Sometimes You Just Want a Hambagu!

If you shop when you’re hungry, then you’ll come home with a surprise. My plan was to cook a new dish from Hiroko Shimbo’s book (The Japanese Kitchen): pork belly braised with daikon, then simmered in a flavorful sauce involving hours and hours of cooking time. As I looked at the displays of fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats many quick and simple possibilities lured me toward one of the fastest meals I could cook. Japanese-style hamburgers are delicious! As soon as I saw a package of ground veal on sale, I knew what would be my dinner.
Hambagu is usually made with a mix of pork and beef so they are nice and juicy (rich: fatty)—just like the ground veal! And mushrooms looked firm and plump…

makes 4 large patties
The Burgers

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • ½ yellow onion, finely minced, sautéd light gold
  • 1 clove garlic, grated, and added later to the onions
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 Tablespoons saké
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons dark miso
  • ½ cup panko (breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl. Knead with your hands to ensure even distribution. The Japanese will often gather the meat mixture, lift it, and throw it back with force into the bowl, repeating this action 4 or 5 times. The mixture will be fairly soft, but the tossing ensures the meat will hold together. Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal portions, and shape each portion into an oval patty about 4 inches long, 2 ½ inches wide, and ¾ inch thick.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let the patties rest in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so that the flavours in the meat mixture can develop.
Heat some vegetable oil in a pan. Slide the burgers in and cook. Remove burgers and keep warm while you make the sauce. Drain excess fat.

The Sauce

  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon butter to fry the mushrooms
  • ½ cup all natural beef concentrate, (1 packet stirred into water)
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Fry the mushrooms in butter in the pan you used for frying the burgers. If there is a lot of good stuff browned on the bottom of your pan, deglaze with 2 Tablespoons of water.
Combine the beef stock concentrate, ketchup, mirin, and soy sauce. Add the mixture to the pan and heat.

To serve, put the hambagus on a plate with glazed carrots and plain white rice. Putting the rice on a plate makes this a yoshoku (Western-style) meal. Or serve with steamed or fried or mashed potatoes. Spoon sauce over the burgers.

Other Hambaagu Recipes
Japanese-Style Hamburgers
Teriyaki Baaga:
Soy-Glazed Beef Burger

Cooking with Dog

12 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Want a Hambagu!

  1. ooh, ooh! Normally I’m not much of a hamburger eater but hambagu is something else! We had these often with curry sauce and steamed rice in Japan. Perfect for cold weather and foot weary travellers. Yours are making my mouth water!

    • MMM curry sauce. That does sound good!
      I’m wondering if the “Wind in the Pines” meatloaf might be dry because it needs a bit more fat? These are juicy because they have the calories!

      Once in a while, about 2 or 3 times a year, I like a big mac! But home-made burgers are in a different realm.

  2. Hey Tess! Now I’m seeing your sweet face! Love your sunnies! I had some prized, large, square frames from the 70’s but *sigh* I left them on a train…hopefully someone found them and loved them too.

    Yes I had the same thought about the Wind in the Pines – very lean and healthy but you know it grew on me. I cut the leftovers into discs with a small cookie cutter and put them into lunch boxes with a sesame and seaweed salad.

    Did I tell you that I made your sesame crackers the other day? They were addictive!

    • I got my big sunglaseslast spring on the long driving weekend to Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, OH from a street vender: 2 pairs for $10!! What a find!

      Great idea for the chicken loaf! That recipe is certainly worth more experimentation. I just had the leftovers cut into ordinary squares for lunch and to tell the truth I liked them cold—they’d be great for a party as something that could be made ahead.

      While writing the post about rice porridge I came across this article about historic foods. Scrolling down that page, there is a description of using savory custards in clear soup. Don’t you think something like this could be done with a firm thin chawan mushi, cut into flowers with Japanese vegetable cutters?

      I was just thinking about those senbei! Well, I was thinking about the edamame dip that I made with them. It’s time to use that recipe again!

  3. Tess dear, thank-you for that link! What an interesting idea using the savoury custards to decorate a consomme! I love clear soups! I think the chawan mushi would be perfect to use this way – both pretty and tasty and this treatment would leave it very tender. A nice wobbly tofu cut this way might be nice for a miso soup…

    As regards the senbei I ended up using extra rice and wheat flour to make my dough less sticky and rolled it extra thin. The first batch I misread your directions and used 2 tabs miso but strangely these were quite nice too. I cut them into leaf and flower shapes as a nod to the Season and they were very moreish. Thank-you for sharing the fruits of your research!

    Have you seen the book Dashi and Umami? The reviews sound interesting…might be worth requesting the local library to buy I’m thinking.

    Have you any Autumn haiku in your head?

    Carolyn Xx

    • Carolyn! I just knew you would enjoy that link. It’s inspiring: one could make a sort of plain chawan mushi sort of custard with chicken broth to serve in a katsubushi dashi clear soup, or base the custard on shiitake and kombu, or some other Japanese-flavored custard. And you are right, a nice soft tofu cut into decorative shapes: subtle, simple, …

      Ms. Shimbo has an egg flower soup that I made a few times. But it’s before I started this blog. It’s not a custard, and it’s not cut into shapes. Oh, I’ll have to post about it soon.

      Is this the recipe you tried for the rice crackers? I have 3 different but related recipes here. This one, I don’t recall having any problem with the dough being sticky. (???) Half is with black sesame seeds, and the other is with white sesame seeds.

      No, I’ve not heard of that book. The title sounds interesting: Dashi and Umami could be anything from basic “stuff you might put into soup” to philosophy. (Sorry, is that just a way to say the title is so vague as to be all encompassing and Tessie should just take a look…—I will because you recommend it.)

      As for autumn haiku, I was thinking to ask you for some inspiration for this (your) season. When I get home (now that daylight savings time has ended—does Australia do “daylight savings time?”—it is suddenly dark, dark dark when I get home. And you, experiencing the approach of spring… for me Autumn is already over though it was still warm enough today to go without a jacket; the light is gone.

      beyond this, I don’t know:

      “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
      – Albert Camus

      For now, here, we have moved to grey days now. So, please an inspiration of light?

  4. If Popeye’s friend Wimpy wrote a haiku, I’ll bet it would go something like this:

    I’ll gladly pay you
    Tuesday for a hambagu
    from Tess’s kitchen

    So would I– they sound delicious!!

  5. Omigosh!

    A reply complete with perfect-choice embedded Popeye cartoon?? I laughed so hard I popped the lid off me spinach can!

    No wonder your recipes are so good– you think of everything! Thanks a heap!

    • My cats are hoping to laugh so hard—
      when it comes to their daily dose of canned food.
      (Guess my humor is not enough to serve their pleasure…
      no lids popping off)

      You know there is an “I Love Lucy” episode (not one of the better ones) with this same theme? It’s the one where each couple opens a hamburger joint and they compete to serve a customer? The customer is a bit more “brer rabbit” and orders 100 hambergers…

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