My love story with the Japanese Hamburger started the first time I came to Japan, already two summers ago.
Before facing 8 hours of night buses that would take me from Tokyo to Kyoto, still without lunch and hungry like never before, I slung myself into a small family restaurant in Akasaka area, near the hostel where I slept.
Unsure about what to order (especially in front of a menu entirely in Kanji) and eager to eat something luscious and delicious, I quickly ordered a Hambagu (Japanese Hamburger) dish that I had heard so much about, and which I was advised to try at least once.
While my imagination stimulated my appetite making me dream of a steaming piece of meat wrapped in vegetables and soft bread, I had a pleasant surprise when the kind waitress (probably the owner) cooked me and served a different far away from my expectation.
In a small, still steaming pan, an Hambagu was lying completely covered with a dark-colored sauce, with several grilled vegetables, onion rings and a small bowl of rice alongside.
At that moment my expression said it all: WOW! The smell, the sweet and sour taste of the sauce and the soft consistency of the meat that literally melted in the mouth made me fall in love with it.
If I had any minimal Japanese language skills I would have exclaimed to the lady the goodness of the dish. However, given my ignorance at the time, I had limited myself to offering her the classic gesture of Italian appreciation, which involves the sonorous smacking of the lips on the fingers that actually, in countries as far away from us as Japan, is not even recognized ( who knows what she though!?!?!).
Both of them see the same origin, but they are not the same thing!
Did you know that at the starch of the delicious and world-famous Hamburger we find a German recipe, in particular, from the city of Hamburg?
Trying to promote its food culture all over the world, they export their recipe “Hamburg-style Steak” everywhere and let me say, that they did a great job.
In America was revived wrapped in soft warm bread along with sauces and vegetables (Hamburger) while in Japan, with the name of Hambagu, accompanied by a bowl of rice and a thick sweet and sour sauce, it became a very popular dish both within the domestic wall than in fancy restaurants with western-style dishes (Yoshoku).
You can call it Hambagu or Japanese Hamburger, but it’s 100% sure that you should put it in your “To eat List” once here in Japan!
Easy to make, you just need a little of your time and some good ingredients to be able to propose a Western-looking dish with oriental flavors on your tables and to your friends!
The version I decided to cook includes more delicate and light flavors than the original recipe. The protagonists along with the meat are mushrooms, leeks and a few additions here and there of parsley. Cooking in the broth and the abundant presence of onion in the dough will ensure that your meat remains moist and soft.
I recommend accompanying everything with a good bowl of rice and a small soup aside!
2 tablespoons of oil
1 cup of Vegetable Broth
2 tablespoons of Sake
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 spoon of Mirin
1/2 teaspoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon of water
Start by preparing all your ingredients and dividing them into bowls. It will make the recipe easier and faster.
Wash and cut the leek, clean the mushrooms by removing the final hard part and chop the onion.
Combine the two tablespoons of sake with breadcrumbs to moisten it. Add the meat, the egg, a pinch of salt to taste and the breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix everything together.
Divide your dough into two and start giving it the shape of your Hambagu making it turn in the palm of your hands until it becomes oval.
Heat a saucepan with the tablespoons of oil and cook your Hambagu, until they reach a nice browning on both sides.
Then add the cup of vegetable stock, Sake, Soy Sauce and Mirin. When the water begins to boil, lower the heat.
You will notice that foam is forming on the surface. It is important to eliminate it as it will risk compromising the final flavor of your dish. You can do this with the help of a spoon or a ladle.
Add the previously cleaned and cut mushrooms, the leeks and cook for 5 minutes.
Last step: mix 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch with water, and add it to your Hambagu. It will allow you to make the little cooking broth more thick and easy to serve.
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