Japanese Hamburger: Hambaagu or Hamburg?

It’s day three of the 2012 London Olympics and I’m slightly at a loss for words. Perhaps it’s exhaustion from our busy weekend (which I will happily share in a separate post), or because our DVR wasn’t working Sunday night when I couldn’t stay up to watch swimming, or perhaps I’m feeling a bit off because my left knee is having unusual joint issues. Instead of my weekly gym date with my BFF Monday night, I opted to be a couch potato, rest my uncooperative knee, watch the Olympics and look through my inventory of un-posted, yet not forgotten food photos.

It’s been a while since I shared a favorite childhood dish so I am sharing my Mom’s Japanese hambaagu (that’s Jenglish for hamburger). Japanese hambaagu is a classic Japanese family dish. I’m certain that every (non-vegetarian) kid in Japan has eaten hambaagu at one time or another. It’s one of those dishes you find on the menu of every family restaurant or kissaten (cafe) in Japan, or a Japanese-American home in the U.S.

Oh, and just a sidebar, but if you go to a Japanese restaurant in the U.S. and they have “hamburg” on the menu. It’s not misspelled. It’s another term for referring to Japanese “hambaagu”. Gotta love Jenglish!

The only difference from the hambaagu recipe posted below and the one my Mom used to make for us is that I use ground turkey meat, instead of ground beef, and I let the hambaagu steam just a little. Japanese hambaagu is a Japanese version of an American hamburger, yet without the bun, mayo and vegetables. A more accurate translation of the Japanese hambaagu, is meatloaf. Yes, I think hambaagu is more like individual meatloaf patties.

My Mom serves hambaagu with gohan (rice), miso shiru (miso soup), a cooked vegetable such as broccoli or cauliflower, and a salad. For our hambaagu sauce, we usually made it ourself, which was a mixture of our preferred amount of ketchup and okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce. My Dad prefers his hambaagu with black pepper and mayonnaise. He likes to keep things real!

Mom’s Hambaagu

for the patty:

  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 slice bread (I use “shokupan” – Japanese sandwich bread)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Salt and pepper
for the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup okonomiyaki sauce (or tonkatsu sauce)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons ketchup

1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients for the hambaagu patty. Using your hands, mix until well-incorporated.

2. Make patties about 3/4 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

3. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pan with lid. Cook patties for about 5 minutes on each side. Pour a little water into the pan, just enough to cover the pan, and close with lid to steam the patty (about 2 minutes) until the water evaporates.

4. Mix sauce ingredients and serve, or use ketchup, soy sauce or other condiment of choice.

Corned Beef Hash & Summerpalooza

Our summer is heating up with activities very quickly. This weekend Bebe E starts a soccer for tots class and Bebe E just finished up basketball for tots. We also started obon odori practice, which is a Japanese dance for the summer obon festivals. (Click here for my post on obon and okinawa dango, a Japanese sweet donut). Bebe E loved her first dance practice and especially the popsicle that was offered during break!

This week, Bebe E is swimming up to three times at a new swim school.  The time we need to get ready, drive to school, take our lesson, change and head back home for me to prepare lunch, essentially takes up half our day. After lunch we usually do arts and crafts, and Bebe E is happily making great use of a new little easel that we picked up. Afterwards, we have story time with a few favorite books from her collection or borrowed from the library, and then it’s nap time.

Oh nap time.  How I love nap time, but not because I get to sleep too. Ok, ok, I confess once in a while I have been known to catch a few zzz’s out of sheer exhaustion…

What I enjoy about nap time is that it’s the best time for me to knock off a few chores, prep a few items for dinner, and have a moment of quiet time. I used to blog during her nap time, but recently I’ve been slowly working on my new website and for the next few weeks I’ll be folding “tsuru” or Japanese origami cranes.

