Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) is the Japanese transliteration of the Hamburger steak.
When the hamburger was introduced to Japan is not sure, but, it was already served the Hamburg as “German steak” or “Minchi ball” in restaurants, around the Meiji era. (1868 – 1912)
It is said that this meatball dish idea probably came from Salisbury steak, which originates from the US.
Salisbury steak is an American classic dish, which is made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients served with gravy or brown sauce.
Since Salisbury steak is a version of Hamburg steak, the Japanese might name it “Hambāgu”.
Grond beef (and pork) were relatively affordable in Japan, so Hambāgu has become a very popular menu.
- What’s The Japanese Hamburg Steak?
- Staple Types Of Hambāgu Dish In Japan
- Hambāgu AND Hamburger Are Different Dishes In Japan
- How To Make Stewed “Nikomi” Hamburg
What’s The Japanese Hamburg Steak?
Japanese-style Salisbury steak aka Humburg Steak is supreme, juicy, tender, fluffy, ground beef and pork mix patty almost meatball served with several types of sauce such as Tonkatsu sauce, demi-glace sauce, tomato sauce, “Wafu” Japanese soy sauce-based sauce, tomato ketchup, etc…
In Japan, the standard ground meat is beef & pork mix, which brings the juicy, meaty, and tender hamburg steak.
Also, soaked Shokupan bread in milk is commonly used as one of the ingredients, which also brings super-fluffy hamburg steak.
Therefore, Japanese Humburg steak is totally different from what you think of beef patties or Italian meatballs.
Staple Types Of Hambāgu Dish In Japan
- Hambāgu served with western-style sauces
- Hambāgu served with Japanese-style sauces
- Stewed Hambāgu in Tomato sauce (called Nikomi Hambāgu)
- Tofu Hambāgu
- Menchi Katsu
- Loco moco
Hambāgu served with western-style sauces
The most common Hambāgu sauce is demi-glace sauce.
Demi-glace sauce is a classic French sauce made from beef stock, chicken stock, and even vegetable stock.
In Japan, we use this rich flavorful brown sauce, especially for Yoshoku, western-style dishes.
Hambāgu served with Japanese-style sauces
Japanese-style is called “Wafu” (和風) in Japanese, and Hambāgu with Japanese-style sauce is called “Wafu Hambāgu”.
Wafu sauce is surely made of soy sauce.
Also, grated fresh Daikon radish is served as a topping which brings a refreshing flavor to juicy Hambāgu and is often called “Oroshi Hambāgu”.
Stewed Hambāgu in Tomato Sauce
Stewed Hambāgu in Tomato Sauce (or other sauces) is especially called “Nikomi Hambāgu” (煮込みハンバーグ).
My mom’s recipe is always Nikomi Hambāgu since you don’t have to worry about undercooked ground meat.
It also makes sauce rich and delicious by stewing Hambāgu in the sauce.
Tofu hamburger is made of all-tofu or partially added tofu to ground beef and pork.
Using tofu can help to reduce calories and also be expected to intake protein and fibers.
In case mixing Tofu and ground meat, tofu flavor will be actually gone, so it’s popular diet food in Japan.
First of all, the word “menchi” (メンチ) literally means ground beef and pork mix (as I said, the beef and pork mix is the standard ground meat in Japan, ) which comes from the English word “mince.”
Menchi katsu is deep-fried Hambāgu in a coating of breadcrumbs.
Menchi katsu is popular deli food/take-out food/ street food since it is hard to deep-fry perfectly at home.
It is often sold as the specialty at butchers in old-fashioned market streets in Japan called “Shoten-gai”.
Loco Moco (Don)
This popular Hawaiian cuisine is also popular in Japan.
Hambāgu, demi-glace sauce, runny sunny side up egg, sticky rice-all Japanese favorites.
Hambāgu AND Hamburger Are Different Dishes In Japan
It’s funny or confusing, but, it’s the fact in Japan that Hambāgu and Hamburger refer to two different dishes.
Hambāgu is the Japanese-style Salisbury steak, and hamburger (ハンバーガー) is literally a hamburger which a meat patty sandwiched with a round bun.
Moreover, we call hamburgers for the food not only with ground meat patties but also with any stuffing served between two halves of a round bun.
It seems like the sandwich dish served between two halves of a round bun is “a hamburger” and served between two pieces of bread is “a sandwich” in Japanese.