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KotW: A memory of beef February 15, 2009

Posted by panterazero in food philosophies, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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Probably in 1976, in a restaurant in San Francisco’s Japantown called Sanppo, I had one of the most intriguing Japanese appetizers I’ve ever had. On the menu, it was called “Grilled Beef.”

It was simply two large cubes of beef, which had been grilled, but on one side only. The side of the cube touching the plate was almost, but not quite, charred. The visible top was almost, but not quite, raw.

Give that a thought. It means that a bite of that beef, a vertical slice, comprised infinitesimal layers of every possible degree of doneness — therefore every possible intrinsic flavor — that the meat could have. By a cooking method so simple as to seem slipshod, a genuinely complex and elegant dish had been created.

Now — okay. To begin with, those two cubes were beef of a quality that would be very difficult to buy on the open market. Also, the cooking had been done with fanatical care; I’ve tried to duplicate it since, and have only come close. But whether I’m brave enough to use this technique to create an appetizer, I sure have learned something about browning beef before I stew it. And we’ll get to that tomorrow, when I post a recipe.

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