I love hamburgers, but for some reason my stomach doesn’t – the grease, the layers atop layers of ingredients, the high-calorie toll ….  Even the Japanese take on this typical American staple, the “hamburg steak” (aka a meatloaf-esque hamburger patty with no bun) can be heavy when it’s covered in the typical tonkatsu/ketchup sauce and topped with fried egg, potato slices, and whatever else fast food joints usually add to make you extra full.

Photo by Takashi H used under CC

Enter Cheapo Cooking Class 101. Our light and tangy version of the hamburg steak is perfect for a light lunch that will leave you energized.  It’s a simple, easy-to-make, inexpensive dish that’s sophisticated enough to serve at a not-so-cheap restaurant. Best served freshly made, but almost as delicious as an addition to your lunch box.

Ingredients (serves 2)

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Hamburg Steak

–       1 small onion

–       1 tbsp olive oil

–       250g mixture of ground beef and/or pork

–       1/3 tsp salt

–       pinch of black pepper

–       pinch of nutmeg

–       15 g panko (breadcrumbs)

–       2 tbsp milk

–       1 egg

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–       water (100 ml)


–       handful of shiitake mushrooms

–       quarter of daikon radish

–       ponzu sauce (citrus based)

–       2-3 shiso leaves


Heat the butter in a frying pan, and sauté chopped onion on medium until transparent and brown (around 5 minutes).  Put the onion in a bowl and let it cool. Then, season the meat with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and add the onions, breadcrumbs, milk, and egg  − really get in there and knead it all together until everything is uniformly mixed. Divide it in half and hand-shape each patty. You should remove the air from the meat by tossing it from palm to palm, which also helps prevent the patty from breaking up in the frying pan.  Push the center of each patty as well so it cooks faster.

Photo by yoppy used under CC

Once you have the patties shaped, let them sit for a while.  Now, time to sauté the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in the frying pan while slicing the mushrooms. Add into pan and toss occasionally until golden brown (around 8 minutes over medium heat). Place mushrooms aside for now.

Time for the patties! Fry patties in pan with olive oil.  Cook them until they are brown on each side.  Then, pour some water into the frying pan, add the mushrooms, and cover.  Let it sit until the water is pretty much evaporated.  This makes the hamburg and mushrooms extra moist and tender.

Finally, time to garnish the hamburg and mushrooms. Place some grated daikon radish and shredded shiso leaf on top of the patties and pour some ponzu sauce over them, making your hamburg especially zesty – and giving it a classy look.

The Shopping

You can get almost all of the necessary kitchenware at any 100-yen store, but my favourite has to be Seria. For a full description on this very awesome 100 yen store in Tokyo, check out our post here.

For the ingredients, I would recommend buying from one of the many Ozeki Supermarkets scattered throughout Tokyo.  Their selection is great quality for the price, and there are always special deals going on that will leave a little extra in your wallet.  We’ve written an article about Ozeki riiiight … here.

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Filed under: Eating & Drinking | Living
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