Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) ハンバーグ

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  • Served with a red wine reduction sauce, this homemade Japanese hamburger steak (Hambagu) is incredibly juicy and melts in your mouth!

    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.

    I still remember vividly how my mom and I spent many evenings making Japanese Hamburger Steak or Hambagu (ハンバーグ). If I was home, she would call me around 4:30 PM and always encouraged my presence in the kitchen. Unless I was in the middle of a novel that I couldn’t stop reading, I didn’t mind helping her out most of the time. That’s how I learned cooking Japanese food from her.

    What is Hambagu?

    Japanese Hamburger Steak, or we call it Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) or Hambāgu Steak (ハンバーグステーキ), is a popular dish enjoyed both at home and at Yoshoku (Japanese style western food) restaurants. It’s a steak made from ground meat and usually served with rice rather than buns.

    While researching facts about Hambāgu on Japanese Wiki, I learned that there is an American version of hamburger steak and it’s very similar to a dish called Salisbury Steak, which I’ve never tried before.

    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.

    Variations of Japanese Hamburger Steak

    The common theme for all these hamburger steaks is that they are made from a blend of minced beef and other ingredients.

    There are many variations of Hambāgu in Japan, like Wafu Hambāgu (soy sauce-based sauce with grated daikon), Teriyaki Hambāgu, Demi-glacé Hambāgu, and more. You’ll also find different topping options, such as sautéed shimeji mushrooms and a fried egg.

    Today I’m sharing the basic Hambāgu recipe with a delicious homemade sauce.

    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.

    Use of Both Ground Beef and Ground Pork

    Hambāgu in Japan is typically made from both ground beef and ground pork. Supermarkets in Japan sell a convenient package of both ground beef and ground pork (we call it Aibiki Niku 合いびき肉) so that we don’t have to buy the meat separately. The common ratio of Aibiki Niku is 7:3.

    For this Hambagu recipe, you can decide the beef/pork ratio either 2:1 (8 oz/4 oz) or 3:1 (9 oz/3 oz). 

    We often use this Aibiki Niku for Menchi Katsu, Spaghetti Meat Sauce, Curry Doria (Rice Gratin), and Hambāgu recipes.

    How to Make Hambagu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)

    Served with a red wine reduction sauce, this homemade Japanese hamburger steak (Hambagu) is incredibly juicy and melts in your mouth!

    6 Tips to Make Perfect Hamburger Steak

    To enhance the flavor of Hambāgu, below are a few important tips, which I learned from my mom. I also included a video on how to toss hamburger steak to force out the air pockets.

    1. Sauté onion slowly and then cool it down completely. The cooked onion will add natural sweetness to Hambāgu.
    2. Knead the mixture into gruel with hands.
    3. Play catch, tossing meat mixture from your left hand to your right hand. Do this a couple of times in order to release the air inside. If you skip it, the hambagu will crack while cooking.
    4. Let the meat patties cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to solidify fats and take them out only right before cooking.
    5. Indent each patty with fingers to avoid explosion or crumbling of the meat patties when you cook. The meat will expand during cooking, and the indentation will disappear.
    6. Use wine for steam cooking and the delicious sauce. If you can’t consume alcohol, use beef/chicken stock instead.
    Sutter Home Mini Wine Bottles
    I keep these mini wine bottles (see below) in my kitchen and they come in handy! For this recipe, you will need just one bottle.

    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.

    Itadakimasu!

    You can sear the meat patty in a sizzling hot frying pan to brown the steaks, and then cook the red wine deduction sauce in the same pan. The rich sauce adds another layer of flavor to the already juicy Hambāgu.

    Serve the steak with a bed of grilled vegetables, you will have a fancy and extra special dinner that doesn’t cost a bomb. This is exactly the kind of recipe that calls for a bottle of red wine and a reason to celebrate.

