozzarella into the meatloaf itself, and envelop the whole thing in a curry panko crust. Yeah, yeah, yeah?
SO LET’S BEGIN.
Food52 Review: This is the best meatloaf I have ever made. This is also the best meatloaf I have ever eaten. This can't even be put into the same boring category as every other meatloaf that has ever been made, period. Tim's instinct to make a Japanese hamburger into a meatloaf, and then add the curry sauce and then, of all things, mozzarella, is simply inspired. This is a crunchy little flavor bomb. It's simply a great fusion of Japanese flavors and down-home country-comfort cooking. I had a great time making it, and though the ingredients needed may not be in every chef's pantry, it's worth tracking them down to not only cook this dish but to open up new flavor profiles for those who don't cook with mirin, dashi, and Japanese curry every day. A+, and well done. Note: S&B curry is the most well-known "oriental curry powder", apparently. Finding instant curry roux was easy in NYC, but I might include the "from scratch" method as well (making the roux from flour, curry, butter, etc.) for those who don't have access to Japanese grocers. I assumed that Tim was cooking with liquid dashi, but his use of instant curry roux almost had me thinking of using instant (powdered) dashi as well. If the recipe were to be revised a bit I'd explain what dashi he used, and/or how you can make it from scratch (which is what I did, since I had konbu and bonito on hand already) vs. buying the instant version. Overall, I loved it. And I will be cooking his recipes again. - lechef —The Editors
for the meatloaf
- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef
- 1 1/4 pounds ground pork
- 3/4 onion, minced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 large egg
- 1/8 cup mirin
- 1 1/4 cups panko
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon dashi
- 1/2 large red bell pepper
for the curry sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon dashi
- 1/2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 box curry roux
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- Start off by mincing the onion finely. Sautee half the onion in ½ tbsp of butter and 1 tsp of low sodium soy sauce until nicely caramelized, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a dish and let cool to room temp.
- Meanwhile, separate the remaining minced onion. ½ will go into the burger, and ½ will be used for the curry sauce. I like using a mix of caramelized and raw onions in the meatloaf because the cooked onions will essentially melt and make the meatloaf soft and juicy, while the raw onions will cook just enough to provide a bit of texture. NICE.
- Mince the bell pepper and cube the mozzarella into ½ inch cubes or so.
- LET’S BEGIN MIXING. In a small bowl, mix your wet ingredients first. The egg, the ¼ tsp nutmeg, the ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, the 1 tbsp dashi, the 1/8 cup mirin, 1 tsp curry powder, and the 1 tsp salt
- NOW THE DRY… -ish, well MOIST INGREDIENTS. In your large mixing bowl, first mix together the beef and pork, then add the remaining ¼ of minced onion (remember to leave the other ¼ for the curry sauce), the bell pepper, the mozzarella, and the cooled caramelized onions. Mix well.
- Add the egg mixture into the meat mixture, and incorporate well. Then add ½ cup of the panko breadcrumbs (the remaining ¾ cup is for the crust). The mixture should be soft but still moldable into a loaf. If you find a mix a little too loose, just add more panko.
- Mold this into a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray and compact well, getting out any huge air bubbles.
- Then invert this onto a large baking dish (one with a lip), and mold into a nice round loaf like thing. Be sure to poke in any exposed mozzarella cubes and mold the loaf around them. We want the cheese to be a surpriiiiiiiise.
- Cover with plastic wrap and park it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can bypass this if you’d like, but it does help all the flavors meld.
- MEANWHILE, begin the curry sauce. Saute the remaining ¼ minced onion in ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp of vegetable oil until translucent.
- Sprinkle on the tsp of curry, tsp of dashi and ½ tbsp of soy. Let sauté for a minute, GET THINGS AROMATIC.
- Then add the 1 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil.
- When it’s at a boil, add the curry roux blocks (you can find these at most Japanese grocery stores, see the picture above!) ¼ of a box is usually two blocks.
- Dissolve in completely and lower the heat to a simmer.
- For the panko crust, melt 1 tbsp of butter in the microwave, and then mix in the remaining ¾ cup of panko and 1 tsp of curry powder.
- Take the meatloaf out of the fridge, and pat the crust on.
- Bake for 60 minutes at 350, and then turn it up to 425 for another 20. As per usual, these are general times. Ovens are weird and never cook the same way, so after 20 minutes at 425, take it out and poke it. If the juices run clear, you’re good.
- When you take it out, let rest uncovered for 5 minutes. In the meantime, sauté up some broccoli in shallots and garlic with a sprinkle of mirin and salt, have a glass of diet dr. pepper, do some Sudoku.
- ENJOY, atop a bed of white rice and a ladle of the curry sauce.
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