My Tofu Hamburger Steak is made with a mixture of mince (ground meat) and tofu. It is not a vegetarian tofu patty, but it certainly has less calories than the conventional hamburger steak. You will be surprised at how soft and juicy my Tofu Hamburger Steak is.
In Japan, Tofu Hamburger Steak is called ‘tōfu hanbāgu’ (豆腐ハンバーグ). There are two versions of tōfu hanbāgu – a meat patty mixed with crumbled tofu and a patty made with tofu, without meat.
Most Japanese people think of the former patty when they hear the word tōfu hanbāgu. So people usually call the latter ‘nikunashi tōfu hanbāgu’ (肉なし豆腐ハンバーグ), meaning Tofu Hamburger Steak without meat.
Interestingly, the origin of Tofu Hamburger Steak is actually nikunashi tōfu hanbāgu. It was created by a chef named Takaya who was Michael Jackson’s personal chef while Michael was in Japan on the BAD Tour in 1987.
Since Michael was a vegetarian, Chef Takaya had to come up with numerous vegetarian dishes. After much trial and error, the chef came up with a tōfu hanbāgu without meat since Michael was fond of beans. Michael obviously liked it, as he ate it every day.
Since then Chef Takaya’s nikunashi tōfu hanbāgu evolved and Hamburger Steak with a mixture of mince/ground meat and tofu became more commonly consumed. The popularity of Tofu Hamburger Steak increased as consumers became more health conscious.
What’s in my Tofu Hamburger Steak
- Pork and beef mince/ground pork and beef
- Momen tofu/firm tofu
- Finely chopped onion
Supermarkets sometimes sell a pack of pork and beef mince, but you can also mix 50% pork mince and 50% beef mince like what I did.
You could use hard tofu, which contains less water than momen tofu. But the texture of the patties becomes a bit firmer with hard tofu. Silken tofu and extra hard tofu are not suited for this recipe.
Tomato Flavoured Sauce
This is not a typical Japanese-style sauce, except that it contains a bit of soy sauce. But I like the vivid orange colour, which is appetising.
- Tomato passata
- Soy sauce
- Chicken stock powder/cube (crumbled)
There are other sauces that go well with Tofu Hamburger Steak. In the subsequent section I listed 4 sauces (including today’s sauce) that you may want to try.
How to make Tofu Hamburger Steak
When I make meat patties, I usually sauté chopped onions before mixing them with meat. You can see how I sautéed the onions in my recipe Stewed Hamburg Steak. But today, I cooked the onions in the microwave. This is another effort to reduce the calories in today’s Hamburger Steak. See the video.
Preparing Onion and Tofu
- Put onions in a container and cook them in microwave.
- Dehydrate tofu in microwave, then press the tofu down to squeeze more water out.
You need to reduce the weight of the tofu by 25-30%. Insufficient dehydration will make the meat patty watery and too soft.
Making Tofu Hamburger Steaks
- Mix meat, salt, and pepper well in a bowl until the mince becomes like sticky paste.
- Add tofu to the meat mixture and mix well, breaking the tofu into small pieces.
- Add onion and egg to the bowl and mix well.
- Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and make 4 oval patties.
- Heat oil in a frying pan and cook patties until the bottom of the patties become dark brown.
- Flip the patties over, and cook for about 5 minutes at lower heat, with a lid on.
- Transfer the Hamburger Steaks to serving plates and pour the sauce over them.
I made 4 large patties, but you can make each patty smaller and make two small patties per serving if you wish.
Making Tomato Flavoured Sauce
You will need to make the sauce before your Tofu Hamburger Steaks are ready to serve. You can make the sauce at the beginning or while cooking the Tofu Hamburger Steaks.
- Add all the Tomato Flavoured Sauce ingredients to a saucepan, and heat over medium heat.
- Stir while heating until it starts bubbling.
- Turn the heat off.
This is a new sauce that I have not introduced to you. But some other sauces that I already mentioned in the past also go very well as an alternative.
Variety of Sauces for Tofu Hamburger Steak
The list below are the sauces that I think are great for Tofu Hamburger Steaks. I tried and liked all of them because they have different characteristics and add a quite different flavour to the dish. These sauces are:
- Tomato Flavoured Sauce – today’s recipe.
- Demi-Glace, per my recipe Demi-Glace, with a dash of soy sauce added to it.
- Ponzu with grated daikon as shown in my recipe, Beef with Daikon and Ponzu Dressing.
- Tonkatsu sauce – I used store-bought Bulldog brand sauce (see the sample photo in the section BULL-DOG – THE JAPANESE SAUCE COMPANY of my post Yakisoba). Bulldog Chūnō sauce also works.
Depending on your palate, and perhaps the side dishes to go with Tofu Hamburger Steak, you can decide which sauce to use. If you are calorie conscious, Ponzu with grated daikon is the way to go. It also gives you the most refreshing flavour to go with the dish.
Tomato Flavoured Sauce and Demi-Glace have more calories than the other two sauces. You might think that it is contradictory to use them on a Tofu Hamburger Steak, which is intended to reduce calories. But you will use only a couple of tablespoons of sauce, which is not a lot.
My nutrition calculation shows that 1 serving of Tofu Hamburger Steak without sauce is 316 calories as opposed to about 520 calories in the case of a meat-only Hamburger Steak. I think a few extra calories due to the rich sauce is justifiable.
