The patties, a mixture of ground pork, beef, onion and panko, are fried until crisp. Hambagu (Japanese hamburger steak) may be served with different sauces. The traditional partner is rice.
Probably the most common hambagu is the glazed kind. After frying, the burger is brushed with a thick sweet salty sauce before serving. But in Osaka where chefs get really creative and competitive, hambagu is also served with curry, with white sauce or with a simple thin golden sauce that’s almost like broth.
The hambagu that Alex ordered at Matsunoya in Osaka was a sight to behold. Oversized. Arranged at the center of a shallow bowl and topped with grated radish, it seemed to float on a pool of thin golden brown liquid which seemed to be a cross between agedashi sauce and chicken nanban sauce. Too bad we weren’t able to take photos but it was around 10.00 p.m. and we were really starving.
When Alex did a home cooked version of hambagu, she formed the ground meat mixture into smaller patties. She also dredged the patties in more panko before frying. Why? Smaller patties mean more surface with extra panko and, after frying, there’s more crunch overall.
Hambagu is very simply seasoned. Just salt, a bit of pepper and some nutmeg. Finely chopped onions add both sweetness and bite. Panko and egg bind the meat together. And, to keep the patties extra moist, a bit of milk.
Hambagu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)
To make the patties
For the sauce
To cook the patties
- cooking oil for frying
Make the patties
- In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the patties.
- Form the mixture into patties (oval is traditional but round is just fine). How small or how large is up to you. Ours were about three inches in diameter.
- Dredge each patty in extra panko and make sure to coat every inch of the surface.
- Chill the patties to firm up the meat to make frying easier.
Make the sauce
- In a sauce pan, stir together all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Boil for a minute, uncovered.
- Set aside to cool.
Fry the patties
- In a frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of one inch.
- Over medium heat, fry the meat patties, in batches if your pan is rather small, in a single layer. When the underside browns (about two to three minutes), flip the patties to brown the opposite side.
- Drain the patties on paper towels.
Serve the hambagu
- Divide the patties among four shallow bowls.
- Pour sauce around the patties.
- Top with grated daikon and sprinkle with scallions.
- Serve the hambagu with rice.