Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

Photo Credits: instagram.com/tempting_plates

Hambagu with Cherry Compote

Serves: Serves 4


  • ½ (6.8 oz, 192 g) large onion
  • 1 Tbsp. oil for sautéing onion
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ lb (14 oz, 386 g) combination of ground beef and ground pork (Please read Notes)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • ⅓ cup (20 g) panko
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. oil for cooking Hambagu
  • ¼ cup red wine

Cherry Compote Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

  • 4 1/2 cups pitted fresh (or frozen, thawed) Bing cherries (about 20 ounces)
  • 1 cup brandy or orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Chop the onion finely. With the knife tip pointing toward the root, slice the onion to within ½ inch of the base. Make about ¼ inch parallel cuts. Then slice the onion horizontally about ¼ inch parallel cuts. Then cut perpendicular to the first slices you made. If the onions need to be chopped finer, you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife, otherwise the onions are going to go flying around the room.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and let it cool.
  4. Add the meat in the bowl and mix all together.
  5. Add an egg, milk, Panko, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg.
  6. Mix the meat well with your hands until the mixture gets sticky. If you want to keep your hands clean, use rubber gloves or use plastic bags.
  7. Pinch off 2 inch from the mixture and make 4 large patties (or 6 medium patties). Toss each portion from one hand to the other hand repeatedly about 5 times in order to release air inside the mixture (see the video link above). The hamburger steaks will crack while cooking if you don’t release the air inside.
  8. Make oval shape patties. The top shouldn’t be flat, more like round. Keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking so that the meat combines together.
  9. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and place the patties gently on the pan. Indent the center of each patty with 2 fingers because the center of patties will rise with heat.
  10. Cook the patties about 5 minutes. Do not flip until nicely browned.
  11. After you flip, pour red wine and lower heat to medium low heat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes to thoroughly cook the inside of the patties (adjust cooking time depending on thickness).
  12. Then uncover and increase heat to medium high to let the red wine evaporate. When it’s almost gone, transfer steaks into individual plates. Do not wash the pan.
  13. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large heavy saucepan; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until cherries are softened and start to release juices, about 10 minutes.
  14. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cherries to a medium heatproof bowl.
  15. Simmer juices until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 15–20 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over cherries. Serve warm.
  16. When the sauce thickens, pour the sauce over the hamburger steaks. Serve the hamburger steak with vegetables over your favorite side dish.


  • The good ratio for hambagu is 65% ground beef and 35% ground pork. I usually make with roughly 50-50 for convenience.
  • You can make hambagu with 100% beef, however it will not be as juicy and soft as combined meat.

Credits to: justonecookbook.com/hamburger-steak-hambagu ; bonappetit.com/recipe/cherry-compote