Monday, September 11, 2017

Japanese Hamburg

"Mum, What's for dinner?"

"Hamburg." I replied.

"Hamburg???" Instantly, I saw cynical expressions at both my husband and son's faces and they couldn't stop making stupid faces at me. Hmmm...

Obviously, they don't know what is hamburg!

To those who don't know, hamburg is the Japanese version of hamburger without the "er". Bizarre? I know but it is true that the Japanese eat this kind of hamburger with NO buns, NO caramelised onions, NO bacon, NO cheese and NO grilled mushrooms and this is why these hamburgers do not have the "er"!!!

Instead, hamburg is served on a plate with a tangy ketchup based sauce, steamed white rice and cooked vegetable with or without Japanese potato salad!

Unlike most burger patties that are made with all beef, most Japanese hamburgs are made with a mixture of beef mince, pork mince, milk and panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Although most hamburgs are typically cooked to well done, they are amazingly juicy! Some say that the juiciness is due to the use of pork mince but I think it is due to the addition of panko and milk!!! Hmmm... You think?

My hamburg is a little different. Well, you can say that it is a little less Japanese... as I cooked mine with all lean beef mince and served with melted cheese on their top. Lean and yet very amazing juicy!!! Very delicious!!!

japanese hamburg
Japanese Hamburg

It's easy! Here's a video showing how I cooked these juicy and lean all-beef Japanese hamburg and I'm sure that you can cook these easily for your family too.

If you have known me well enough, you must be wondering why an environmental-vegetarian-wannabe me is cooking this meat dish? I was cooking these nutritionally good and tasty beef patties for my meat-loving husband and son but I choose not to have these for my dinner. Yes that I had to taste a small bit of a patty to make sure that they are good enough to serve my family and was nibbling my "rabbit" food while they were enjoying these! What to do? Blame me because I'm always caught in between. Hmmm...

"Rabbit" food? LOL! Want to know what is the delicious vegetarian food that I have cooked for myself? Stay tune as I will share this fabulous meat-free recipe in my next blog post!
NO burger buns NO bacon NO onions to enjoy these beef patties!
We were enjoying these meat patties in true Japanese style!

... with steamed rice and cooked vegetable!
Lean and yet very juicy!
美味しい oishii!!!

"I would like to buy a ambur-er." said my husband and he couldn't stop repeating this phrase during our entire dinner. He was trying to be silly, acting like Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movie! And my son couldn't stop giggling!


Here's the recipe that is very modified from the book, Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat

Serves 4-5

For the hamburg:
3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra to use for shaping the patties if required
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) panko crumbs
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
500g mince beef - ok to use lean beef and can be substitute with 250g mince pork plus 250g mince beef 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 large egg

For the tangy tomato sauce:
1/4 cup (60ml) cooking sake
1/4 cup (60ml) worcester sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
Note: Strangely, my sour-food-loving son thinks this sauce is too tangy for him but my husband loves it! If you think that the sauce is too sour for you, you can reduce the added worcester sauce to 1-2 tbsp.

To finish:
5-10 slices tasty cheese, to melt
finely chopped parsley leaves, to sprinkle

To cook the hamburg:
Place a baking rack in the highest position in your oven and preheat oven at 180°C/350ºF with top grill function.

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir for about 5 mins, until nicely browned and softened. Remove from heat and set aside to allow the onion and garlic cool to room temperature.

Combine panko and milk in a large mixing bowl and allow the mixture to sit and rest for at least 5 mins or until the panko has completely absorbed the milk. Add pork, beef, salt, soy sauce, egg and the cooked onions and garlic into the panko mixture. DO NOT wash the frying pan!!!

Use your hands (with or without food handling gloves) to mix all until all are well incorporated. Divide mixture into 4 to 5 equal portions. Lightly dab your hands with oil to stop the meat from sticking on your hands. If you are wearing food handling gloves, you don't have to dab your hands with oil. Shape each portion of the meat into a patty that is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Using two of your finger, make a slight indentation in the center of each patty and this will prevent the patty from puffing up as it cooks.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the same large frying pan over medium heat. Place the patties in frying pan and cook on one side for about 6-7 min. Flip and cook the other side for about 6 mins or until the patty is cooked through. Check if the patty is done by poking it with a skewer. If the patty's juice is clear, it shows that it has been completely cooked. Please do not over-cook the patty or it will be too dry!

Transfer the patties into a baking tray lined with baking paper and DO NOT wash the frying pan yet!!! Place 1 or 2 slice/s of cheese on each patty depending on how cheesy you like. Bake for 5 mins at the highest position or until the cheese is fully melted.

While baking, cook the sauce:
Heat the same frying pan that cook the hamburg with the lowest heat. Add sake and use a silicon spatula or a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Let the alcohol in the sake to be completely cook off for about 1-2 min. Remove from heat and stir in Worcester sauce and ketchup. When the sauce is cooled slightly, the sauce with the beef juice will be thickened slightly on its own. 

Transfer all to a serving plate. Garnish with a pinch of finely chopped parsley leaves. Serve with the tangy tomato sauce, steamed rice and cooked vegetable. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking
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  1. I actually though it was humbug LOL!!!. Maybe they forgot the er at the end . anyway it still sounds and looks delicious

  2. Other than the sauce that you prepare, this is almost like a meatloaf recipe. In the old country (Poland) burgers are made with egg, some sort of starch filler, saute'd onions, and seasoning. Hamburger here is just the plain ground beef. My mother-in-law and I had an early in the marriage discussion about this. She was trying to make her English daughter-in-law into a Polish cook. She did in many other ways, but I stood firm on the burgers.

    1. Hi Marylyn, This is a Japanese-fusion dish that has evolved with times. To me, there is no specific right or wrong way of cooking or enjoying a hamburg or a hamburger... And this is just the way many Japanese or Asians like our hamburger. Thus, many traditionalists would say this is not a hamburger, it is a hamburg!!!

  3. Wow! It looks great! I love to try new recipes! I am trying this one for the first time so going with chicken! Will give it a try with beef the next time!

  4. Yummy! My boyfriend did a version of this for his family dinner and it's definitely a winner all around and everyone seems to like this.