Watch How To Make It
My Tofu Hamburger Steak is made with a mixture of mince (ground meat) and tofu. It is not a vegetarian tofu patty, but it certainly has less calories than the meaty Hamburger steak! See the video.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 300g/10.6oz momen tofu/firm tofu (note 1)
- 150g/5.3oz pork mince (note 2)
- 150g/5.3oz beef mince (note 2)
- 100g/3.5oz onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp oil
- 200g/7.1oz tomato passata
- 3 tbsp cream
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp soup stock powder/cube
Put chopped onion in a microwave-safe bowl and loosely cover the bowl with cling wrap.
Microwave the onion for 1½ minutes at 600W.
Remove the cling wrap and let it cool.
Wrap the tofu block completely using 3 pieces of kitchen paper (preferably connected) and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Place a microwave-safe flat plate on top of the wrapped tofu.
Microwave the tofu for 3 minutes at 600W.
Remove the kitchen paper, place the tofu back on the plate, then place a small flat plate or drop lid (no holes) on the tofu (note 3).
Hold the bottom of the plate and the top plate/drop lid with both hands and put pressure on the plate/drop lid on top.
Tilt the plate while pressuring the top and squeeze the water out of the tofu as much as you can. The goal is to reduce the weight of the tofu by about 25-30% of the original weight, i.e., 300g/10.6oz tofu becomes 210-225g/7.4-7.9oz.
Put pork and beef mince, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, flattening the minced meat pieces so that the mince mixture becomes pasty and sticky (See the video).
Add tofu into the bowl, break it in your hand into small pieces, and mix well. As you mix the meat and tofu, target the large tofu pieces and break them into small pieces. Tofu pieces should be no more than 5mm cubes, preferably smaller.
Add onion to the bowl and mix well. Add egg and mix well ensuring that all ingredients are evenly mixed.
Divide the mince into 4 equal portions (note 4).
Taking one portion at a time, make a ball in your hands.
Throw the mince ball from one hand to the other, like baseball players do. Do it a few times so that the air inside the mince mixture is removed.
Then, turn the ball into a flat oval shape of about 2.5cm/1" thick.
Put oil in a large frying pan and heat over medium heat.
Place 4 patties in the pan, and gently press the centre of each patty down so that the centre of the patty becomes slightly thinner than the outer part of the oval. This is because the centre bulges up when cooked.
Cook for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the patty browns nicely.
Flip the patties over, reduce the heat to medium low to low and place a lid on.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the Tofu Hamburger Steak is cooked through (note 5). Turn the heat off.
Transfer each Tofu Hamburger Steak to a serving plate and pour the Tomato Flavoured Sauce over it (note 6).
Put all the Tomato Flavoured Sauce ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil, stirring from time to time.
Reduce the heat and cook for a minutes or so to thicken the sauce, stirring continuously.
Remove the pot from the heat.
1. You could use hard tofu without dehydrating it, since hard tofu contains less water and you only need about 200-220g/7.1-7.8oz. But I find that the Hamburger steak is firmer than those made with momen tofu.
Silken tofu and Extra firm tofu are not suited for this recipe.
2. Supermarkets sometimes sell beef and pork mince mixed in a pack. If you are using beef and pork mince, use 300g in place of 150g pork mince and 150g beef mince.
3. I have a wooden traditional drop lid that was perfect for this (see the video and step-by-step photo). You could use the plastic lid of an airtight container, or the bottom of a spring form cake pan. As long as you can press down the tofu effectively, you can use anything.
4. If you are happy with a slightly uneven size of Tofu Hamburger Steaks, draw a cross on the levelled mince mixture in the bowl and take each portion (like how I did in the video).
To make 4 Hamburger Steaks with identical weight:
i) Weigh the mixing bowl before putting the ingredients in, then weigh the bowl with the patty mixture.
ii) Subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the weight with the mixture to work out the total weight of the patty mixture.
iii) Divide the total weight by 4, which gives you the weight of one patty.
iv) Weigh each portion to make 4 equal-sized Hamburger Steaks. I place the bowl with the patty mixture on the scale, reset to zero. When you take one portion, the scale gives you a negative weight of the portion.
5. When you poke a bamboo skewer into the centre of the Hamburger Steak, clear juice comes out if the meat is cooked through. If it is not cooked, the juice will be reddish.
Alternatively, you can press down the centre of the oval to see if you can feel the firmness inside. The centre of an uncooked Hamburger Steak is soft. However, this is a bit of a tricky method to judge if the patty is cooked or not because today’s patty is very soft due to the tofu in the mixture, even if it is completely cooked through.
6. Other sauces that go well with Tofu Hamburger Steak include Demi-Glace, Tonkatsu Sauce, and Ponzu with grated daikon. See the sample photo in the post.
7. Tofu Hamburger Steak keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. You can also freeze them, but they become slightly dry when defrosted.
8. Nutrition per serving without sauce.
serving: 193g calories: 316kcal fat: 24g (31%) saturated fat: 7.1g (36%) trans fat: 0.5g polyunsaturated fat: 3.7g monounsaturated fat: 11g cholesterol: 100mg (33%) sodium: 649mg (28%) carbohydrates: 3.5g (1%) dietary fibre: 1.3g (5%) sugar: 1.6g protein: 22g vitamin D: 0mcg (1%) calcium: mg (18%) iron: 2.9mg (16%) potassium: 365mg (8%)
Nutrition of Tomato Flavoured Sauce per tablespoon.
serving: 19g calories: 14kcal fat: 1.2g (2%) saturated fat: 0.8g (4%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g monounsaturated fat: 0.3g cholesterol: 3.6mg (1%) sodium: 80mg (3%) carbohydrates: 0.7g (0%) dietary fibre: 0.3g (1%) sugar: 0.5g protein: 0.3g vitamin D: 0mcg (0%) calcium: 7mg (1%) iron: 0.1mg (1%) potassium: 35.5mg (1%)