Hamburg Steak (Hambāgu)

Hamburg Steak Recipe

Chicken teriyaki aside, Hamburg Steak or Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) as the Japanese like to call it, is probably the most popular entrée to stick in a bento lunch in Japan. Although it’s unclear exactly when this dish was introduced to Japan, it presumably comes from the American Salisbury steak, which is named after its inventor Dr. J. H. Salisbury.

The name “Hambāgu” (pronounced hahm-bah-goo) is a transliteration of the English term Hamburger, which in turn got its name from the Germen city of Hamburg. Confused yet? I’m not done:-) To add to the confusion, if you go to Japan, you’re just as likely to come across a Hambāgu (the topic of this post) as you are a Hambāgā (the sandwich that McDonald’s made famous).

Ingredients for Hamburg Steak

Hamburg Steaks are thicker than a Salisbury steaks (think restaurant style burger), and they’re filled with onions and garlic and seasoned with soy sauce and ketchup. The sauce is made by reducing red wine with ketchup and tonkatsu sauce, giving each Hambāgu a luscious tangy-sweet coating that balances out the rich, melt-in-your-mouth patty.

I like the sweetness and flavor of adding caramelized onions but I’m also a fan of the crispy texture of lightly cooked onions, so I usually sauté half the onions with the garlic before adding it into the meat while adding half of them raw. That said, if you prefer your onions milder, caramelize all of them; if you like them strong, you can skip the sautéing and add them all in raw.

While it may sound strange, I like adding silken tofu (the really soft kind) to things like Meatloaf and Hamburg Steak because it adds richness and moisture to the mix without as much fat as using ricotta cheese. If you’re worried about it tasting like tofu, fear not, you could feed these to tofu haters all day long and as long as they don’t see the carton in the trash they’ll have no idea they were eating bean curd!

While they’re best freshly made, these are also great at room temperature, which is probably why Hamburg Steak is such a popular addition to bento boxes in Japan. Serve it with a bowl of rice if you want to do it Japanese-style or stick it in a hamburger bun if you want to have some fun with it!

Hamburg Steak (Hambāgu)
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Votes: 3
Rating: 3.67
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Rate this recipe!
This Japanese take on Salisbury Steak is tender, moist and enrobed in a tangy sweet sauce making it perfect to add to bentos boxes for lunch.
Hamburg Steak (Hambāgu)
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 3
Rating: 3.67
You:
Rate this recipe!
This Japanese take on Salisbury Steak is tender, moist and enrobed in a tangy sweet sauce making it perfect to add to bentos boxes for lunch.
Servings Prep Time
patties 30minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Servings Prep Time
patties 30minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 450 grams beef - ground
  • 170 grams tofu - soft
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon parsley minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tonkatsu sauce Worcestershire sauce also works
  • 1 tablespoon demi-glace (optional)
Units:
Instructions
  1. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a frying pan and sauté half the onions and all of the garlic until medium brown and caramelized. Let these cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine the beef, tofu, sautéd onions, raw onions, panko, egg, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, oyster sauce, parsley, soy sauce and black pepper in a large bowl. Put some food-safe gloves on and knead the mixture together until it is uniform in color and texture.
  3. Add a little bit more oil to the frying pan that you fried the onions in and place over medium heat. Because the patties are on the soft side, you'll want to form them and add them directly to the pan. I usually make about 8 oval patties about 1" thick.
  4. Fry them until they've formed a dark brown crust on one side, then use a spatula to carefully flip them over and brown the other side. Unless you have a very large pan, you won't be able to do them all at once, so fry 4 at a time and transfer them to a plate when they're browned on both sides. Don't worry if they're not cooked all the way through as they will finish cooking in the sauce.
  5. After you've fried all the patties, drain off any excess oil (but don't wash the pan as the brown stuff is what will give your sauce flavor). Add the red wine and boil until it's reduced by about half in volume. Add the ketchup, water, tonkatsu sauce, and demi-glace and stir to combine.
  6. Place the patties back into the pan, cover, and cook for 7 minutes, flipping them over once in the middle. Cook uncovered for another 3 minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Serve with rice, pasta or boiled potatoes.
Categories
  • Kalyn Denny

    Very interesting post, and this sounds delicious.

