Hambagu is a Japanese hamburger steak. So many countries eat Hamburg steak with a bun or roll but in Japan, we just eat it by itself and of course the flavor is very Japanese. So juicy and it will melt in your mouth!
This was one of my favorite dinner dishes when I was little and it is still one of my favorites. I used to make Hambagu with my mom to impress the rest of the family.
Everyone loves it and the process for making Hambagu is fun for kids.
What is Hambagu? ( meaning )
Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) or Hambāgu Steak (ハンバーグステーキ) is a Japanese hamburger steak. This is the one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Yes, it did not originate in Japan. The big difference between other country’s hamburger steak and ours is that we serve with rice rather than buns or rolls.
Also, Hambagu is on the menu lots of restaurants. Every restaurant has different ways of preparing the dish, with lots of different tastes. In this recipe, I will introduce the quick and easy recipe that I have been using!
Variations of Japanese Hamburger Steak
As I mentioned, a lot of varieties of Hambagu exist.
- Teriyaki Hambagu
- Demi-glacé Hambagu
- Tomato and Miso Stewed Hambagu
- Wafu Hambagu (Japanese versions of western-style hamburger)
Once you know the basics on how to make Hambagu, then you can make your own original dishes with it!
Use of Both Ground Beef and Ground Pork
This is the tricky part. Hambagu is made from both ground beef and ground pork. But I know it’s difficult to find this combination in the states. There is a mixed package in grocery stores in Japan we call it Aibiki Niku(合いびき肉).
So when you cook, you have to make the mix by yourself. You can do the beef and pork 2:1 or 3:1(I recommend 2:1). Also, we often use this Aibiki Niku ratio for Menchi Katsu, Hambagu and Spaghetti Meat Sauce recipes.
6 Tips for making the best Hamburger Steak
Here are the 6 tips for making the juicy and tasty Hambagu!
Tip1 : The Ground Beef and Pork Ratio is 2:1
The meat we use for Hambagu is mixed ground beef and ground pork, to get the desired greasy but juicy flavor. The ratio is 2:1 (beef : pork) but you can change to your favorite ratio as you cook more. If you would like to have softer Hambagu, adding more ground pork helps.
Tip2 : Sauté or microwave onion
Before mixing up everything, you sauté or microwave the onion completely.
- If you sauté your onion, sauté with low-medium heat for 8-9 minutes until they get a little brown and soft.
- If you microwave your onion, microwave for 1:30 minutes and you’ll get soft onion.
The cooked onion will add sweetness to Hambagu!
Tip3 : Cool down the onion before mixing-in
Before you put the onion in a bowl to mix with the meat, please cool down the onion so that it is easy to mix everything together.
Tip4 : Toss the meat hand to hand
To reduce air inside the Hambagu, you toss the meat mixture from hand to hand like you’re playing catch with a ball. Do this a couple times in order to make sure the Hambagu maintains its shape and won’t crack.
Tip5 : Dent before you cook
When you make Hambagu, please put a small dent in the center of the meat. This helps because Hambagu will expand as it cooks.
Tip6 : Check if the Hambagu is done
To check Hambagu cooked perfectly, use a stick like in the below image. If the oil comes out clear then it is done but if the oil is white then you need to cook more.
Most often asked FAQ for Hambagu
There are 4 questions people often ask about Hambagu.
Q: Can you keep it as prep meal?
A: Yes, you can. To do that, cool down the Hambagu, wrap them individually with cling wrap, and then put them in a zip lock. In the freezer, it will be ok for a month. When you want to eat, please defrost in a microwave and add some sauce.
Q:What are the best sides for Hamburg?
Here are the ideas for Hambagu.
Q: Do you have recommendations for any other sauces?
Here are my ideas if you don’t want to/ can’t to make homemade Hambagu sauce.
- Soy Sauce
- Katsu Sauce
Q: How to make the best Hambagu sauce?
In the recipe, I introduce the simple and easy way to make sauce but if you want to make more professional sauce here is how.
- Use red wine instead of water
- Add 1 tbsp unsalted butter
With just 2 changes from my recipe here, you can make the best sauce for Hambagu!
How to Serve Hambagu
Here is the Japanese Hambagu serving!
We serve Hambagu with homemade sauce(I am going to share in the recipe) and some vegetables. When you eat you want to eat some rice too!
Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)
- 340 g ground beef & pork combination The good beef/pork ratio for Hambagu is 2:1 (beef 227g / pork 113g). 100% beef is ok but it will be a bit greasy and less juicy than combined meat.
- 1/2 large onion it's about 100-120g
- 5 Tablespoon panko HERE to by panko
- 40 ml whole milk
- 1 egg
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ pinch freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce HERE to by soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoon ketchup
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Gather all the ingredients
- Chop the onion finely.
- There are 2 options to make the onion soft enough. Option 1 One is to microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.Option 2 The other is to sauté with 1 tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) until they get brown.*this recipe use option1.
- While the onion is cooling, add the ground beef and pork in a bowl and add salt. Mix lightly.
- After the onion is cool, put onion, panko, milk, egg, and pepper in the bowl and mix with the meat until everything is combined. You can use a silicone spatula/spoon to mix.
- Divide the mixture into quarters or into 6 if you prefer smaller pieces.
- Toss it from one hand to the other. I do this 8-10 times in order to get rid of the air inside the meat. The way Hambagu won't crack while cooking.
- Shape the Patties 0.8 inch (2cm) thick and make a dent in the middle of the patties.
To Cook Hambagu
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and place the meat patties in the pan. Cook until one side gets brown (about 4-5 minutes).
- Turn the patties over and cook other side till brown.
- Cover with a lid and simmer with low heat for 8-10 minutes. If you don't have a lid, then aluminum can be substituted. *1
- Uncover and check if they are done by inserting a stick. I use a chopstick. If clear oil comes out, then it is done. Otherwise, cook one more minute and check again until the patties are done.* Do not wash the frying pan! We will use it for the sauce.
To Make Sauce
- Gather all the ingredients
- We will use the same frying pan (without cleaning).*2 Put ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce in a bowl and mix. Then put to the pan and set to low heat.
- After mixing well, please turn off the heat.*3
- On top of the Hambagu, put the homemade sauce. I also suggest that you put some vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, potatoes or whatever you prefer!
If You Want to Store
- You can store the Hambagu by wrapping the individual patties with cling wrap and putting them in a zip lock in the fridge. You can store them in the fridge for up to 2- 3 days and in the freezer for up to a month.