Hamburg Steak is like the macaroni and cheese of Japan. It's an easy comfort food loved by kids and grownups alike, and it's a staple of home cooking. This is probably why there are dozens of variations. Although I love the original, this lighter version is made with renkon (lotus root) and ground chicken, making it lighter, and yet it's no less juicy.
Lotus root is a rhizome buried in the silt at the bottom of ponds that the plant grows in. Although it looks solid from the outside, the root is hollow, with a decorative pattern of holes and a crisp texture. Nutritionally it's loaded with fiber and vitamins, making it a great way to bulk up dishes like this.
The trick is to grate it and then drain off the excess water. The roots contain just enough starch to bind everything together while keeping the lean patties juicy and flavorful.
Speaking of flavor, I've added some konbu cha (kelp tea, not the fermented beverage) to this, which is a great natural way to boost umami in anything.
I served these Renkon Hamburg Steak with grated daikon and ponzu, along with some chopped scallions to keep them light. These are also delicious by adding a 50:50 mixture of ketchup and chunou (or tonkatsu, or okonomiyaki) sauce to the pan and mixing them into the pan drippings. Another idea is to serve them with gravy and a fried egg over rice to make Loco Moco.
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