A very dear friend of mine is getting married very soon and I am helping to fold some of the 1,001 cranes that she needs to make her “senbazuru” (one thousand crane) wedding art display. So far, I’ve folded cranes for a number of girlfriends that got married, but I probably made the most cranes for our own wedding, specifically hundreds for our senbazuru wedding art display. It now hangs in our home, and when I look at it, I am reminded of our wedding and my family and friends that helped to make it.

Now, I am fortunate to give back and help a dear friend as an honored bridesmaid. Bebe E has been asking if she could do origami with the gold paper too, but that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. The paper is very small about 2″ x 2″ and the folded cranes are tiny. I gave her some colored origami to play with but she says it’s not the same. Since then, when she sees me folding cranes, she says, “AGAIN, mommy? How come you folding those AGAIN?” I just laugh. One of these days I need to share an origami blog post. For now, I share with you what the folded cranes look like in the photo below. They are about 3/4 ” tall and less than 1/2″ wide. Their wings are not down and their heads are not folded, but those are details that the “crane lady” will take care of. She is the master craftsperson who will arrange all 1,001 cranes into an artfully crafted display. I can’t wait to see my friend’s senbazuru display on her wedding day!

So what does corned beef hash have to do with folding cranes? Absolutely nothing. I bought corned beef on sale a while back and decided to make a late St. Paddy’s day corned beef meal and I used the leftovers to make a hash for brunch.

While I occasionally enjoy ordering corned beef hash when I dine out, I’m always skeptical about ordering this, and I’m always careful to ask whether the corned beef is homemade. I will now confess that when I was pregnant, I often had cravings for corned beef hash and I was so desperate for it that I often asked my husband to buy me canned corned beef hash. I was bed ridden, so at least I made it more convenient for my husband rather than demand that he make it from scratch?!? Not to worry, Bebe E, despite my cravings I only ate this once in a while during your 9-month gestation.

This corned beef hash is very easy to make, especially when you’ve got leftover corned beef available (click here for my recipe).

Corned Beef Hash

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups chopped corned beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (original recipe calls for heavy cream)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender.

2. In a frying pan, sautee onions and bell pepper in olive oil until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add potatoes and let them brown for about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, simmer for about 1 minute. (Original recipe calls for heavy cream but it seemed to rich so I opted to use chicken stock.)

4. Add chopped corned beef, thyme and flat leaf parsley and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

Pictured above is Bebe E’s “hand art” that she created all by herself using her new easel and paints. I was cleaning up the kitchen when I noticed she was repeatedly running back and forth from her easel to the bathroom. I asked her what she was doing, and she would simply reply, “washing my hands, mommy”. No harm in that, right? She later called me over to show me what she made and I was surprised to see her beautiful artwork. I realized that every time she painted her hand a different color she would wash it out to use new colors. What can I say, I am a very proud mommy!

What’s next? Aside from our summerpalooza activities, we’ve got a trip to San Diego Zoo planned, a few birthday parties, a couple of Obon festivals, and a possible trip to Lego Land and the Aquarium as well. As we immerse ourselves in summer time activities, I would like to encourage readers to consider becoming a fan of my Facebook page, Bebe Love Okazu. Here, I will be sharing some of our summer time bento dishes and a few other food related tidbits and family activities that I might not have time to upload on my blog, until much later. As in, possibly after my new website is done, until the cranes are folded, until my bridesmaid duties are completed and my good friend is happily married. :)

Happy 4th of July!


Kansai Style Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savory Pancake)

The other night I had leftovers from an okonomiyaki dinner we had with my brother (who was a bachelor for the weekend) and my “sista-from-another-mother” (a.k.a – Aya-chan) and her boyfriend, N.

That night, I made my family’s Hiroshima – style okonomiyaki, but with the leftovers I made Kansai – style okonomiyaki. Several key ingredients had already been consumed, namely the soba noodles, moyashi (bean sprouts) and satsuma-age (fried fish cake), but the leftover cabbage and meat were perfect for my Kansai – style okonomiyaki.

