Saturday, April 28, 2012

How to grill a steak

Around the World in 60 Steaks
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Ah, the life of a jet-setter! Traveling around the world. Carefree. More pictures than your camera can hold. Praying with monks in the Himalayas. Soccer with Argentinian children. An epic meal at El Bulli in Spain - followed by mollecular gastro-intestinal pain on the way to Morocco, where you befriend some Saudis and before you know it you’re stepping down the stairs from a private jet in Dubai. Your first sand storm. But it doesn’t end there, because in Dubai someone told you about the modern mountain country of Khazakstan, and there you met some Russians whom you’ve joined for a motorcycle tour of the former Soviet Union. The plane ride from Magadan to Anchorage, Alaska is a nightmare, but you made it with another story to tell. We don’t even need to go into the skiing adventure in Banff, fighting a Yeti in British Columbia, or the horseback riding in Montana, because for most of us this will never happen.

Before you get too depressed, however,  I have some “staycation” tips of how you can travel the world in your own backyard, vicariously through your steak! May is Florida beef month, after all.

Your trip starts in Argentina where good beef speaks for itself. And although the only accompaniment of an Argentinian steak is some chimichurri (herbs, garlic, olive oil), the main course charcoal-grilled rib eye steak is preceded by fine cheeses, pickled roasted peppers, a green salad, “empanadas” (the best damn thing that’s ever been wrapped in pie dough), grilled sausages on a bun (called “Chori-Pan”) and is finished with fine liqueurs and “alfajores” (Argentinian Pastries). This is why Argentina shuts down for three hours each day, and you’re taking an extra long afternoon off to enjoy your steak.

You’re on the same side of the planet still, so a flight to Australia just makes sense. Here you put throwing “Another shrimp on the barbie!” to good use as you grill a garlic-rubbed beef tenderloin and poach some tiger shrimp in butter, Foster’s beer and curry powder. But don’t even think about having that steak before you’ve had a sumptuous appetizer of Australian beef pies with ketchup - yes, you heard right. And according to an Australian I once met, they consider ketchup to be a flavor enhancer (which sounded more like “Floyvah inhanzah mate!”.

Japan is the land of the Samurai, Sapporo beer and Kobe beef, and it’s a straight shot north from Australia. You start with an exotic appetizer of raw kobe beef sashimi with ponzu sauce and ginger, before you move onto a main course grilled Kobe beef steak marinated in garlic Tamari (a cousin of soy sauce) and served on wasabi mashed potato. As you wash it down with with an ice-cold can of Saporo beer, you learn about how the japanese cows which produce Kobe beef are fed a nutritious diet which includes daily beer and massages. This yields a nicely-marbeled, tender beef the Japanese tout as the best in the world - and although it’s really good beef, it doesn’t compare to the grass-fed Argentinian beef you had earlier on your trip, or good American beef.

You’ve spent three days in Tokyo trying to find a Mexican restaurant and although the taco-sushi Mr. Oyakada made you, it’s not the same. 36 hours later you land in Cancun, and head over to Playa Del Carmen where you marinate your steak in liquid smoke, soy sauce, garlic, and cilantro before you rub it with cumin. While you’re letting the flavor sink in, you make yellow rice, cumin black beans, pico de gallo, salsa verde with green tomatoes, and your famous avocado guacamole. Leftover avocados? No problem, stick them in a sauce pot with some sauteed onions, cilantro, garlic and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and stick it in the blender for the most amazing cream of avocado soup you’ve ever had! Now you’re ready to sear your steaks on the grill and enjoy a little taste of Mexico!

Your next stop is the pirate port of Jamaica in the caribbean where you begin your culinary journey with a spicy beef oxtail stew powered by scotch bonnet peppers. Yowza, that’s hot! You soothe your taste buds with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer while you rub jerk seasoning on your steak (thyme, allspice, garlic, onion, hot peppers, sugar, salt, soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, nutmeg and ginger) did you get all that? Good. Sear that on a charcoal fire and bring your taste buds back to life, the good life!

You’ve saved the best for last now that you’re back in Florida! You enjoy the sunshine while your steak swims in a pool of mojo (garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, black pepper, kosher salt, cilantro, Tabasco sauce, lime and orange juice) No need to get your grill out though, because in Florida, every day is a BBQ day! You sear your mojito steak and enjoy it with a citrus red cabbage coleslaw and fried plantain. A perfect end to a perfect trip, all in the comfort of your back yard!

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