Japanese hamburger steak is deliciously tender and juicy. Yes, hamburger steak did not originate in Japan, however, it is one of the popular Yoshoku menu items and the Japanese have made their own tweaks to elevate the dish to be more delicious than the original. So I am going to share my hamburger steak recipe with secret ingredients.
What’s the difference between Japanese Hamburger Steak vs Hamburger Steak?
Yoshoku is Japanese versions of western-style dishes such as Korokke Japanese potato croquettes, Hayashi Rice and Chicken Nanban. Japanese hamburger steak is one of the popular yoshoku dishes in Japan. The main difference is that many Japanese hamburger steak recipes often add tofu and panko to make sure the hamburger steak is soft and juicy.
- Ground meat – Japanese often make hamburger steak from “Aibiki mince”. Aibiki is minced beef and pork combined. The larger the pork portion in the mixture the more tender the hamburger steak will be generally speaking. I add tofu and panko to make it even more tender so the best ratio of beef to pork is 80% : 20%.
- Tofu – this is my number one secret ingredient. Well, it is not so much a secret in Japan as this is a popular technique to add tofu when making hamburger steak. In Japan, people substitute expensive meat with cheap tofu to bulk up the volume of the hamburger steak.
- Panko – is the number two secret ingredient. Adding panko is also a popular technique to make the hamburger steak soft. It also acts as a great absorbent for the excess moisture from the tofu and meat.
- Onion – add subtle sweetness, umami flavour and aroma. In order to save cooking time, chop the onion super fine. Also, use a sharp knife to do the chopping, or the onion’s umami component will be lost if the fibre of the onion is squished by a blunt knife.
- Salt & Nutmeg – The protein adhesiveness increases with salt so that when the hamburger steak is cooked, it will hold the shape and not crumble. Nutmeg eliminates the meat smell and enhances the umami flavour.
Tips to Make Japanese Hamburger Steak successfully?
1. Caramelise Onion
Cut Onion finely with a sharp knife and cook with 1 tbsp of oil to caramelise the onion. Sweetness of the onion will be enhanced by caramelisation and it adds Umami to the Hamburger (process photos 1 and 2).
2. Add Tofu and Panko
Remove excess moisture from Tofu by cooking it in boiling water for 5 minutes. It sounds like doing the opposite but actually cooking tofu takes moisture out. After 5 minutes of boiling, wrap with a sheet of kitchen paper towel and leave it for 5 minutes. (Process photos 3 and 4)
3. The Ground Beef and Pork Ratio is 80:20
Mixing ground beef and ground pork makes the hamburger steak tender and juicy. You can change the ratio to you liking. If you like softer steak, add more ground pork. When I make hamburger steak stew, I make hamburger with ground beef and pork 50:50.
4. Knead All Ingredients As Quick As you Can
The salt and egg will keep all ingredients together because they work as a cohesive agent. If you knead the meat patty too long, the fat content will start to melt out and also umami flavour will be lost simultaneously. In order to avoid it, knead the meat quickly. To keep the meat cool, place the bowl of ground meat on to another bowl filled with ice.
5. Remove the Air Pockets of the Patties
Divide the knead patties into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into an oval shape and toss it between your hands firmly several times to remove the air pockets in the patties.
6. Shape the Patties 0.8 inch (2cm) thick and make an indent when frying.
Patties that contain air pockets are difficult to cook through because of the poor heat conduction. Make the pattie thickness about o.8 inch (2cm) thick and when you fry them and make an indent on the centre so that each pattie cook through evenly and quickly.
A: Yes you can. After you fry the hamburgers, cool them down completely. Then wrap them individually with cling wrap. Place them in a ziplock bag and freeze. It will keep for a month. Defrost in microwave and coat with sauce in a frying pan.
Variations of Japanese Hamburger Steak
There are many variations of Japanese hamburgers. I have shared Japanese hamburger steak with mushroom sauce on Chopstick Chronicles. So please check it out too if you liked the Japanese hamburger steak recipe.
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Japanese Hamburger Steak
- 1/2 of middle size onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 oz Silken tofu
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko crumbs *2
- 10 oz Beef and Pork ground meat *1 or 300g all together
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 4 tbsp Tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp Worstershire sauce
- 3 tbsp sake
- 2 tsp mirin
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook finely chopped onion until it caramelized. Let is cool completely.
- Boil water in a small saucepan and cook tofu for 5 minutes.
- Drain the cooking water and wrap the tofu with a sheet of kitchen paper.
- Place a small plate over the wrapped tofu and leave it for 5 minutes.
- Add the panko to the bowl and add beaten egg to the bowl.
- Add tofu by breaking it into small pieces with your hands.
- Add ground beef and pork, cooked and cooled onion to the mixing bowl.
- Knead all the ingredients with your hands until the mixture becomes uniform in colour and pasty.
- Divide the mixture into six equal portions.
- Roll the mixture into oval shaped patties.
- Toss the patties between your hands firmly several times to remove any air pockets out of the patties.
- Flatten the patties to about 0.8 inch (2cm) thick each and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over med to high heat.
- Place the meat patties in the pan and cook until one side is browned.
- Turn the patties over and cook other side till brown.
- While the patties are frying, mix together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Once the patties are fully cooked remove them from the pan and set them aside on a plate then cook the sauce in the pan. *3
- Heat the butter in the same saucepan, once the butter melts, add all sauce ingredients into the pan and bring it to simmer.
- Place the cooked patties back into the frying pan and coat with the sauce.
- Serve the Japanese hamburger steak with vegetables or sides you like, then drizzle the sauce on top.