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Cooking Wagyu


Shalmanese
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Here in Sydney, I'm blessed to have a source of Australian Wagyu beef straight from the farmer for $69AUD/kg for rib eye filets which works out to be something like $24USD/lb. I can't believe it took me this long to try it but... OH... MY... GOD... this meat is something else out of this world GOOD! Pan seared, cooked rare, simple sides, no sauce. Literally, the texture of the meat was like butter.

However, the unique structure of fat in Wagyu leads me to believe that there is more to cooking it than any normal steak. When the steaks came out of the pan, there was a quite a large puddle of fat that had rendered out of the steaks and any fat that has escaped the steak is lost tenderness IMHO.

So, I've been thinking about this a bit and wanted to bounce a couple of ideas around. With your Wagyu, or any other steak for that matter, you want to achieve two things, a centre that is perfectly rare, and an outside that is browned and charred. However, what you want minimise as much as possible is any meat that lies between these two extremes, since this is the meat that will have all it's fat squeezed out of it and taste bland. So, your goal is to somehow get a steak that is perfectly rare all the way through with just a thin band of extra well done on the outside.

Now, if you had a steak homogenous in temperature, then theres no avoiding the inevitable gradient of cookedness from the outside to the in. But, if you could somehow control the temperature gradient of the meat, then it would be possible to fine tune the degree of doneness through the meat.

So, drawing inspiration from the "reverse griddle" idea that Alinea is throwing around, bring the steak to room temperature or to as close to the melting point of the fat as possible. Then, "cold cook" the meat by placing it on a previously frozen block of metal or granite. Then, straight from the cold surface to a blazing hot pan. The outside might take slightly longer to char but, if done right, the amount of rare meat should extend perfectly almost to the outer rim.

In addition, the fat being rendered from the meat ended up almost deep frying the meat rather than pan searing. As fat can only get to a certain temperature, the meat was less brown than I had hoped before I had to take it off the heat. While the purpose of a griddle pan is to wick away the fat and properly char the meat, I don't really like using them. However, it occurs to me that the same effect could be achieved by tilting the pan while cooking so the fat all accumulates at the bottom. Has anyone tried this method?

Any thoughts or am I completely on the wrong limb here?

PS: I am a guy.

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However, the unique structure of fat in Wagyu leads me to believe that there is more to cooking it than any normal steak.

I think the opposite way - there's less to cooking Wagyu than any normal steak. I would do as little to this fine meat as possible. I've even eaten Wagyu ribeye like sashimi, in very thin slices completely raw.

Just sear (hot pan, very short time), slice and serve. I don't think it's necessary or advisable to char the outside. I'd stick with good Aussie Angus for a charred steak. The longer Wagyu is on the heat, the more fat renders out (as you've observed), and that defeats the purpose.

Another nice prep is to roll very thin slices of Wagyu around enoki mushrooms and give it a very quick sear. This is a classic Japanese teppanyaki dish.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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The best steaks I have ever tasted have had an almost 'instant-char' applied via slamander or ultra-hot grill. The meat was black and crusty on the outside, still raw on the inside, to me, this is perfect.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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As you have correctly surmised, cooking Waygu can be self defeating. Cook it well done and you will have junk. As others have mentioned, a good sear and then serve or sashimi style is the best. I have had Australian Waygu when Lobels was importing it and it was very good. We had tenderloain, Rib roasts and Brisket. The brisket was corned or BBq'd and was the best I have ever had! The roasts were also cut into thick 3" steaks. seared, rested and eaten. Tenderloin also seared and eaten. -Dick

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Steingarten writes about Wagyu in one of his books. Can't remember which one. Will check and post.

However... in Sydney, next to the ANA hotel is a quiet little teppanyaki joint. They do Wagyu there occasionally, and the way they do it reminds me of how Steingarten wrote about it.

It's quite simple in essence, but requires high heat on the Teppan. A steak is left to attian room temperature. Butter is browned with some oil on the hot plate, some garlic browned and discarded so the oil/fat mix is flavored, then the steak placed on top, seared quickly, flipped, seasoned, and before flipping again, it's sliced. This continues ad infinitum. The slicing is the key here, so that little mini steaks are made, like, a little less than an inch square, or 2.5cm/sq. Before serving, the lid is put on to 'bake' it a little. Then served with a ponzu type sauce, and a sesame dressing. it's like eating little beefy cubes of butter...

HEaven... I tried it at home on a large skillet, but only with eye fillet. the stuff costs $120/kg here in Melbourne, but i'll probably try some after the NEw Year.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I'm cooking a couple of skirt steaks (ordered from Lobel's) for Christmas dinner, but I have a bit of a problem. I'm cooking for my parents and myself. Neither of them will eat anything less than well done (my Mom would perfer burnt, actually). I realize that many people would consider it a waste of Wagyu, but I have a little plan.

I was going to slice their steaks into fairly thin strips across the grain and then marinate the slices in balsamic & soy sauce and a bit of roasted garlic. I'm going to cook them on a nicely hot cast-iron skillet - I'm hoping this will cut down on the cooking time, and the marinade will help maintain a little more juicyness. But will the marinade kill the flavor of the meat?

Or should I save the Wagyu for me and pick up their steaks at Kroger's? lol - only half kidding

Thanks ahead of time for any advice.

-Greg

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I agree, definately give them Kroger steaks, heck, well-done Wagyu probably wouldn't taste that different from well-done tire treads...

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I think the opposite way - there's less to cooking Wagyu than any normal steak.  I would do as little to this fine meat as possible.  I've even eaten Wagyu ribeye like sashimi, in very thin slices completely raw. 

Just sear (hot pan, very short time), slice and serve.  I don't think it's necessary or advisable to char the outside.  I'd stick with good Aussie Angus for a charred steak.  The longer Wagyu is on the heat, the more fat renders out (as you've observed), and that defeats the purpose.

...

I bought some thinly-sliced Washington Wagyu at the local Japanese market this evening and experimented with how to cook it. I marinated the beef in a mixture of 2/3 sake and 1/3 shoyu for 30 minutes. Then I heated a skillet to medium-high and seared several batches of the meat, adding no other ingredients. I'm convinced that searing the sliced beef so it's mostly brown but with a bit of red is the way to go. Any char just makes the beef bitter and that tasty fat melts away. It's pointless. The Maillard reaction makes the flavor more interesting in my opinion than leaving the beef raw but I tried a piece that way and I must say it was pretty good.

By the way, I don't typically eat red meat. It's not my favorite. But this Wagyu was something else!

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