Japanese Seasoned Loose Meat Hamburger


1 – Introduction

In March 2022, I was reminiscing about a dish I had one time when I was in Tokyo, Japan. I was in the military at the time stationed at a base about an hour train ride from Tokyo, but I don’t remember why I was in Tokyo.

I got off at a train stop and I began walking around. I was hungry and I saw a restaurant with a caricature of a steaming bowl. The smell eminating from the restaurant was delightful, so I decided to go in. The restaurant served what I ended up calling Japanese beef bowl; thinly sliced beef in some kind of flavorful sauce over a bed of rice and topped with a fried egg. The dish was delicious.

I attempted to locate the restaurant when I went back to Tokyo on another occasion, but I was unable to locate the restaurant.

I decided to see if there was a recipe for the dish on the Internet. I used the search term “Japanese beef bowl” and I came across a recipe on the The Woks of Life site for gyudon, which is Japanese for beef and rice bowl.

There are a number of Korean grocery stores in my area, so I went to the closest one to find out the price of thinly sliced beef. The store I went to wanted $22 per pound for thinly sliced beef; too rich for my wallet. I then wondered if ground beef might work as a substitute, although you couldn’t eat the dish with chopsticks.

In December 2022, I was reminiscing about Maid-Rite loose meat hamburgers. I decided to search the Internet to see if there was a recipe for the sandwich and I found one.

While thinking about using ground beef to make gyudon, I then wondered if I could use the seasoning for the gyudon recipe to make a loose meat hamburger. I made my first batch of Japanese seasoned loose meat hamburger in December 2023 and it was so delicious that I didn’t need to use condiments on the sandwich.

This recipe is an adaptation of the gyudon and Loose Meat Sandwich (Maid-Rite Copycat) recipes.

2 – Recipe

Makes 4-6 sandwiches

2.01 – Recipe – Ingredients

  • 1 pound 90/10 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp mirin (see Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Hamburger buns

2.02 – Recipe – Directions

  • 01. In a large fry pan over medium to medium-high heat, add the onion, ground beef, and salt. Break up the ground beef using a spatula or spoon.
  • 02. Periodically stir the ground beef and onion to insure even cooking.
  • 03. Just after the ground beef completely browns, add the sugar, mirin, and soy sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
  • 04. Turn off the heat and serve on hamburger buns.

2.03 – Recipe – Notes

I like to use Sushi Chef brand mirin because it doesn’t contain corn syrup. Kikkoman brand mirin contains corn syrup and the bottle label doesn’t state that the corn syrup is non-GMO. I try to stay away from genetically modified food.

The cooked loose meat hamburger can be frozen and reheated later in a microwave. I like to put enough meat for one sandwich in Pyrex 1-cup glass storage dishes and then place the dishes in the freezer.

Loose meat hamburgers are messy, so I like to cut the sandwich into quarters and eat it with a fork.

I like to use the GreenPan SearSmart ceramic non-stick 12-inch diameter fry pan (no longer available) or the Made In blue carbon steel 12-inch diameter fry pan for my fry pan needs.

GreenPan SearSmart 12-in Fry Pan
GreenPan SearSmart 12-in Fry Pan
Made In Carbon Steel 12-in Fry Pan
Made In Carbon Steel 12-in Fry Pan

3 – Conclusion

As much as I like Maid-Rite loose meat hamburgers, I think this recipe is better. I will continue to make both recipes though. Let me know in the Comment box at the bottom of the page what you think of this recipe if you have tried it. Thank you for visiting.

Ingredients icon courtesy of Icons8
Directions icon courtesy of Icons8 via IconArchive
Notes icon courtesy of IconsMind via IconArchive


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