It takes a generous serving of self-awareness and a dollop of courage to admit one’s fear in the kitchen. On a scale of slicing your finger on the mandolin to burning the whole family’s dinner, I’d say most of us teeter somewhere in between when tasked to cook something using a kitchen appliance that’s not the microwave or make something that requires skills beyond 4 magic words: just add hot water.
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Which brings me to the one thing most people are reluctant to cook in their kitchen—STEAK. And why wouldn’t we be? They can be hella expensive and not conducive to do-overs should we find ourselves in need of a second chance.
Luckily, Chef Carlo Miguel gave us an effective pep talk and a few pointers to hopefully stop us from wasting a good piece of beef. That day’s selection of premium steak cuts was from Snake River Farms, cattle breeders of American Wagyu heralded to be one of the best success stories of cross-breeding the prodigious Wagyu breed outside of Japan.
Filipinos usually go for the ribeye on the menu, but Chef Carlo introduced to us other cuts in his demo. One of them, he said, might actually be better than our usual choice—Wagyu striploin, Wagyu tenderloin, and Wagyu chuck eye log. The latter, he pointed out, was the underdog of the bunch (and his personal preference). People don’t care much about this part of the beef, but alas, what the chuck eye lacks in tenderness, it makes up for in flavor. Chef Carlo shared four handy tips to cooking steaks perfectly using these premium Wagyu cuts.
Tip #1: “A general trade-off in steak and in meat in general is that tender means less flavor, but a little bit tougher means a lot more flavor.”
Tip #2: “I like to season my steak about 5 to 10 minutes before they go in the hot pan because I like the crust that it forms. It draws out a little bit of moisture, but when you hit that pan, it forms a really nice crust on the outside.”
Tip #3: “If you’re lucky, sometimes you won’t need any oil. The first thing I’m going to do with it, is stick it in (the pan) fat side down. And that’s going to render out nicely. It’s going to get crunchy. And if I’m lucky, I don’t need to add oil at all to any of these. It’s all going to be cooked in its own fat.”
Tip #4: “Once we’ve got a nice crust on each side, we’ll throw the butter, the thyme, and the garlic in there. We’re going to baste it over and then I want to flip it every 30 to 45 seconds. People don’t know this part, but the thing is, if you leave it too long on one side, the heat penetration goes through much faster than if you constantly flip it. So you’ll get a much better cooking and much better doneness on it if you keep flipping it because it ends up being a more even cook.”
Snake River Farms steaks are available at South Supermarket (Wagyu Striploin Black Wagyu Rib Eye Black) and S&R Membership Shopping (Wagyu Ribeye Black, Wagyu Ribeye Gold). For orders and inquiries, check out Instagram @afcphils, FB: Alternatives Food Corp, or visit www.alternatives.ph
Photographs by Chris Clemente