Japanese hamburger steak, or Hambagu, is a juicy and tender patty drizzled with a flavourful sauce. Japanese hamburger steak is a popular Yoshoku (Western food) in Japan.
Although it is called a hamburger, the Japanese enjoy it with rice instead of buns. Therefore, it is closer to the German Hamburg and the American Salisbury Steak. You'll love a Japanese hamburger steak if you love these two dishes.
Anime fans might also recognise this dish from many anime series. Among them is 'Today's Menu for the Emiya Family' and 'Himouto! Umaru-chan'.
Let us show you how to make Japanese hamburger steak using the best Japanese hamburger steak recipe!
- What is it made of?
- Why is Hamburg steak popular in Japan?
- Japanese hamburger steak calories
- Japanese hamburger steak ingredients
- How to make vegan Japanese hamburger steak
- Using an air fryer
- How to make Japanese hamburger steak sauce
- Japanese Hamburger Steak Recipe (with or without curry)
What is it made of?
Japanese hamburger steak mainly consists of ground meat, panko breadcrumbs, and sauteed onions. In Japan, cooks usually use a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. Thus, supermarkets in Japan often sell a mix of the two in packages for convenience.
The blend of ground beef and pork is called 'Aibiki Niku' with the standard ratio of 7:3. But when made from scratch, the best beef-to-pork ratio is 2:1.
However, you can make a Japanese hamburger steak with 100% ground beef. Hambagu with 100% ground beef will have a rich beefier flavour.
Why is Hamburg steak popular in Japan?
Hamburg steak is famous in Japan simply because it is cheap and delicious. The dish started becoming popular in the 1950s when it was cheaper to buy ground meat than cuts. As its popularity grew, more Japanese households began making the dish more and more.
Nowadays, you can easily find and enjoy Japanese hamburger steak in any Japanese family restaurant.
Over the years, Japan's other mouth-watering Yoshoku dishes have also gained major popularity overseas. Examples include Katsu Sando, Chaliapin Steak and Napolitan. These yoshoku dishes became a global interest through their appearance in many anime movies and series.
Japanese hamburger steak is often served with vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and corn. But nowadays, the Hambagu has also been adapted to the Japanese palates in many variations:
- Wafu Hambagu: “Wafu” means Japanese-style. Hence, this version is served with soy sauce-based sauce and grated daikon.
- Teriyaki Hambagu: this is another one for Japanese tastebuds that uses teriyaki sauce.
- Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce: This version has a sweet, tangy and savoury flavour. The Japanese are big fans of Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and use them in all kinds of dishes. Although these condiments come from the UK, you'll be able to find this version in any Japanese family restaurant. It is very common in Japan.
- With curry over rice: The Japanese hamburger steak can also be served with curry over rice as a full tasty meal.
- With Fried egg: You can also enjoy Japanese hamburger steak with egg on top. It is common to have the egg fried, but some enjoy it with a scrambled or poached egg.
Japanese hamburger steak calories
A serving of Japanese hamburger steak typically contains about 300 calories. Therefore, it is the perfect dish for those who want to satisfy their meat cravings guilt-free.
Japanese hamburger steak ingredients
These are the ingredients you will need to make a basic Japanese hamburger steak:
- Ground beef
- Cooking oil
- Worcestershire sauce
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Salt & Pepper
Using 100% ground beef will highlight the beef flavour in the dish. But as mentioned earlier, you can mix ground beef with ground pork at a ratio of 2:1.
Combining the meats will make your Japanese hamburger steak patty juicier and more tender.
As long as you use neutral-flavoured oil, the cooking oil will not affect the taste of the patty.
For our Japanese hambagu recipe, we will use canola oil. You should also note that some Japanese hamburger steak recipes use milk to make the sauce thick and creamy.
Milk will also enhance the flavour. However, you can exclude it from your dish and use water instead if you don't want it to be too creamy.
Many also use butter when making Japanese hamburger steak to add richness to the flavour. But if you are more adventurous, you can add a teaspoon of mayonnaise instead. You'll be surprised at how well it works with the dish!
Lastly, depending on your taste, you can change Worcestershire sauce with other sauces, such as Teriyaki or Tonkatsu.
How to make vegan Japanese hamburger steak
This dish is easy to make vegan, so curious vegans can also get a taste of it. Since most of the ingredients are vegan-friendly, you will only need to switch the meat, butter, and milk.
You can use vegan ground meat if you can find some at your local vegan grocer. Then, add soft tofu to get a soft and tender texture like the meat Hambagu.
Besides that, you will need potato starch to bind the steak together. However, you can still make vegan Japanese hamburger steak with tofu if you do not have vegan ground meat.
To make it with only tofu, you will need about 200 grams of medium firm tofu.
You can buy vegan butter from your local vegan grocers. Otherwise, you can change it with coconut oil at 1:1. Some other great alternatives are avocado oil and olive oil.
