Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lee Jaehwan / Process Analysis Essay 1st Draft / Thur. 1300-1500

How about a Steak Tonight?

How much do you usually spend on a steak at a decent restaurant? Quite a bit, most likely. Do you sometimes get frustrated with how small and simple it looks, compared to its price? Price does not necessarily mean that the dish requires a very difficult and meticulous process of cooking, and steak is a good example. You can easily replicate one at home with a little bit of guts for the challenge. For beginners, I would like to give some advices on preparing for a steak at home.

We cannot talk about a steak with beef, but every journey starts with a single step: you have to get your beef from somewhere. You may find it somewhat tricky to buy proper meat for your steak. Even major supermarkets in Korea, such as E-mart, Lotte Mart, and Homeplus, rarely ever sell proper one. Then, what do I mean by proper? The most important thing to your beef is thickness; 1 to 1.3 inches are suitable for a regular domestic frying pan. However, meat sections in the supermarkets do not customize your meat like that—even if there is a good one for a steak, it is likely to be costly for its weight. What I do is to go to a local butcher`s and order my meat to be customized in size and thickness. Although you may not expect as much marbling as high-quality beef in a restaurant, one you buy at a butcher`s is much economical—about 12,000 won for 1.3 pounds of sirloin (U.S. imports)—and you can get what you want. Now, having our beef in hand, we turn to the kitchen.

On your way to the kitchen, I recommend you to drop by a grocery store to get some peeled garlic, a pack of butter (avoid salt-free one because it will taste too healthy) and anything that you want to garnish your steak with—I preferably take mushrooms and, if available, asparagus. When you get to the kitchen, you have to make your ingredients ready. First, have your meat outside at room temperature for around 10 minutes so that the center of your sirloin will not be frozen. You should not get rid of blood by smothering it in water; it will draw out the flavor as well. When the beef becomes tender, it is time to season it—not a big deal. Sprinkling salt and pepper (ground whole pepper is preferable) will do, on the both sides of the meat (and be generous!) It is better to tap the meat lightly after seasoning in order to get it absorbed. While you are preparing the beef, the frying pan will be smoking hot. Then, you have to oil the pan with cooking oil like ground oil, grape seed oil, and olive oil—my recommendation is extra virgin olive oil, but it is up to you. When the oil just starts to smoke, put 4 or 5 cloves of the peeled garlic onto the pan over medium heat and move them around the pan to make sure the oil taste the garlic.

Here is the real game. We will put the meat onto the pan. After the garlic becomes a little brown, place your sirloin in the center of the pan, using a pair of tongs, or chopsticks. You must hear the hissing sound as soon as the meat touches the pan surface. Otherwise, temperature is wrong. You might get flustered at this point, but no worries; all you need to do with the beef is to flip it over every minute to cook it evenly on each side. After the first flip, add a knob of butter and your garnish to cook with the steak, like mushrooms. After the second flip, tilt the pan towards you and start basting the meat with a spoon. Keep flipping and basting until you get the temperature you want; over medium heat, it normally takes 3-4 minutes for rare, 5-6 for medium, and over 7 for well-done. Once you reach that point, you should turn the gas off immediately, take your steak out, and let it rest for about 3 or 4 minutes at room temperature. Also baste the steak with the oil while it is resting. And, here you are, a home-cooked steak for you.

My tips so far seem fairly long, but the actual cooking takes less than 10 minutes—it is not rocket science, either. First, get proper meat at a butcher`s. Second, prepare other ingredients and season your meat. Third, flip and baste until you get what you want. In addition to that, you may as well get yourself with a little courage to step outside and explore. With these simple rules, you can enjoy flavorful steaks on a big day with your friends or dearest one. Bon appetite!

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