Kitchenesia.com - When hearing the word “steak”, the image of a highly-celebrated, typical posh chunk of meat might come to some minds. This is partially true; my local butcher’s shop sells a two-ounce “best” steak cut for a whopping one million rupiah. The same amount of money could feed a family of four for a week. That’s a lot of moo-ney.
Peering into a local steak house, and yes, the confusion still dried me up and got the best of me. Did I embarrass myself for ordering my steak well-done? Tenderloin to sirloin, how do they differ? These questions had gotten me beat even before I took a bite.
With so many questions going through my mind, I seek Chef Vindex Tengker for a piece of advice. He was one of the speakers at “The Great Steak Escape” event, organized by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Indonesia, Wednesday (6/16) at JW Marriott Hotel, Jakarta.
With over 20 years of experience in professional cooking, the former MasterChef Indonesia jury is the best person to ask about steak culture, etiquette, and whatnot. Also, he’s kind enough to spill some handy tips to cook restaurat-style steak at home.
Let’s get ready to beef up our knowledge of steak!
Some of Indonesia's traditional food require long, slow cooking to reach the best tastes. Do you think imported beef from Australia will fit Indonesia’s traditional recipes?
Definitely, as long as using the right cut. Breed types, diet, and climate really influence beef quality. And I believe Australia provides the best climate for cattle. They are raised on pasture and grass-fed, thus produce juicy, flavorful beef.
It took me 3-4 hours to cook beef rendang using Aussie beef, yet rendang normally takes up to six hours to whip up. I’ve recently cooked kalio (stewed beef, red with thick soup) and krengsengan sapi (East Javanese sweet stewed beef) using Aussie beef. You can check out the recipes on my Instagram.
Amateur enjoyers often order their steak well done because they are worried about some bacteria in rare beef. Can you please clarify?
There’s nothing wrong with it. The fear also makes sense because people still associate redness with blood. Thus rare steak is mistaken as raw, bacteria-rich meat. The truth is that redness in rare steak is muscle tissue. The longer the meat cooks, the more its juiciness dries out, thus looking greyish. And in the realm of steak, greyness is not a good thing.
On the contrary, is rare steak safe?
Every degree of steak doneness is safe. Instead, steak purists love their steak raw because they can feel the beefy flavour in it. Lightly seared with very little oil ⎼ about two minutes or less for each side. This method allows the meat juice to lock inside, therefore looking red.
The same method doesn’t work for chicken. You should not eat undercooked chicken, ever. Eating raw or undercooked chicken won’t give you the same experience as eating rare steak. On the contrary, you’ll possibly get an upset stomach.
Steakhouses offer varieties that casual steak eater finds cofounding: ribeye to sirloin, rare to well done. What do you think the tastiest cut and doneness of steak?
Ribeye is great. This cut imbues with the perfect combination of marble and fat, permeating the strongest beefy flavour amongst all beef cuts. They are also incredibly juicy, tender, and soft, thus making ribeye the primest cut for steak.
The problem is, these innate qualities are sensitive. They could disappear quickly as a result of imprecise temperature and searing duration. Medium-rare is my recommendation if you want to have your steak tastes less raw, yet the flavour and juiciness are still there. Don’t forget to rest the beef cut for five minutes before processing it. Light-sear each side for a couple of minutes and you’ll get the best steak ever.
Last question, how to enjoy steak best?
Some might think highly ― too highly even ― of steak with those stuffy rules and etiquette. They would douse their steak with only-god-know sauce the chef gives them. Instead, sauce or any condiment could hinder the steak’s inherent flavours.
I really recommend using little-to-no sauce so that our taste buds can absorb the steak flavour at maximum capacity. For drink, sparkling or the basic mineral water works very well with steak for they act as a palate cleanser. Simple yet so good.