Recipe: Japanese Style Hamburg Steak (ハンバーグ)

While hamburg steak has its origins in Germany, the Japanese have taken this dish and really run with it to adapt it into their own beloved (and tasty) version.

Having some leftover hamburger patties, I decided to one day take an attempt at this dish and found it surprisingly easy and tasty. 

Sweet and salty, it's the special and simple sauce here that really elevates this meat patty. With some rice and grilled veggies, an ice cold beer, it really reminds me of my short home stay in Japan long ago.

The cooking process is very easy so give it a try! 

Japanese Style Hamburg Steak  (ハンバーグ)
Makes 2 Servings

You'll need:
- About 12 ounce of ground meat or 2 hamburger patties (You can choose beef or pork or even a mix but make sure they are on the fatty side)
- 1 medium onion
- 1/3 cup of bread crumbs (If you're making your own like I did, use one slice of bread)
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- 1 tsp of minced garlic
- Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the sauce: 
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp of Tonkatsu sauce or Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp of red wine
- Small nob of butter

1. Dice up your onion as small as you can get'em as it will be going into the meat patty. On medium high, begin cooking them slowly until they become golden and translucent. The slow cooking will help make the onions sweeter. 

Set the cooked onion aside and let it cool completely.

The onions will be added to the patties for a touch of sweetness

2. If you don't have bread crumbs on hand, make your own. Take a piece of bread and toast it until it's nice and hard. Tear it into pieces and add to your processor and give them a whirl until you get fine crumbs.

You can also just buy regular bread crumbs or the Japanese kind, Panko

3. In a bowl, add the bread crumbs, cooled onions, milk, egg, garlic and the hamburger meat. Add a bit of salt and pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you wish. 

Ready for mixing!

4. Using your hands, mix it all up until everything's incorporated. Tear off a small chunk and form into a ball. Toss the patty between your hands about 4 or 5 times while giving them a soft squeeze each time. This process releases the trapped air to help prevent the patties from falling apart during cooking. 

Flatten and mold into patties and set aside and repeat until you've made 4 or 5 patties. 

Tossing the balls between your hands will help ensure the patties don't fall apart

5. Give the patties a little indent in the center as the patties will rise during cooking. If you're not going to cook them right away, keep them in the fridge until you're ready to go. 

Give each of the patties a small indent in the center

6. Heat some oil on your pan over medium heat and then gently add the patties to the pan. Make sure not to overcrowd your pan as this will cause uneven cooking. 

During the next five minutes, don't touch the patties and let their bottom sides get nice and brown.

Resist the urge to touch the patties until they're ready to flip

7. After you flip the patties, pour in the 1/4 cup of red wine in the center before covering and cooking for 5 minutes. Lower the heat and uncover and cook until the red wine has evaporated and the patties are fully cooked to the center. Set the patties aside to drain. Leave the pan as is and don't clean it yet!

Add the red wine to help increase flavor and keep the patties moist

8. You're going to now make the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce, minus the butter.

Mix together all the sauce ingredients except for the butter

 In the same pan you cooked your patties in, on medium heat, add the small knob of butter and then your sauce. Gradually lower the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer and thicken while occasionally giving the mixture a little whirl. Skim off the fat and other not good ish.

Add the butter to the pan 

This is about a minute into the cooking but you'll want to continue simmering until it really thickens up

8. For serving, arrange 2-3 patties for each person on a plate with rice. Generously spoon the sauce you just made over the patties.

I took zucchini, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and small potatoes and cooked each of them separately with just a pinch of salt and pepper to serve with the patties. Some also like to fry up an egg, sunny side up, and place it on top of the patties and eat with the runny egg yolk.

Roasted or grilled veggies and rice help make it a complete meal

Cutting into the patties


And there you have some quick and easy Hamburg steak! Itadakimasu!