This morning I went to unload a kiln, and the results were inspiring. This is why I make ceramics: apart from the pleasure of working with clay (and productivity makes me happy) the resulting pieces make me want to cook better to do them justice. In this case, these 7-sided bowls made the difference between some steaks with other stuff on a plate and a meal that really worked on every level.
It also allowed an opportunity to show once again why I love rib eyes so much. Handled properly, they’re three steaks in one (or two and a half, anyway). Either way, they’re winning! Duh.
I cut them apart and trimmed all the fat. Each separate piece got a different treatment, so that the finished product would be as interesting as possible. The central steaks got a simple salt and peppering, the spinalis dorsis went into a marinade of gochujang, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and sesame oil, and the various little scraps got a good hard mince and then bestirred themselves with scallion, ginger, garlic, and fish and soy sauces. I formed the mince into three small meatballs, and wrapped the marinated meat up into rolls and skewered them.
I threw the balls in the pan for a couple of minutes to brown nicely all around, then took them out and put in the steaks, putting a nice sear on both sides. They came out for a rest and the roulades went in after, browning hard and then getting a welcome bath in the rest of the marinade. Meanwhile I blanched spinach, drained and tossed it with ponzu and fish sauce, then cooked soba in the same water.
The best supporting actor, though, was the burdock that I dug out of the garden this afternoon. It did me a lot of good to get dirty and pull some food out of the ground. There was a bad flood the other day, and it fucked the garden pretty well up, but given recent events it seems pretty tasteless to whine about so I’m going to focus on the great good fortune I enjoy, today manifesting itself in the form of an honest sweat and a fistful of burdock. I washed, peeled, and cut the roots into coins, then threw them into a pot with soy sauce and some of the jellied goodness that resulted from braising a hunk of the miso bacon in homemade phở.
Just a quick aside here to mention that bacon phở might just be the most amazing braising liquid I’ve ever tasted. Just saying.
So dinner was soba with burdock and the braising juices, blanched spinach, and the three beef treatments. I opened a couple of my favorite Japanese hot sauces to stir in along with a good glug of sesame oil, and had at it. The meatballs were perfect, I must say, since they were just pink in the middle and soft, fluffy, and very nicely flavored. The steak was damn good, and the roulades were absolutely stunning in taste and texture. The spinalis dorsi is the best eating muscle on a cow, and Korean flavors know exactly how to make beef all it can beef. Honestly, this was as good as tiger blood, Adonis DNA, and 7-gram rocks all blended together into a smoothie of tri-winning magnificence. It was so good that if this steak had a publicist she would be calling Us Weekly and saying “at least it’s not a Scientologist!” to anyone who would listen.