Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Washugyu: Kobe Style Beef

For Christmas one of my partners gave me an amazing gift: 8 individually wrapped 8 ounce
 Washugyu filet mignon steaks. 
As I said in an prior post, Washugyu is the American version of Kobe beef. I've had Kobe beef once, raw, at a restaurant in Tokyo, and it was very good. Not a lot different from good tuna sashimi. I've had Washugyu once, a small grilled ribeye steak, that was disappointing. With my adventurous family gathering together for Christmas, I emailed a challenge: each would be given an opportunity to cook one of the steaks, any way they wanted; we would each get to sample a small piece of each steak and then pick a winner. I figured we could do it at odd times and spread it out over several days, to eat as appetizers along with our other food. 
Because Rachael is such an adventurous and good cook, I gave her the first crack at it. She tweeted Gordon Ramsay, of Hell's Kitchen fame, and he responded with a cooking suggestion. Unfortunately, I do not have the exact directions, but as I recall he suggested leaving the steak at room temperature for 20 minutes, coating it in olive oil and rosemary, then frying it very hot in oil for three minutes on one side, 
then flipping it over and cooking it on the other side for a minute, I believe, then adding in butter and cooking it for an additional minute, spooning the melted butter over the top of the steak. 
When I heard this, I had Rachael cook two steaks, I wanted to make sure we each had an opportunity for several bites. As you can imagine, it was extremely good. The outside was a little crispy and buttery 
and the inside was melt in your mouth, warmish, and smooth beef butter. 
Andrew, our other real adventurous cook, took the next turn. Living in Koreatown, he is getting quite a Korean food education. So he decided to cook his Korean style. He made an elaborate marinade that included a puree of onions, garlic, soy sauce and red pepper paste. He poked the meat with holes and let it marinade for two hours. He sprinkled the outside with sea salt and red pepper flakes and then fried it. 
He then sliced it and put it on a bed of lettuce for a nice visual effect. 
It was quite strong, both salty and hot, and was more limp, less plump. It was very good, but not as good as Rachael's. 

We were getting full, along with the other food we'd eaten, but I decided to proceed ahead with mine. I decided to cook mine on our outdoor gas grill. I'd cooked a goose recently and there was a lot of goose fat in the grill that needed to burn off (I'd cooked it over the two middle burners that were off, with the two outside burners on high). I put all four burners on high and the goose fat created a large flame that burned for awhile. I decided to take pieces of Gordon Ramsey's suggestions and let the steak sit out for 20 minutes, put on a light layer of olive oil, rubbed on some red Hawaiian sea salt 
and decided to cook it for three minutes on each side. When I got out to the grill it was REALLY hot, but the result was amazing. It was a little more crispy on the outside (than Rachael's steaks) from the high heat, the salt mixed in and gave it great flavor and the whole textural and flavor components were great. 
Andrew and Judy proclaimed mine the winner, and it was so good, I tried to do it again. However, my next attempt was not as good (still very good, just not as good). Because all of the goose fat had burned off and the grill had not been on as long, it was not as hot. Instead of using red Hawaiian sea salt, I used truffle salt. And for the last minute on the grill I spread butter on the outside. The combination of the butter, different salt and the less hot grill resulted in the steak being less crisp on the outside, the salt flavor was not as pronounced, and the texture was just not as great. 
By this time, everyone was rolling and we had to hold on to the remaining steaks for another day.

Over the course of the next two days I experimented with the remaining steaks, sharing with Judy. I let the steaks stand, rubbed them in olive oil and red Hawaiian sea salt, and cooked them on the grill for four minutes on each side, instead of three. I tried butter again on one, and did not like it as well as without. 
We had some Cambozola triple cream cheese, the name intentionally suggesting a combination of soft Camembert cheese and bluey Gorgonzola. For one, we added a layer of Cambozola on the top for the last minute on the grill. 
Then, for the last steak, I sliced the steak sideways, nearly through, then for the last minute put Cambozola on the inside. 
That was crazy good. We still got the benefit of the crispier textured outside, but then the warm, bluey, buttery cheese combining with the already buttery meat. I think it came close to my first steak. 

Judy proclaimed this the best beef she has ever eaten. It was very fun to have high quality meat to experiment with. The Washugyu truly is excellent beef. 

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