The Kansai region represents six prefectures including Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo which make-up Western Kansai, and Nara, Shiga and Wakayama which make-up Eastern Kansai. Kansai – style okonomiyaki is where the okonomiyaki batter is mixed together with ingredients, and then cooked.  On the other hand, Hiroshima – style okonimiyaki is where the batter is first cooked into a thin omelette, then it is topped with layers of vegetables, meat, noodles and egg. (See my post on Hiroshima – style okonomiyaki found here.)

Having grown up eating Hiroshima – style okonomiyaki, both my brother and I prefer this style over Kansai – style okoomiyaki, however, I was quite pleased with the results and it was a wonderful and very easy way to use up our leftover ingredients – despite the fact that my yakisoba noodles were missing! Continue reading

Beef Tenderloin Roast

Happy New Year!

Thank you all for your friendship, love, kind words, encouragement, delicious food and good company!

May you all enjoy a healthy, prosperous and happy 2012!

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Soooooo….. Despite my comments regarding beef in my last post for 2011, I ended up cooking a rather LARGE piece of red meat for my family’s Christmas lunch….

….And then, Christmas came and went in a flash.

The days that immediately follow Christmas always feel slightly melancholy.

♥ Holiday music no longer plays on KOST 103.5 FM.
I love holiday music on the radio and I get excited when I first hear it playing mid-November, but always dread December 26th when I know it will cease to air. Sure enough, we’re driving on the 26th and no holiday music. On New Year’s Eve, Bebe Dada says, “What happened to the holiday music?” Ummm…..

♥ All the prettily wrapped presents are opened.
The excitement and anticipation of the kids opening presents that they had been looking forward to the weeks and days leading up to Christmas – comes and goes. Fortunately, as parents, we enjoy watching them play and enjoy the gifts they’ve received from family, friends and of course, good ol’ Santa, for some time even after the holiday has passed.

♥ The joy of planning our holiday meal(s) and the anticipation of feasting are over.
Despite the fact that I wasn’t looking forward to cooking this holiday season (mild case of cooking burn out), I enjoyed it nonetheless because I like feeding our family and it makes me happy when they in turn are happy eating the food I cook. Fortunately, the week after Christmas, we celebrate Japanese New Year with even more delicious gourmet osechi ryori (Japanese New Year’s food). I enjoy talking to my Mom about what I can help her to make during the week between Christmas and the 31st. I’ve vowed to learn a new dish each year and in 2011 I made _ _ _ _ _.  Post forthcoming!
While I’m sad that Christmas came and went in a whirlwind of activity, it was nothing less than spectacular.
* * * * * * * *

Continue reading

Prime Rib

I am a carnivore, and I love beef. Well, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for a short period of time, but it was beef that brought me back to being a carnivore once again. In fact, I can’t live without beef, especially prime rib, which is my favorite beef dish and that means Lawry’s is my favorite prime rib restaurant. I’ve celebrated several birthday dinners and special dates with Bebe Dada (who was my boyfriend at the time) at Lawry’s. Growing up, I also remember dining at this special restaurant with my parents for special occasions and entertaining guests from Japan. In my book, if there’s a special occasion to be celebrated, prime rib is the way to go… well, either that or sushi. :)

If I can’t eat prime rib on a special occasion, I am more than happy to order the filet mignon at Mastro’s, Flemings, Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris and at a number of our favorite steak houses in Las Vegas, but since we’ve been blessed with Bebe E’s arrival I am equally as happy eating a UDSA prime filet mignon purchased at Costco and cooked to perfection by Bebe Dada at home.

Unfortunately, as much as I love beef, I can only eat so much of it and I make a conscious effort when I cook for our family (or when I am dining out) to choose lower fat and lower cholesterol fish, chicken or turkey. That said, every once in a while, for a special occasion, a juicy piece of prime rib can be enjoyed guilt-free and with gusto. Continue reading