Similarly, you can replace milk with non-dairy versions such as coconut, oat, and almond milk. Lastly, adding 1-2 tablespoons of molasses into your vegan patty mix can enhance the flavour.
Using an air fryer
The Japanese hamburger steak is usually cooked in a frying pan. However, you can cook the dish with an air fryer instead.
Start by sautéing the onions for 3 minutes at 180°C in the fryer. Then, mix the caramelised onions with your patty mix and prepare the patty as usual.
Next, cover the patty with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While waiting, you can cook the sides you want, like potatoes and vegetables, in the air fryer.
After 30 minutes, put your patty inside the air fryer and press the centre slightly as you lay it in. This will ensure the patty will not crack whilst it cooks since the centre will rise from the heat. Then, air-fry the steak patty at 200°C for 12-15 minutes, depending on its thickness. Once it is done, remove it from the air fryer and leave it to cool.
If your air fryer has a barrel pan, you can also use it to make the sauce! Otherwise, you can refer to the recipe below. To prepare it in the air fryer, add the butter, ketchup, and sauce to the pan. Then, add a few tablespoons of milk or water to make it saucier and creamier. Mix well and leave it to cook for 6-8 minutes at 200°C.
How to make Japanese hamburger steak sauce
This Japanese hamburger steak sauce recipe only needs five ingredients. You will need sugar, butter, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and milk. The steps are also very simple.
You only have to mix the ingredients and simmer the sauce over medium heat until it thickens. Then, it is ready to be enjoyed with your patty.
If you'd like, you can substitute Worcestershire sauce with Tonkatsu sauce at a 1:1 ratio. Make sure to remove the sugar since Tonkatsu sauce is sweeter than Worcestershire sauce.
The Worcestershire sauce gives it a more savoury umami flavour. You may also want to adjust the amount of ketchup since some can be sweeter than others.
Alternatively, instant Japanese hamburger steak sauce can save more time and energy. You can buy it from most Asian supermarkets or convenience stores. You can also buy it online from stores like Every Market or Amazon.
Japanese hamburger steak sauce is very versatile. So besides using it for Hambagu, you can also enjoy it with other dishes. For instance, it makes delicious gravy for chicken chop and mashed potatoes.
It also makes an excellent condiment for your sandwiches and dipping for your fries. However, we highly recommend taking your hamburger game to the next level by enjoying it as a hamburger sauce!
Japanese Hamburger Steak Recipe (with or without curry)
To make the Hambagu patty:
- ½ onion
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 340 g ground beef and pork
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tbsps milk
- 1 large egg
- 20 g Panko breadcrumbs
To make the Hambagu sauce:
- 14 g unsalted butter
- 3 tbsps milk 45ml
- 3 tbsps Worcestershire sauce 45ml
- 3 tbsps ketchup 45ml
- 2 tsps sugar
- Finely dice the onion. Then, heat the cooking oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions until caramelised before transferring them to a large bowl and let cool.
- Add the ground beef and pork into the bowl once the onions cool. Add in salt, black pepper, and nutmeg for seasoning. Then, add milk, panko breadcrumbs, and the egg into the bowl. Mix the ingredients with a spoon or silicone spatula.
- Next, mix and knead the mixture by hand until it is sticky and pale. Divide the mixture into four equal portions. Alternatively, you can divide it into six small portions. Then, scoop out one portion and toss it from one hand to the other repeatedly for about five times.
- Form an oval-shaped patty by hand and place it on a tray. Repeat the same process with the remaining portions.
- Heat the cooking oil over medium heat and place the patties onto the pan. Indent or slightly press the centre of each patty with two fingers. Cook the patties for about 3 minutes or until their bottom sides turn brown, and repeat with the other side. Let it steam on low heat for 5 minutes by adding water and cover the pan. Then, transfer the Japanese hamburger steak patties to individual plates.
- In the same frying pan, add unsalted butter, ketchup, sugar and Worcestershire sauce before adding the milk. Mix well and let the sauce simmer over medium heat until it thickens. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if the sauce is too thick. Once it is ready, turn off the heat and drizzle the sauce over the Hambagu steaks. Serve the dish with steamed rice or steamed vegetables, and enjoy!
- You can make the dish with 100% beef by substituting the pork with more beef mince.
- You can replace ½ teaspoon of kosher salt with ¼ teaspoon of table salt.
- You can also use 3 teaspoons or 45ml of water instead of milk.
- You can substitute Worcestershire sauce with Tonkatsu sauce. But make sure to remove sugar since Tonkatsu sauce is sweeter than Worcestershire sauce.
- It is important to toss the patty before refrigerating it to release any air inside the mixture. Otherwise, the Japanese hamburger steak will crack or crumble while cooking.
- You can straight away cook the patties or refrigerate them first. Cooling them for at least 30 minutes will allow the meat to combine well and let the fat solidify. To do this, place the patties on a tray and cover them with plastic wrap. Then, refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before frying them.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
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