Serves 6 people | Cooking time 40 minutes
Recipe and Article by Kanako Koizumi, Photo by Fumiko Yarita
If you ask a Japanese friend about his/her favorite Yoshoku (a Western-influenced cuisine adapted in Japan at the beginning of the Meiji era), I am pretty confident that “Hambāgu” will make it to be in the top 5 and definitely one of the most popular foods for children as either a main dish for dinner or lunch bento item. Outside homes, you often find “Hambāgu steak” on the menu as a signature dish at prestigious Yoshoku restaurants.
Hambāgu is a pan-fried hamburger patty steak. The patty is made with either 100% ground beef or sometimes mixed with ground pork (called Aibiki). Either way, it’s completed with various sauces. Many upscale restaurants serve homemade demi-glace sauce for the dish. The sauce can indicate the level of craftsmanship of the chef. However, demi-glace is a very labor-intensive sauce to make. In home cooking, simpler sauces and garnish are used, such as out-of-jar ketchup, tonkatsu sauce, ponzu or daikon oroshi (grated daikon radish) with shiso (Japanese basil) leaves.
Teriyaki sauce is another popular homemade sauce and very easy to make. Sweet and rich flavor is satisfying and a perfect accompaniment for rice. It tastes great at room temperature and also ideal for bento. Hamburger in Teriyaki sauce is one of the top seller bentos at Kozmo Kitchen and can be your kid’s favorite too!
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 lb. and 2 oz. ground beef (fat content 20% or higher preferred) – If mixing with ground pork, recommended beef to pork ratio is 2 to 1
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
¼ cup whole milk
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sake
½ cup mirin
1 Tbsp. potato starch, mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into bite sizes and blanched (optional)
4 oz. green beans, cut in half and blanched (optional)
❶ Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté minced onion for a few minutes until onion turns translucent. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
❷ In a mixing bowl, add ground beef (and pork if using), cooled onion, bread crumbs, egg, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix the ingredients well.
❸ Divide the meat mixture into 6 and form oblong patties with ½ inch thickness.
❹ Make teriyaki sauce. Mix soy sauce, mirin, sake, and 1 cup water well in a bowl. Set aside.
❺ Heat the skillet over high heat with canola oil and sear both sides of the patties, about 2-3 minutes on each side. At this point, the patties do not need to be fully cooked, but the surfaces should be nicely browned.
❻ Add in the teriyaki sauce and cooked for another 5 minutes. When you press the patty lightly and clear juice comes out, it’s cooked.
❼ Add the potato starch water to thicken the sauce into gravy sauce.
❽ Turn off the heat and transfer the patties and sauce onto a serving plate and garnish with sesame seeds if using.
❾ Optionally, you can add blanched carrot and green beans as sides.
Recipe by Kanako Koizumi | www. kozmokitchen.com
Kanako, a native of Akita, Japan, is a chef, author and instructor focused on authentic Japanese homecooking. Chef Kanako also offers in-home private cooking classes for groups up to 12. You can reach her at email@example.com.