THE PERFECT STEAK: is it an impossible dream? Not any more...
TAKE a generously proportioned steak of your favourite cut — say, a well-trimmed porterhouse, ideally, about 3cm thick. Ensure it has returned to room temperature. Oil it well with EV olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Again, generously.
Have your gas or charcoal grill, set up for direct grilling, at full bore. Clean and oil your grill bars, remembering to drop the hood again, for five minutes or so, after you have done so to set the oil, and to return the grill to full temperature.
Now, drop on the steaks at 45 degrees (angle) to the grill bars. (If somebody out there just mentioned a hot plate, I'll pretend I didn't hear. But if you still own one of those abominations, there is plenty of room for it in Port Phillip Bay, or your nearest estuary!)
After about two minutes (for a 3cm steak), rotate the steak through 90 degrees. And after another two minutes, turn the steak and repeat the rotation procedure on the second side.
This will mean a total cooking time of 8 minutes, after which you can remove the steak to a rack over a warm plate and loosely tent it with foil, leaving it to rest for at least four minutes. And that's it.
The steak should be a perfect medium rare at this point. If your barbecue delivers a different result, adjust the timing accordingly next time. But remember, rotate twice and turn only once. And then, OFF.
For something a bit more ambitious, try this approach to cooking a particular type of steak — a large (600g approx.) rib-eye on the bone: follow the same procedure except that this time, instead of just salt and pepper, sprinkle both sides of the steak, after oiling with EV olive oil, with a rub made by pounding 50g of sea salt, 3tbs black peppercorns, 1tbs chilli flakes and 1tbs fresh rosemary needles in a mortar and pestle. But remember, this is a powerful rub, and is only for use on a steak like this one which, when it is cooked, you slice, thickly, parallel to the bone, for two servings.
I like to serve these medium-rare slices on a bed of sweet potato mash with a couple of oiled, seasoned and quickly grilled spring onions.
For this steak,follow the same cooking routine as with a thinner steak, but timings must change: give it extra time (at least two hours) to return to room temperature before oiling and seasoning it, cook it for 3 minutes in each position (i.e. 12 minutes in all) and rest for about 10, loosely tented. Squeeze lemon juice over each steak before slicing. Perfect.
Note: If somebody insists on having their steak cooked more than medium rare, do not cook it any longer: simply rest it in a warmer place, such as in a low oven, or on the rack over the grill (which you turn off, of course) with the hood lowered. And don't invite them back!
KOREAN FLAVOURS IN SEARED SCOTCH FILLET
THIS is a loose interpretation of a classical Korean dish called bulgogi which is traditionally made with a cut of beef – connecting tissues, actually – that is not readily available here. However, the stunning flavours of bulgogi can be replicated with thinly-sliced scotch fillet, an Asian marinade and a very hot grill.
For four people, have your butcher cut four steaks from a firm, dark, dry-aged scotch fillet, each steak less than 1cm thick. Flatten them a little more.
Make a marinade by whisking together half a cup of soy sauce, 3tbs sugar, 3 tbs rice wine, 2tbs sesame oil, 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, 6 finely chopped spring onions and a few grinds of black pepper. Place the steaks in a shallow dish, cover with the marinade, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Heat, clean and oil a barbecue grill to maximum temperature and place steaks on the grill, searing for just a minute a side, covered. Transfer to a cutting board and rest for a couple of minutes. Slice into strips, across the grain.
Alongside the steak on the grill, cook a dozen peeled cloves of garlic on soaked skewers and a bunch (at least 8) of trimmed and washed spring onions. Remove these with the steaks.
To serve, wash and trim 8 leaves of cos lettuce and, in each leaf, place slices of beef, a grilled spring onion and a couple of slices of grilled garlic. Also, some finely sliced red chilli, if you like a kick in your food.
Roll up the leaf and eat – with, if you have a Korean market nearby, some of that wonderful toasted sesame-based dipping sauce they sell. Or anything you like, really.
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