Last week Sintty and I were buying another IMac to replace my IMac that crashed to the floor from a computer store in our neighborhood. We are constantly meeting new friends and also contacts towards helping us doing some type of food business here. The night we picked up the computer the owner’s friend was visiting him in the store when we arrived. It turns out his friend also operates a steakhouse in Taichung called WildFire Steakhouse. His menu consists of imported American beef so we all got to talking about American beef cuts and how he gets his beef from his wholesaler. That night he invited us to stop by his restaurant when we had a chance. This would be my first real opportunity to get a first hand look with the way they cook beef steaks here.
We haven’t had much steak here at all except for me cooking it on my own using Costco NY Strip steaks as I normally do in the U.S. So my meat diets here is primarily pork, chicken and duck. We wound up going for dinner at the WildFire Steakhouse Saturday night. It was about a 15 minute scooter ride from our apartment. In the
steakhouse you get to order your cut of beef straight from the refrigerated showcase at the front counter. They take the cuts of meat you chose and weigh it and that is what you are charged by the pound. We ordered a rib eye steak and a NY strip. The first thing you notice is that the cuts of meats are not the thickness I am use to in the U.S. They also do not have much fat around them. I got a chance to see their cooking method as it was an open kitchen in the grilling area. The steaks were placed on the gas grill, were constantly pressed against the grill with a spatula, taken off the grill periodically and probed with a meat thermometer, then placed in an oven to finish the cooking process. After removing the steaks from the oven, the steaks were stamped with grill marks using a hand held grill iron and heated with a propane torch. The steaks were tender but they reminded me of the commercial chain steak restaurants like Outback Steakhouse.
Steak is probably the number one item that I cook very well as I love steak. I periodically cook it here in Taiwan to maintain my steak game as well as to entertain our Taiwan friends to show them how steak should taste like. Because basically grilled steak is not commonly eaten here because in my opinion not many people know how to cook it besides being expensive to find quality beef. Grills are not common here so a lot of steaks are cooked over a flat top grill.
Yesterday I went to Costco and picked up some NY strips and cooked it for dinner, with some German potatoes and creamed spinach. Costco beef is imported from the U.S. but they are trimmed and packaged on site at the Costco location just as it is done in the U.S. They are trimmed to the same thickness as in the U.S. but with one big difference. They trim off a lot of the excess fat cap and leave about 50% less than U.S.Costco specifications when it is packaged. I was told by the Costco meat department manager that they follow Taiwan Costco specifications to the amount of fat that is to be trimmed off for the local market. My personal opinion is that the local market here does not want to pay the extra cost for something that they don’t know how to use and cook with it, the excess beef fat. It’s ironic since the primary meat eaten in Taiwan is pork and a lot of the cuts they buy contain a lot of fat like the pork belly.
As you can see from the Costco NY strip sirloin out of the package there is some fat but not much, the NY strip on the far left basically has all of it’s fat removed. To me the fat is the key to a great tasting grilled steak. I have had many steaks that have been grilled for me where you wind up trimming off a third of the steak for its fat and writing it off the fat as useless plate discard. That’s because the steak was basically grilled only on its top and bottom, and the fat was left uncooked properly and left in a grotesque gelatin state.
My secret is to use the excess fat to its advantage by grilling the fat sides of the NY strip first so you render down the excess fat so that what remains of the fat is a caramelized crispy fat trim bark that surrounds the steak. That way with each slice of the steak, you get a nice flavorable, moist taste from the rendered fat crusty bark, which other wise without it, makes your steak dry tasting. The key is to cook the sides with the fat first and watch for grill flame flares up due to the fat melting down into the grill flames. Just constantly remove it away from the flare up until it dies down then remelt the fat down more until it has rendered to a nice almost burnt crispiness. After the side fat has rendered then you can grill the top and bottom accordingly.
The steaks are still great tasting but I can tell its missing that surrounding excess rendered fat around the entire side of the steaks. The good new is that I can purchase the Costco NY strip sirloins packaged untrimmed. It is cheaper by the pound and I can trim the steaks with the proper excess fat remaining on it.