Reaching for the top shelf steak
CHRIS’S KITCHEN | This week our resident Aussie chef tackles the meaty issue of that tasty type of steak called Wagyu beef.
I CAN safely say over the last 10 or 15 years us chefs have been singing the praises of how good Wagyu beef is to eat. We have all heard the stories of friends paying up to £70 for a steak, a piece of meat that has depth of flavour and tenderness of soft pudding. Not to mention the stories of feeding the Wagyu cattle beer, which is true, and dedicated farmers spending hours hand massaging the cattle to sleep (also true – however mechanical devices are now placed in holding pens for this thankless task).
Having tasted Wagyu in Australia for the first time I was hooked of the flavour and texture of the char grill sirloin that graced my plate.
Wagyu is produced from the same cattle breed known for producing the legendary Kobe beef of Japan. ‘Wagyu’ derives from the Japanese word meaning ‘Japanese cow’. Bred from several different breeds, Wagyu gives us characteristic marbling and a distinctive flavour with butter knife tenderness.
Our very own Greg Norman as gone from pro golfer to major beef producer and exporter. From specialty farms in the US to independent assessors who grade the marbling levels insuring only premium grades hit the shelves and restaurants, ‘The Shark’ is on top of all things Wagyu.
Placing a sirloin steak of Wagyu alongside a premium Angus sirloin, you can see the difference straight away. Not to say one is better than the other, it’s definitely a personal preference. If you do enjoy big beef flavours and a slight bite then Wagyu is definitely worth buying or ordering at your favourite steak restaurant.
So lets look at how we go about cooking a Wagyu sirloin at home. Firstly, Wagyu can be hard to come across in your local butcher. My advice is to look online and you will find a number of sites selling various cuts for grilling or slow cooking. It is really price dependant and I would suggest buying a piece that suits your budget. Just remember Wagyu has a big flavour so a little goes along way when it comes to quality.
One of the most important parts of cooking Wagyu is having a heavy cast iron grill or hot BBQ to sear the meat, leaving caramelized marks packed full of the tasty beef flavour we all crave for.
Searing sumptuous Wagyu steaks
What to do:
Remove your Wagyu steak from the fridge a good 30 minutes before cooking. This helps the steak to relax and the all-important juices to flow and develop. Cold meats placed directly onto a searing hot grill can result in a tough outcome.
Place the steak on a plate and drizzle a light olive oil over and massage into the steak. Season with cracked pepper and sea salt. Sea salt is more superior to table salt and once it grills with the juices of the beef, the flavours are enhanced.
Have your grill on a high heat – just below smoking, and open the window and have the exhaust fan on high. Place the steak on the grill plate and turn the heat slight down to control the cooking process. Turn the steak 180 degrees to give distinct markings and caremilization. Turn the meat once the steak is developing colour after four or five minutes. Turn and repeat the process. Add a little olive oil and cook for a further four or five minutes for medium.
Allow the all-important resting process for around 15 minutes before serving. Take a sharp knife after resting the steak and slice against the grain of the steak fibers. This helps to develop the tenderness of the steak. Sprinkle with a small pinch of sea salt and serve with your favourite potatoes sautéed with thyme and garlic.