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  • Writer's pictureM Smith

Japanese Hambagu Steak ハンバーグ

Hambagu is a type of Yoshoku -Japanese cooking style popularized during the Meiji era when Japanese Chefs and homecooks began to seek out western-style food, but still heavily influenced by Japanese flavours and ingredients. My other favourite types of Yoshoku dishes are Omurice, Naporitan Spaghetti and Doria. We’ll make those another time.

Hambagu steak origin’s date back to 1800 Hamburg, Germany, spreading across the world by travelling immigrants from Hamburg. I could go into a full account; However, I think I would do a poor job at it, and I personally get annoyed by a long blog post where I have to scroll forever to get to a recipe. Here’s the full history of the Hambagu and Hamburger, if you want to learn about it. It’s cool; I recommend reading it but also, no pressure.

There’s an American version of Hambagu Steak called Salisbury Steak,, also brought over by German immigrants from Hamburg.

So what is Hambagu? Hambagu is a tender, aromatic mini-meatloaf covered in a beautiful demi-glaze. Not too heavy, but still filling. It’s also very economical to make. Ground beef (I also use pork in mine), panko, onions, eggs, and milk makes up the meat base, while the sauce is a mixture of ketchup, beef broth, Worcestershire and Tonkatsu sauce. The Hambagu is traditionally served with rice and not a bun.

I’ll include my recipe below :)

Note: A suggestion from a reader was to include the cost per serving. Assuming you already have rice, ketchup, flour, milk, butter, salt and pepper, I’ll work out the cost per serving for the rest of the ingredients.

Disclaimer: different geographical areas and stores will have different prices. My calculations are based on The Greater Toronto Area.

This recipe serves six.


  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef

  • ½ lb. ground pork

  • 1 onion

  • 2 egg

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

  • Salt and pepper (to season)

  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • ½ cup beef stock

  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Tonkatsu sauce


  • Rice

  • Vegetable of your choice. I used peppers and zucchini. Though I also serve this with broccoli as well.


  • Cook your rice, whichever way you want. I use my 20-year-old rice cooker.

  • Chop your onion finely and sauté in a frying pan until soft and slightly caramelized; set aside to cool. Combine your eggs, panko and milk into a bowl, and mix lightly. I don't always combine the eggs, panko and milk separately; However, it does make it easier to combine into the meat mixture later.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine your ground beef, ground pork, cooled onions, salt and pepper. Dump in your panko mixture and combine.

  • TIP: Don’t knead your meat mixture. If you over-knead it, or your patties will be tough. Gently fold all the ingredients together with your hands until the texture is slightly sticky.

  • Split the mixture into 6 balls, forming each ball into an oval-shaped patty. Toss each patty from one hand to the other - repeatedly - about 5 to 6 times. This process releases the air trapped inside your patty mixture. Removing the air ensures your patties don’t crack while cooking. Cover your patties with a damp towel, and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  • Heat your oil in your frying pan, cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add 1/4 cup of hot water in the pan, and pop on a lid to steam the Hambagu. Cook the patties until the juices run clear. Transfer your cooked patties onto a plate

Tip: While your Hambagu is cooking, sauté or steam your vegetables of choice.

Sauce Instructions

  • Add your butter and flour to the same frying pan you cooked your Hambagu patties in. Stir until the flour is cooked. Add in your beef stock, stirring until combined, and there are no lumps from the flour. Add your ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and Tonkatsu sauce. Continuing to stir the sauce until combined and thickened - pour over your Hambagu steak to serve.

Serve with rice and your choice of veggies and if you want some Kewpie Mayo. I like to top my rice with furikake.

The cost!

Assuming you have the rice, ketchup, flour, milk, butter, salt and pepper in your pantry and only have to buy the other ingredients - this entire meal works out to be $3.27 per portion (the Hambagu steak and the veggies)

The Breakdown

  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef ---> $6.51

  • ½ lb. ground pork ----> $2.54

  • 1 onion --> $0.50

  • 2 egg --> $0.75

  • 1 ½ cup panko breadcrumbs ---> $1.89

  • Vegetables: Zucchini and Peppers --> $4.25

  • Stock - $3.19

Total: $19.63

I didn't include the Worcestershire or the Tonkatsu sauce, because those will be one time purchases and can keep in your fridge for 6 months. Each sauce cost between $5.69 - $6.99 per bottle.

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