Monday, January 18, 2010

Steaks, heavenly steaks

You might ask why we should care about what food mum and dad eat or which restaurants they go to. Most of the time you would be right but following the same logic we should never stand around the dining table waiting for little morsels to drop on the floor. Moreover, once in a while, the doggy bag they brought home would contain leftovers for us and us only. Thanks to the urge of their carnivores' inner self, we have had 2 different pieces of beef bones from 2 different places recently.

The first piece was a T shaped bone from Bistecca, who claimed to be Hong Kong's first authentic Italian steak house. Mum went there with a friend and her verdict was the beef was well cooked but the service has left a lot to be desired. They ordered a Bistecca alla Fiorentina to share and was asked how well they would like it cooked. Mum asked for her usual "doneness", medium well and was taken aback when it was brought to the table. Instead of the pale pinkish interior that she expected to see upon first carving, she saw bright red bloody meat in the middle. The piece got taken back in for a second round of grilling and came back out with the desired "doneness". Being the armchair steak connoisseurs that we are, we can see at least 2 problems with this order.

1. Bistecca alla Fiorentina should be cooked from the Chianina breed of cattle, instead of the Wagyu breed they advertised. You probably wouldn't advertise yourself as authentic Italian when you look like a Japanese regardless and raised in Australia, even if you speak fluent native Italian.
2. Bistecca alla Fiorentina are served invariably very rare. The waiter / waitress should either explain and not asked for the "doneness" of the meat. Or if they asked for the "doneness" of the steak, it should come out with the expected consistency. Obviously neither were done.

Perhaps the authenticity of the place only refers to the decoration.

The second bone was from the prime rib roasted in the Hong Kong Country Club wine cellar restaurant. Mum and dad have been raving about the prime rib there since Christmas when they first visited the place. We literally only got our teeth into one a few days ago. And it was good!! Even the left-over meat stuck to the bones were deliciously juicy. Guess for most people the only problem is getting access to this exclusive club.

No photos unfortunately. Perhaps next time when mum and dad are not so hungry. With the new fad being dry aged steak in Hong Kong and new places seem to be springing up monthly with their own dry cabinet for beef, it wouldn't be long before we dig our teeth into another piece of bone or left-over steak.

Not for the faint-hearted. If you think duck's tongues as gross, you might not want to know the full details and history of the aging of beef. Quote from Harold McGee - On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen:

Like cheese and wine, meat benefits from a certain period of aging, or slow chemical change, during which it gets progressively more flavorful. Meat also becomes more tender. In the 19th century, beef and mutto joints would be kept at room temperature for days or weeks, until the outside was literally rotten. The French called this mortification, and the great chef Antoin Carême said that it should proceed "as fa as possible."......

And there's a whole chapter in Heston Blumenthal - In Search of Perfection which explores the process of aging steak and how to use a slow cook method to speed up the process of aging.

Both books are great additions to your cookbook library if you aspire to become a food buff.

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