Malaysian ‘Ramly burger special’ arrives in London
Food evokes memories.
When I lived in Malaysia, my friends and I used to frequent a food stall about 10 minutes drive from my home, serving a popular street dish – the Ramly burger. Besides late- night dimsum (dimsum is available in Malaysia not only at lunch time but also for breakfast and supper!), this burger ranked as one of my favourite dishes to have for supper. Back in the days when I could have supper and not see it go straight to my hips, that is.
You can read a little bit about the history of this burger on its website but the Ramly burger is a little different from typical burgers and is a Malaysian speciality. Rather than being served with the patty, salad garnish and condiments stacked in the bun, the patty in the Ramly burger is first covered with the desired condiments including a slice of cheese, tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and Malaysian chilli sauce, then wrapped in a thin layer of egg. The Ramly Burger served in this way is known as ‘Ramly Burger Special’.
This burger is served in many hawker (road side) food stalls in Malaysia but mind you, not every one of these stalls makes a good Ramly burger. There is technique in the flip of the burger patty, time taken to toast the burger buns, cooking the egg just so and the mixture of condiments to give a most satisfying mouthful of the whole lot. This, despite the burger patties being made in a factory.
I hardly eat this burger now when I visit Malaysia, for various reasons (yes, those damn expanding hips) but I was reminiscing about food from my youth last week and was literally salivating at the thought of one of those juicy, eggy, chilli sauce oozing, flavoursome burgers. The fried egg really takes it to another level and if you get the mix of condiments right, believe you me, it’s a Malaysian experience you will never forget – for the right reasons.
You will see from the photo of my finished burger that I mis-estimated the size of the beef patty and the egg wasn’t quite large enough to create a neat little pocket around it. Never mind, it still tasted delicious but more importantly, it reminded me of Malaysia, my friends and the hours we spent chatting over a burger and ‘Milo ais’ (a cold chocolate malt drink, another Malaysian speciality) sitting (on cheap red plastic chairs) at a food stall by a road in my hometown of Penang.
Another thing to note is that the burger is typically served on its own but my interpretation here included garnishes of sliced tomatoes, caramelised onions and gherkins. All enjoyed with a side salad and washed down with a cold beer. When I posted a picture of the finished burger on Facebook, some of my Malaysian friends, die-hard fans of the unadulterated Ramly burger special, chided me on the addition of the garnishes – Malaysians take their food very seriously indeed. I say, enjoy this burger with anything you like!
For the beef patties
- 500g good quality minced beef
- 100g breadcrumbs (I used Japanese panko breadcrumbs)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Add all the ingredients for the beef patties in a bowl and mix well. Best to use your hands so everything gets scrunched up really well.
- Divide into 4 round balls then pat and flatten each into a round shape about 2cm thick.
- Drizzle the beef patties with olive oil, put on a plate or baking tray and place in the fridge until needed (this helps them to firm up).
For the caramelised onions
- Oil for sautéing
- 1 large onion, sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Sauté the onions in a small saucepan on low to medium heat until browned. This took me about 30 minutes but you need to keep checking to make sure it doesn’t burn. If it looks too dry, add a teaspoon of water to the onions.
- Season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.
To cook your beef patties
- 4 slices of cheese (I used Leerdammer cheese)
- Preheat a large griddle or frying pan for about 4 minutes on a high heat.
- Turn the heat down to medium.
- Place the beef patties on the griddle or in the pan and use a spatula to lightly press down on them.
- Cook them to your liking for 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Place a slice of cheese on each patty in the last minute of cooking so it starts melting. Set aside.
To assemble your burger
- 4 burger buns
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned
- 4 cooked beef patties with melting cheese
- Tomato ketchup
- Chilli sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- Caramelised onions
- Halve your burger buns and lightly toast them on the griddle or in the pan.
- Pour egg mixture for 1 egg into a medium pan and cook until set and slightly browned.
- Place a grilled burger patty with melting cheese on the cooked egg and top with tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, chilli sauce and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
- Wrap the patty with the egg and place on a toasted burger bun. Top with more tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and chilli sauce if desired, then with the sliced tomatoes and caramelised onions. Finish with the top of the burger bun.
- Serve with sliced gherkins, a side salad and chips.
Yields 4 burgers