Umami Mart Registry

The Japanese dish hambagu derives from the Hamburg steak. Hamburg steak is the patty of a hamburger. Hamburg Steak were usually served with a side of potatoes in Germany. The Americans put the Hamburg steak in bread -- hence the hamburger. The Japanese appropriated the Hamburg by serving it with rice, of course. Eventually the Japanese called all patties hambagu (ハンバーグ), whether it was made out of beef, chicken or pork. And they minced and chopped vegetables, breadcrumbs, etc. into it.

This recipe is for a chicken hambagu. And it deviates even further from the original Hamburg steak, by using teriyaki sauce instead of gravy.

I will admit that tonight was another one of those panic nights where there wasn't much left in the fridge. This is what I had to work with: ground chicken, tofu and the usual suspects (green onions, shiitake and ginger). But I wanted something home-cooked to go with some rice.

This recipe calls for lots of condiments, but little fuss. You can adjust ingredients to your liking by adding more meat if you are feeling hearty or using only tofu instead of the meat if you are vegetarian. The most labor intensive part is getting all of the ingredients out onto the kitchen counter.

Makes 9 patties (2-3 per serving)


1/2 lb of ground chicken
1/2 package of firm tofu, drained of as much water as possible
4-5 green onions
2 shiitake
1 egg
1 tbsp of grated ginger
2 tbsp of potato or corn starch
1 tbsp of sake

Teriyaki Sauce
1/3 cup of water or dashi
2 tbsp of mirin (you can substitute this with 1 tbsp of sugar)
1 tbsp of sake
1 tbsp of soy sauce
Water and potato starch mixture (premix 1 tbsp of water with 1 tbsp of starch)


1. Mince the shiitake and green onions. Save one green onion stalk for garnish (quarter lengthwise and then cut into 1-inch pieces).

2. To drain the tofu, wrap it in a paper towel and place on a flat plate. Add weight to the top (another plate is ideal) and let the tofu sit for about 30 minutes.

3. As you wait for the tofu to drain, make the teriyaki sauce. Combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients above and heat in a sauce pan until the mixture thickens. It will happen pretty quickly, about two minutes. Keep mixing and don't take your eyes off of it. Once it has thickened to a waffle-syrup consistency, take it off the heat.


4. In a big bowl, mix ground chicken, firm tofu, minced onions and shiitake, egg, ginger, potato or corn starch and sake. Generously salt (about a teaspoon) and mix very well with your hands.


5. Prepare a space to place the patties as you shape them. My patties were about 3/4 of an inch thick and 3 inches wide.


6. Once you are done shaping the patties, heat some oil in a frying pan. Fry the patties on medium high. I fried them for 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on these as they may burn quite quickly.


7. After they have cooked, plate them and top them with the teriyaki sauce you made earlier. Garnish with the strips of green onion.

8. And, here's the best part... you'll most likely have leftovers to freeze and cook for the days when you are in a pinch!


This chicken hambagu is a great weekday dinner option since it fills you up but isn't greasy. I enjoyed my hambagu with some rice and tsukemono. Teriyaki sauce is the best when you make it yourself. I find teriyaki sauce outside of the home to be too sweet and gloppy.


Life is good when you can watch last night's Colbert Report with a plate full of hambagu and a bowl of steamed, hot rice in front of you. Itadakimasu!
Column: Japanify


  • Yeah, I was cursing myself for forgetting about the bag of red shiso I had in my fridge!

    yoko on

  • If you have shiso growing on your planter, put bunch of chopped ones, and it adds a very refreshing flavor.

    Moto on

  • We made these last night and they were great! Thanks so much for the recipe. We’d make more sauce next time, I think :)

    Gloria on

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