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Hambāgu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)

For Alan Yau of Calgary’s Y93 Sushi Crave, cooking equates to happiness. “I grew up with Japanese comics and cartoons – my absolute faves,” Chef Yau explains. “And they taught me the happiness of cooking!”

As a Japanese Café or Kissaten (tea or coffee shop), Y93’s menu is extensive, but Chef Yau names sushi as his favourite. While the ingredients are simple, each piece takes incredible skill to create. “I think that’s why I love creating sushi. You can see the dedication and craft in just the way the rice is cooked. Sometimes the most complicated art is the one that looks most simple.”

But don’t let the idea of complicated art discourage you from trying your hand at Japanese cuisine. Focus instead on the ingredients: “It’s important to not over season, especially soy sauce or spicy mayo. Try to taste the flavour of the ingredient itself.”

In Japanese households, Hambāgu is a popular, versatile, and easy-to-make dish. A single-served meatloaf glazed with a sweet and savoury sauce, it goes well with salads, rice, and even pasta. Every Japanese home chef (aka ‘Mom’) has their own recipe. “Sometimes mom will “hide” chopped vegetables in the patty to trick their picky eating child. This also creates a unique ‘taste memory’ for their family.” And when it comes to tips on making it, there’s only one: “Remember to toss the patty! It binds the meat together creating a more tender and juicier patty.”


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