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Chef’s take on steak

Christopher Baker, Executive Chef, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, talks you through the steak eater’s guide to the very best meat

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Chef Christopher Baker
GN Focus

Whether eating at home or in a restaurant, the secret to a great steak begins with the source of the meat ­— the cattle itself. The breed of the cow, the food it has been fed and which part of the animal you choose greatly influence taste.

 Top names

Some of the most sought-after names include the Black Angus, Wagyu and Kobe. Black Angus traces its ancestry to Scotland and is synonymous with top-quality meat. Wagyu literally means cattle in Japanese, but today it is also bred in Australia, New Zealand and the US. Kobe, which is heavily marbled and exceptionally smooth, is often considered the king of beef, as only select Wagyu cattle are reared for Kobe.

At Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, we serve many of these, but are particularly proud to be able to serve Blackmore beef. This high-quality Wagyu meat, produced in Australia, is widely accepted as rivalling even the best quality brands produced in Japan. The meat is so beautiful and tender that even when eaten raw, it truly melts in the mouth.

 All about marbling

When buying steaks to cook at home it is important to look at their marbling. Marbling refers to the fatty white flecks and streaks seen in the lean sections of the meat. Keep in mind that all the white portions in the meat are not marbling; be careful not to mistake sinew for fat. Marbling does not touch the outside of the steak and is of a different texture to solid fat. As a rule of thumb, the more marbling, the better, and it’s best if it runs through the centre of the cut.

 Grass is the way to go

As a meat eater you need to work out if you prefer grain-fed or grass-fed meat. Grass-fed cattle is a lot leaner than grain-fed, which is fattier and more tender. However, the flavour is more intense with grass-fed meat. The original Black Angus from Aberdeen, which is grass-fed meat, needs a lot more chewing, while the same meat from America is a lot more tender. Or look for grass-fed, grain-finished meat, which has both the strong flavour and the fat.

Braising the steaks

The cut, size, thickness and actual tenderness of the beef depend on the amount of time you need to cook it for. But if you’ve got a hot charcoal grill, I would suggest one and a half minutes on each side, twice over.

So you are essentially doing each side for three minutes, but turning it midway keeps the juices in. This is best for steaks of 250g-280g and will give you a rare steak. For a well done steak, you want to cook it for four minutes on each side, turning in between.

If you’re cooking your steak in a pan, it’s best to work with smaller fillets, about 100g or so. For a medium-rare steak, place the seasoned, oiled steak in a hot pan. The moment you see it colour, turn it over and cook to a similar degree on the other side. For well done it’s best to repeat turning the steak after three minutes, additional on each side.

After the steak is done, it’s vital that you let it rest for a few minutes. This allows it to reabsorb the juices — that is how you get coloured exterior and a nice even pink when you cut into your steak. ­

— As told to Sanaya Pavri, Features Writer