Tuesday, December 4, 2012

not a single f given

2009 Château Toumilon Blanc | AC Graves

The filter ramps up the colour a bit, but really, if the steak's not pink, what's the point. A few weeks ago, I was ditched by my pretty lady for the evening, so dinner at home - beef and a white (!) wine, offering some degree of consolation.

I'm a big believer that beef should be dry aged. No marinating, no foolishness, but dry age is an absolute necessity to get a tender, flavoursome piece of meat. Steak is really the furthest thing that a traditionally Chinese family would cook at home, so it's taken a while for us to learn what the different cuts are, where to get the best beef, how to consistently cook beautifully pink steak. Starting with Chinese grocery stores, we advanced to Costco - cheap and all, but the problem is, Costco doesn't dry age their steaks. What you get is something that, although correct in marbling and flavour, lacks in texture and tenderness. And that to me is the key reason of why beef should be aged - the process yields more succulent meat, and more intensity of flavour. So if Costco wasn't going to do it for me, then I'd try and do it myself.

Side note: I don't eat a lot of red meat, so on the rare occasions when I'm desperately craving beef and actually go out to grab some steaks, I buy rib steaks from Pusateri's. They age for about 5 weeks, and cut it well over an inch thick - a dinosaur bone of a steak. But my mother was away in Shanghai, and I wanted to stay strictly within our grocery budget, so I picked up 4 steaks from Costco, at $10.99 a pound. 

The whole idea behind dry aging beef is to remove moisture. As the beef dries, protein molecules break down, rendering a more tender texture. At least that's what I think happens - what do I look like, a food nerd?! I packed each piece individually and stuck it in the freezer. Eating one every week gave me a good idea of whether this method worked, and really, the whole point was to satisfy my red meat urges. Win-win all around.  

I'm sad to report that it didn't really work. No, the beef just wasn't very good from the start. Decent amount of fat marbling, but it stays tough, even as I tried adjusting final temperature from rare to medium-rare. Good flavour though, but for a more transcendant beef experience, let the professionals do the aging for you. 

The wine was good though. Are people still talking/referring/prescribing to matching colour of wines with protein types? Because really, white wine goes with everything. EVERYTHING. Good amounts of acidity, a roundness of texture, bright fresh flavours - as long as you have those elements, the wine will complement your meal beautifully. And that's what happened here. Dry white Bordeaux is all love, that sharp sauvignon blanc aroma that carries new oak so well, blended with the depth and body of semillon. This one, a more humbler iteration, does the job very well. Hits the spot, as they say. The main event for the evening was the steak, and you therefore don't want the wine to be overbearing. Fairly straightforward concept. So when we're pairing food + wine, let's ditch the colour-coding and instead talk about those 3 things - acid, texture, and freshness of flavour. 

And buy dry-aged beef.


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