Sadly, I haven’t watched a lot of TV ever since moving to the island because I’m doing more important things like fishing for my food or swimming with Haenyeo (female free divers). But when I do have free time I’m usually watching a handful of travel documentaries and cooking shows. One cooking show that caught my attention and always seems to be running when I turn on the TV is 오늘 뭐먹지? (What Will We Eat Today?), featuring two celebrities pretending to cook and literally reading cue cards as they cook. To my delight, one episode featured a guest cook/owner from a popular restaurant right next to our “vacation” home in Hongdae that we never had a chance to visit because of the crazy lines. She taught me and the amateur hosts how to make her signature dish, Hamburg Steak 햄버그 스테이크, a Korean fusion dish that’s basically a cross between a steak and a burger.
While growing up in the States, I never had the Korean version of the original Salisbury steak, but I did live off the latter through microwave meals in college. The cheap, red Banquet variety and Swanson’s Hungry-Man Dinner come to mind. I still remember how good those tasted back in the days—soft and mushy beef patties smothered in gravy sauce with sides of creamy mashed potatoes and corn. There are other nostalgic food that come to mind but I’ll reserve those for later. Now back to the Korean version, I replaced the beef with Jeju ground pork (unfortunately no black pork available) and then combined it with thinly diced onions, green onions, breadcrumbs, garlic, and egg. After an overnight marinade, I cooked them up like a regular burger and added my own personal twist by using up available ingredients from the fridge. The final result, according to the girlfriend, was another winning dish that we considered restaurant worthy (hint, hint), that is with some minor tweaks. Also, it’s nice to have another go-to dish for one of our weekly meals and times when we have guests over. 🙂
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~ Luciano Pavarotti
Salisbury steak is a dish made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients, which is shaped to resemble a steak, and is usually served with gravy or brown sauce. Hamburger steak is a similar product, but differs in ingredients. Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J.H. Salisbury (1823–1905), an early proponent of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss; the term “Salisbury steak” has been in use in the United States since 1897. The dish is popular in the United States, where it is traditionally served with gravy and mashed potatoes or noodles.
Hamburg (Hamburg steak) is a popular Salisbury steak dish in Japan. It is made from ground meat with finely chopped onion, egg, and breadcrumbs flavored with various spices, and made into a flat, circular shape about a centimeter thick and 10 to 15 cm in diameter. Many restaurants specialize in various styles of hamburger steak. Some variations include hanbāgu topped with cheese, hanbāgu with curry, and Italian hanbāgu (with tomato sauce rather than gravy).
Hamburger steak became popular during the 1960s as a more affordable way to serve otherwise costly meat. Magazines regularly printed the recipe during that decade, elevating it to a staple dish in Japanese culture. In Japan, the dish dates back to the Meiji period and is believed to have been first served in Yokohama, which was one of the first ports opened to foreigners. Since the 1980s, vacuum packed hamburgers are sold with sauce already added, and these are widely used in box lunches (bento). Frozen hamburgers are popular as well, often served in fast food style restaurants because they have a richer taste and firmer texture than vacuum-packed hamburger.
In Hawaii, hamburger steak is very similar to the Japanese hanbāgu. It consists of burger patty with brown gravy. It is usually served with macaroni salad and rice in a plate lunch. There is also a variety which includes an egg, which is called loco moco. The dish is also common in South Korea, where the recipe and name (햄버그 스테이크 / hamburg steak) were adopted from Japan.
- 1 lb ground pork (or beef)
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 green onions, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- olive oil or butter
- 2 cups milk
- 3 cups tomato cherries, halved (canned okay)
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ onion, diced
- 1 tbsp flour (thickener)
- dash salt and pepper
- 2 sunny side up eggs
- For regular gravy sauce:
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup milk (optional)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional step: Precook the onions and garlic in some olive oil until caramelized. This will add some depth and flavor to the patties.
- Place the ground pork in a large bowl along with the first six ingredients on the list. Mix well with your hands and then form into round patties. Overnight marinating is optional.
- In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, lightly coated with olive oil or butter and cook the patties on medium high heat, roughly 4 minutes on each side. Cook eggs accordingly after finishing the patties.
- With the remaining bits from the meat, add in the minced garlic and halved cherry tomatoes, saute for a few minutes until browned. Scrape off meat pieces in the process.
- Add remaining sauce ingredients and cook until it reduces, about 5 minutes. Tomato skins will peel off (discard if necessary). Add flour to thicken the sauce and adjust taste as needed.