    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.7 from 63 votes
    A white plate containing Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu), sautéed carrot, broccoli, and baked potato wedges.
    Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)
    Prep Time
    30 mins
    Cook Time
    25 mins
    Total Time
    55 mins
     
    Served with a red wine reduction sauce, this homemade Japanese hamburger steak (Hambagu) recipe is big on flavors. The meat is juicy and melts in your mouth. Perfect in a hot frying pan or summer grill outs!
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: meat patty
    Servings: 4 hambagu steaks (4 oz patty each)
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    For the Hambagu Patties
    • ½ onion (5 oz or 142 g)
    • 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • ¾ lb ground beef & pork combination (12 oz or 340 g; The good beef/pork ratio for hambagu is 2:1 (8 oz/4 oz) or 3:1 (9 oz/3 oz). You can make hambagu with 100% beef; however, it will not be as juicy and tender as combined meat)
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) (20 g)
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • 1 large egg
    For Cooking Hambagu
    • 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • 3 Tbsp red wine (for steaming; this mini wine is perfect if you are only using wine for cooking; you can substitute with beef/chicken stock although highly recommend red wine)
    For the Sauce
    • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 3 Tbsp ketchup (Adjust the amount - some ketchup is sweeter than others)
    • 3 Tbsp tonkatsu sauce (Sub: You can use Worcestershire sauce. However, you have to add sugar to balance out the sourness as Tonkatsu sauce is sweeter than Worcestershire sauce. You can also make Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce.)
    • 3 Tbsp red wine (This mini wine is perfect if you are only using wine for cooking; you can substitute with beef/chicken stock although highly recommend red wine)
    • 3 Tbsp water
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) Ingredients
    To Make Hambagu Patties
    1. Chop the onion finely. With the knife tip pointing toward the root, slice the onion to within ½ inch of the base. Make about ¼ inch parallel cuts. Then slice the onion horizontally about ¼ inch parallel cuts.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 1
    2. Then cut perpendicular to the first slices you made. If the onions need to be chopped finer, you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife; otherwise, the onions are going to go flying around the room.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 2
    3. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 3
    4. Sauté the onion until tender and almost translucent. Transfer to a large bowl and let it cool.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 4
    5. Once the onion is cool, add the ground beef and pork in the bowl. Add ½ tsp salt, black pepper, and ½ tsp nutmeg.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 5
    6. Add 2 Tbsp milk, ⅓ cup Panko, 2 Tbsp milk, and an egg.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 6
    7. Start mixing all together with a silicone spatula/spoon.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 7
    8. Then switch to hand and knead the mixture until sticky and pale.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 8
    9. Divide the mixture into quarters (or you can make 6 smaller patties) and scoop out each portion.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 9
    10. Toss it from one hand to the other hand repeatedly about 5 times in order to release the air inside the mixture (see the video link above). Tip: Without releasing air, the hamburger steaks will likely crack while cooking if you don’t release the air inside.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 10
    11. Make oval shape patties (4 oz or 113 g each). Cover with plastic and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking so that the meat combines together and fat will be solidified.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 11
    To Cook the Hambagu
    1. In a large pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat and place the patties gently on the pan. Indent the center of each patty with 2 fingers because the center of patties will rise with the heat.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 12
    2. Cook the patties until brown on the bottom side, about 3 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook for another 3 minutes until browned.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 13
    3. Add 3 Tbsp red wine and reduce the heat to low heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes to thoroughly cook the inside of the patties (Please adjust cooking time depending on thickness).

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 14
    4. Uncover and check doneness by inserting a skewer. If clear juice comes out, it's done. Increase heat to medium heat to let the wine evaporate. When it’s almost gone, transfer the hambagu steaks into individual plates. Do not wash the pan as you will make the sauce next. Tip: You can serve sauteed vegetables or salad along with Hambagu.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 15
    To Make the Sauce
    1. In the same frying pan (without cleaning), add 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, 3 Tbsp ketchup, and 3 Tbsp Tonkatsu Sauce.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 16
    2. Add 3 Tbsp wine and 3 Tbsp water.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 17
    3. Mix well together and bring the sauce on medium heat to simmer and let the alcohol evaporate.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 18
    4. When the sauce thickens (you can draw a line on the bottom of the frying pan with a spatula), remove from the heat. Drizzle the sauce over the hamburger steaks. Pour the leftover sauce in a small bowl or jar and bring it to the table in case anyone wants to add more.

      Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) 19
    To Store
    1. You can store the hamburger steaks in an airtight container after cooking them and letting cool completely. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and the freezer for up to a month.

    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Other Japanese Hamburger Recipes You’ll Enjoy:

    Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on December 17, 2012. The content has been updated in August 2017. The post has been updated with a new video and images in June 2020.

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