  • http://theindolentcook.blogspot.com/ leaf (the indolent cook)

    That is a great mix of ingredients – and with that sauce… the patties look luscious!

  • Dsfkj

    Hi!  Thanks so much for posting this recipe!  I can’t wait to make it.  I don’t use wine though– is there any substitute for it in this recipe?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You could substitute beef stock. 

  • Janie

    what can I use other than demi-glaze?  Or would ready made demi-glaze be okay?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Ready made is fine, but just make sure it’s actually Demi glace ( there are lots of fakes ). Demi-glace Gold is the type I usually use.

  • dan nguyen

    thanks for posting. Love your bog ! 

  • Jessen

    Great Idea!  I’ve recently made a chinese meatloaf, but this Rocks too!

  • http://spinachtiger.com/ Angela

    This in a bento box comes as a surprise to me. You have made the American Hamburg steak look sexy. That’s not easy.

  • http://www.italianinthemidwest.com/ PolaM

    I love this burgers! They must be super flavourful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13618075 Inhae Inés Koo

    These make me nostalgic… Koreans make these for lunch too!

  • http://www.cheese-burger.net/ Jeff @ Cheese-Burger.net

    This hambagu recipe looks very lucios!

  • http://madrantingsofamiddleclassmom.blogspot.com/ Jenny Hartin

    Looks delicious!

  • http://www.sarwatsfamilykitchen.wordpress.com/ Sarwat abbasi

    an easy recipe to follow :-)

  • christina tran

    yummy  i want to make it ^_^

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  • Ima Cherie

    Hi Mark merci beacoup for the recipe :) 

    the best beef burger ever :) 

  • Sinwithne

    My son made these and they were the best hamburgers I ever ate. Yummy, so moist.

  • lilly

    My local grocers only has medium firm and hard tofu, no soft is there anything else i can use w/o traveling and hour just to get tofu?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi lilly, you can use medium firm. Otherwise fresh ricotta cheese will also work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.vick.94 Katie Vick

    how would you suggest i keep the patties from falling apart in the pan?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      They need to be well browned on one side before you try to flip them otherwise they may fall apart. If you’re having trouble with sticking, then try using a non-stick pan. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of being careful as you flip. I hope that helps.

  • Paul D.

    Hello Marc,
    Any suggestions on how to modify this for a curry sauce instead. I have ideas, but I really like your recipe. I’ve been very bummed since they closed a local Japanese curry house that had a hambagu in curry dish that I loved.

  • Audrey

    Hi Marc,
    Are u using curly parsley?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      For this recipe it doesn’t matter. I usually prefer flat leaf, but on this particular day my grocery store was out of flat-leaf, so I used curly.

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  • http://twitter.com/yoshif8tures yoshif8tures

    I cooked this last night, and this recipe is just superb and simple to follow! Thank you very much!

  • Carla

    I made these the other night. The only differences I did were as follows: I DID NOT add the silken tofu, oyster sauce, tonkatsu sauce,or the demi-galze. I DID make a homemade gravy to pour over them and still used my homemade gravy in the same ways that the demi glaze was to be used. These are now a repeat meal in my household. So darn good! Just thinking about them I want them now!

  • Sarah

    Oh my goodness, this is wonderful! I can’t stop eating it…help!!

  • Holly in Japan

    I made these exactly as the recipe calls for using the worcestershire option and opting out on the demi-glace. It was awesome! I am an American living in Japan, and these are just as good as the restaurants. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  • JT

    can i use egg tofu(the kind in the plastic tubes) instead of silken tofu?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      HI JT, to be honest I’m not sure. If it has egg in it, it will probably curdle if exposed to high heat, so I’d be concerned it will change the texture. That said, I’ve never tried it so if you feel daring, give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

  • jami

    I am a little confused, do you stuff the patty?

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