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The Honolulu Star-Advertiser By Request column
[February 20, 2013]

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser By Request column

Feb 20, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A cup equals 8 fluid ounces, equals 16 tablespoons, right It's a standardized thing, so a cup of sugar and a cup of rice take up the same amount of space in the universe. Right Not at the old Hisago Delicatessen, where measurements were based on whatever cup or bowl was stored with the ingredient, perhaps a teacup in the sugar and a rice bowl in the rice. So a recipe could call for filling the sugar cup "to the bottom of the handle, and the same cup always stayed in the sugar," recalls Kevin Kawashige, a member of the fourth generation of Hisago cooks. If the cup got lost, well, that really messed things up.

This came up as Kawashige was sharing the Hisago hamburger recipe -- 20 pounds of meat, "one chawan" of dehydrated onions and chopped celery. Now, a chawan -- a Japanese bowl used to serve tea or rice -- does not comprise a standardized volume. Which means the recipe I am about to give you is not an exact match for that long-ago burger. But it's in the ballpark.

We're talking burgers thanks to Evelyn Tsukamoto, who asked for the recipe for the "very ono" Hisago teri burger.

Hisago came to be in the 1950s in Nuuanu, eventually moving to South King Street near the old stadium. Kawashige's great-grandmother was the founder. The business passed to his grandmother and then to his father, Neal. Kawashige ran it for a few years in the 1990s, and when he left, his father closed the restaurant.

The key to the burgers was really the sauce, made with garlic and ginger ground in a blender, Kawashige said. The sauce also was used on Hisago's spare ribs and to flavor the mahimahi that replaced tuna in the makizushi.

He's not making the same dishes anymore, but does use some of Hisago's base sauces in the Ono to Go food truck that is his current connection to the food biz. "The technique is there," Kawashige said.

Ono to Go, by the way, is on hiatus as Kawashige and partner Wedge Lee assess their plans. They'll reappear temporarily March 5, serving lunch at Taste in Kakaako on Tuesdays through May.

HISAGO TERIYAKI BURGER 1-1/2 tablespoons dehydrated onion 1/2 cup hot water 4 slices white bread, torn in pieces 2 pounds ground beef (80 percent lean) 1-1/2 tablespoons minced celery 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 8 hamburger buns --Teriyaki sauce: 3 large cloves garlic, chopped 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons water 1 cup soy sauce 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water Soak onion in hot water until soft. Pour mixture over bread pieces and toss until bread falls apart and forms a soft paste (add more water if needed). Add beef, celery, salt and pepper; toss lightly to combine.

Form into 8 patties about 1 inch thick. Make a depression in the center (this helps the burger cook evenly).

Heat oil in skillet. Fry burgers on medium-high heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

To make sauce: Grind garlic and ginger in blender with water until broken down into a paste. Strain.

Combine soy sauce and sugar in a pot and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in ginger and garlic. Reduce to simmer and stir in cornstarch slurry. Let simmer until reduced to a thick, shiny sauce. Serve burgers on buns, topped with sauce.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per burger with bun (not including salt to taste and assuming that all the sauce is used): 600 calories, 27 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,000 mg sodium, 59 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 30 g protein ---- Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Send requests to "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email

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