I love a great burger. And I especially rabuuuu Hambaaga. Which for those of you unfamiliar with Yoshoku cuisine, i.e. Japanese-Western food, is the Japanese version of a hamburger. It’s spelled both Hambaga and Hambaaga, and even sometimes spelled Hambaagu. Unlike a Western burger, the Japanese version is often served, not with buns, but with a thick demi-glace sauce and rice. Which makes it, in some ways, more similar to a French steak hache.
Like a great steak hache, a great Hambaaga depends on the quality of the meat you are using. S and I have become particularly partial to mixing wagyu rump and Berkshire pork belly (both of which we can easily get from Huber’s Butchery). We find that a 65% beef / 35% pork ratio is just about perfect. You need to use cuts of meat that aren’t too lean, or else your Hambaaga will be too dry. We also prefer to grind the meat ourselves. S likes a course ground. She says that it gives the burger a better texture and feel in the mouth.
Hambaaga, served with rice, is one of the easiest and most satisfying dishes you can serve to friends or simply to enjoy at home while watching TV. It also goes well with beer as well as a nice red wine. In other words, this is the perfect comfort food that can be dressed up for fancy occasions when the need arises.
Disgustingly Good Hambaaga
makes 8 patties
650g minced wagyu rump
350g minced pork belly, preferably Berkshire
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger and its juice
1 egg, beaten
60 ml Japanese soy sauce
40 ml mirin
30 ml Worchestire sauce
40g Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients (save the salt and pepper) in a bowl. Mix by hand until everything is mixed thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You want the meat to have a nice savouriness.
Make eight oval patties from the mixture and set aside on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with clingwrap and pop the tray into the fridge. You really shouldn’t keep these in the fridge for more than a day or so, so the best thing is to make them the day you want to serve them. That said, you will need to let the patties rest in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so that the flavours in the meat mixture can develop.
To cook these, slide them into a hot pan in which you have heated both some vegetable oil and sesame oil. You want these burgers to cook completely through. If you’ve used wagyu and berkshire pork, the patties will release a lot of fat during the cooking process.
To serve, put some hot rice (preferably Japanese) on a plate, place the Hambaaga patty on top or next to it and sauce the patty with some Japanese Hambaaga sauce. This you can find at any Japanese supermarket. The sauce is usually a rich, very thick soy-vinegar-meat glace that is sweetened with tomatoes and fruits, sometimes peaches or pineapple.