Today, finally, was the day to indulge in this simple comfort food, an idea I had when I bought some ground Korean hanwoo beef at the department store a few weeks ago.  It’s no brainer, cook up some tomato sauce and pasta, but I was curious as to how the meatballs would turn out.  The main issue, after looking up some recipes online, was that I had no breadcrumbs or anything that resembles bread or crackers in the pantry.  So instead, I used whole wheat flour as the binder, snipped off a few bits of rosemary from good old herb pots and added lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese which tied everything together.  The result was a nice, soft textured meatball with just enough binding to stay intact (also helps to be a bit gentle with the stirring).

A word about Korean beef – it is extremely expensive if you come from a country that produces Alberta, Texan or Aussie beef.  Depending on the cut and marbling, you can easily pay $150 per Kg for good quality meat at the shops (restaurants will indeed be more) and it is usually 2-3 times the cost of imported beef.  Yet there seems to be still a strong market for hanwoo in beef-loving Korea, no doubt in part due to the fierce pride in all things Korean.  As for my Mom, who refuses to buy imported beef in Korea, says that the taste of hanwoo takes her back to her childhood memories growing up in Korea in the 60’s.

Then I thought, feeling a little uneasy as she reached for some kimchi to add something missing to the spaghetti…THAT is perfect comfort food for her.


Serves 4


  • 250g lean ground beef
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • about 1 Tbsp packed fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper

Tomato Sauce + Pasta:

  • 500g crushed tomatoes, canned
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 small green Korean hot pepper (optional)
  • about 350g spaghetti noodles
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt for boiling pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese for garnish

1.  Finely mince the onion, garlic, rosemary and olive oil in a mini-blender (hand chopping works too).  In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for meatballs.  Add more flour if the mix is too wet.  Shape into round meatballs, and pan fry until browned on all sides (about 5 minutes).

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium pot, saute 1 chopped small onion in olive oil until soft. Add in minced garlic and tomato paste.  Add crushed tomatoes, hot green pepper (keep whole) and dried basil, then heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.  When the meatballs are ready, add them to the tomato sauce.  Keep on low simmer until pasta is ready, about another 20 minutes.  Take out the hot green pepper, and season with salt if needed.

3.  In a big pot, boil at least 8 cups water.  Add sea salt and pasta, and cook according to directions.

4.  Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and serve with grated parmesan.