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Friday, July 10, 2009

Here's the Beef

Maria wanted steak for dinner, which meant an expensive dinner. A steak in the U.S. is already a relatively pricey ingredient, however, in Taipei the prices are even higher. Good steaks are available only in some of the more western-oriented supermarkets. I bought the steaks at City Super, a supermarket originally from Hong Kong, located at the basement of a Sogo department store. There are many imported beef, mainly from the U.S. and Australia, to choose from. I picked a cheaper cut, U.S. prime ribeye, which goes for NT$200 per 100 gram, or roughly US$28 per pound. This is quite a premium to pay for a steak since a similar cut at Fresh Direct in NY costs around US$17 per pound.

Besides the price, another problem with buying steaks in Taipei is the lack of varieties. The supermarkets mostly just have a few cuts, namely, ribeye, fillet, strip, and sirloin. They don't carry the cheaper cuts that I like to buy, such as skirt, hanger, brisket, or flank.

As for the cuts that are available, the steak in the supermarkets do not come with bones, especially the ones from the U.S. Taiwan only allows boneless steak to be imported from the U.S. because of concerns for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) or Mad Cow disease. Therefore, while I typically like to buy a bone-in ribeye, because I think the flavor is better, I have to settle for boneless steaks.

Cooking an expensive ingredient at home always seems to be a bit tricky. If a mistake is made there isn't anyone else to blame, the dish can't be sent back like in a restaurant; it is really just like throwing money into the trash bin. To cook the ribeye steaks I decided to follow Alain Ducasse's advice. Instead of using the oven or broiler, I cooked the steaks on top of the stove to have better control. I did not use super high heat. I seared the steaks first and later added butter and garlic and then constantly basted the meat until they are cooked to the right temperature. Then I let the steak rest for half of the time it took to cook.

In short the steaks were quite delicious. Although they are expensive, it is an indulgence worth having every so often.


  1. I had some beef for lunch today. A 6oz filet mignon at Del Frisco's. The beef was delicious, but the mashed potato on the side was not as exciting. The chef created a small hole in the middle of a large mound of mashed potato, so as to fill it with melted butter. The pool of yellow shine would have appeared more appetizing if the plate showed more balance in color and texture (perhaps by adding some green or elongated shapes like asparagus). But lunch was delicious nonetheless and I was a little sleepy in the afternoon.

  2. the steak looks delicious. i want some too. but i still find handling huge pieces of expensive meats at home a bit too daunting.