Do you like good steak?
Everyone agrees that tender, succulent steak doesn’t depend on one factor alone. It has to do with the breed, animal husbandry, how the meat is handled and stored before it reaches the butcher but also how the meat is prepared and cooked. All of the above can fall apart if there is a break in the chain or it can come together and bring about a mouth watering result at your table!
It was the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century who brought the first cows to Argentina. And so, the passion for meat began. The BBQ is called asado and Argentinians eat steak 5 days a week! The asado plays such an important role in Argentinian culture that songs and poems are written about it.
The major breed is Aberdeen Angus and the classic Argentinian steak is Sirloin, Bife de Chorizo. They call it chorizo, a sausage but of course it has nothing to do with sausage! Bife de Lomo or tenderloin is also a preferred cut. The Vacio is a flank cut unique to Argentina, thinly cut and cooked till crisp. The main accompaniment to their steaks is chimichurri, a sauce made of parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper and olive oil.
It seems that BBQing is a national pastime in Australia. Aussies are so passionate about it that they have developed an mobile app about it.
There is an endless list of cattle breeds in Australia because the country is so vast and the climate so diverse. Even so, Aberdeen Angus is the dominant breed, with Shorthorns and Herefords following suit.
The most popular beef cuts in Australia are traditionals like Sirloin and Rump which are simply ‘thrown on the Barbie’.
Japanese beef cattle is called Wagyu and the government has declared them a national living treasure! Meat from Wagyu is very tender, full in flavour and very expensive.
4 cattle breeds are considered Wagyu. The Japanese Black , the Japanese Brown, the Polled and the Shorthorns. The production of beef is highly regulated and only the best genetics are kept for breeding. So valued is their meat that other countries, like Australia, secured Wagyu genetic material in the 1990s and is now the largest producer of these animals outside Japan.
According to Japanese tradition, cows are massaged and brushed to improve blood circulation and digestion. Also, the cows are often fed in beer soaked hay. The appearance of Wagyu steak is finely marbled throughout. European and American consumers are used to leaner cuts so only connoisseurs can appreciate the buttery texture of this steak.
A favourite way of cooking steak Japanese style is of course Sukiyaki. Top sirloin steak , thinly sliced and cooked in a sweetened soy sauce. An alternative way is to serve the cooked steak with a touch of wasabi.
Spain is best known for its top quality pork products like jamon and chorizo. Recently however, there is a turn towards beef production as well. Spain’s best beef comes from Galicia in the northwest and Catalonia and Aragon in the northeast. Spaniards prefer steaks from older animals.
The cattle breeds are mainly Galician Blond (Rubia Gallega) from north west Spain and are raised in small family farms. The meat has a balance between fat and muscle and is tender and succulent.
The Basques cook their steak slowly, so it becomes crispy on the outside while remaining rare in the middle. A popular steak is the chuleton de buey, a thick cut bone in rib steak, often cooked for two people.
Americans love their steaks so much that they give them familiar names like the Denver, the Western griller, the Ranch and the Cowboy. It seems that the Wild West lives on through steak! Most common cattle breeds are Angus Red, Herefords and Shorthorns. In America the beef comes from young animals fed on rich high energy grain. This leads to increased marbling, tenderness and juiciness.
The most popular American steaks are Ribeye, New York Strip Beef Tenderloin ,also known as filet mignon, Top Sirloin and T Bone . Americans cook their steak simple and add ‘’sides’’, like béarnaise sauce.
Uruguay is a small country in South America, found between Brazil and Argentina. It is said there are more cows than people in Uruguay, 3 to 1 actually! 80% of the land is for raising cattle and beef is the leading export.
Cattle breeds are Herefords and Angus. The cattle is fed on grass which leads to a high proportion of Omega 3 fats, the good healthy kind, in the meat.
The Uruguayan traditional dish is the asado. The steak is cooked on a firewood barbeque. Embers are placed around the meat, never below it and usually vegetables are barbequed with the meat. The steakhouses are called ‘’parillas’’ and one can select between ‘’juggera’’, steak cooked rare or ’’punto’’, medium, or ‘’cocido’’ well done!