Friday, 9 May 2008

The YM's favourites 2: Classic Salisbury steak with mushrooms

There are ingredients that you can't get here in Japan and, surprisingly, horseradish cream is one of them. So I always slip a jar of the stuff in the suitcase on the way back from visits to Oz. Until now, the customs officers at Narita have mainly been concerned that I might be smuggling porn into the country (yup, even with the Young Man in tow!), and bringing food in has not been a problem. It seems that after a slew of food scandals, the lovely people at customs are now clamping down a bit on food, so I wonder how long I'll get away with the horseradish (and the cheese and the dried fruit and the nuts and the...)

So, horseradish is a bit of a luxury, which only gets a showing on two occasions: with a nice gingered steak, and in this all-time favourite of the YM's, Salisbury steak.

Never having visited the US, you'll forgive me for knowing nothing about the said "steak", which is not a steak in my dialect of English at all, but an authentic super-sized hamburger. Wikipedia informs us that in its country of origin, the Salisbury steak moniker is often reserved for such mega-patties that are served with "gravy" (ie an integral sauce made from the pan juices). Otherwise, their known as Hamburg steaks. Fair enough. This dish also seems to be the inspiration for the Japanese Hamburg steak (or hamubaagu for short in Japanese), which is a staple in these parts. (I'd often wondered why this was called a "steak", but put it down a weird translation thing from the English to the Japanese).

So, what's so good about this version? Well, a Japanese hamubaagu is usually topped with tinned demi-glace sauce, which is okay, I suppose, but where I grew up, steak (as in the big slab of meat) is always served with onions and mushrooms, and for variety, sometimes even an onion and mushroom sauce (!) (I'm a bit loathe to call it a "gravy" as it seems to be in the US). This is a fine interpretation of that.

And its secret ingredient is none other than horseradish cream.

This recipe is from Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way by Leanne Ely (who I've mentioned before). I have altered it slightly. (1) Prepare your cornflour/cornstarch in advance. Before you start, blend 2 tsp of cornflour with just a little more of water. Let this sit while you cook. The cornflour will sink, and when you are ready for it just scoop the cornflour out -- it will "bunch together" then liquefy again and run from your fingers into the pan -- saving you from making the sauce too watery. Chinese restaurants use this method, and no one would call them slouches in the sauce-thickening department, would they? (2) Really work the meat, lifting it and slamming it against the bowl until it is paste like. This breaks down and distributes the fat, giving a nicer finish.

I served this with caramelised onions and sauteed spinach with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. You may want more veggies, but these are big patties so we didn't need anything else.

Classic Salisbury Steak

2 tsp cold water
2 tsp cornstarch [S: aka cornflour]
450 g extra lean beef mince [S: regular mince is fine too; you need the fat to fry the onions]
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp whole-wheat bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp horseradish cream
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 can beef broth [S: I've no idea how much is in a "can" of broth, so I just eyeball it; maybe 200 ml)
3 cups mushrooms, sliced

In a small bowl, mix the cornflour and water and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the next 6 ingredients, mixing thoroughly and working into a paste, then shape into 4 oval patties. Make a slight indentation in the middle of each oval with your fingers to help the patties cook evenly.

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat oil [S: may not be necessary if not using lean beef] until hot and place patties in the pan. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear, turning just once. Remove patties from skillet and keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute mushrooms till soft. Remove mushrooms and add broth, using a wire whisk to scrape up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow broth to simmer until slightly reduced. Scoop up the cornstarch and add to broth mixture and cook over medium heat (it needs to simmer) for 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Add back the mushrooms [S: and the juices that will have leaked from the steaks] and stir well, serving the mushroom gravy over patties.


No comments: