I thought about which GW2 inspired recipe would be best to open this category with for a bit and decided it’d be best if I just started at the beginning. This was the first dish off the Tyrian menu I’ve intentionally recreated this side of the screen. One small step for an asuran necromancer, one giant leap into this project.
One cosy september afternoon in 2012 I was hanging around in our Borderlands map, leveling my engineer’s cooking skills. After half a day of thoughts along the lines of „OoooOo this sounds like it could be tasty“ „OoOo peaches“ or „OooOoo this would be awesome with lamb chops“ I went from peckish to ravenous when I hit the Orrian dishes with all the chillies and steaks. I remembered having seen lotus roots in an asian supermarket nearby, so I shot out of my chair, grabbed two rumpsteaks at the butcher’s shop on the way to the store where I peppered the shopkeep with questions about dealing with lotus roots. About five minutes into the explanation of how to prep the fresh root I cut that one short and ended up with a packet of thinly sliced but otherwise unprepared, frozen lotus roots which I have been using ever since. Sticking with the asian twist on that dish with the roots I also picked up some korean chilli paste and a bunch of culinary bombs in the form of bird’s eye chillies. So here’s what set fire to the fuse:
And here’s what I’ve made of it:
2x 200 g-250 g Rumpsteaks – I usually have my butcher cut off a 450-500 g piece and cut it in half. That way the individual pieces are thicker (rule of thumb: rumpsteaks should be at least 2cm thick to keep their moisture), making it easier to control the outcome. I like my steaks medium rare, while my better half prefers them medium. Thinner pieces just turn into well-done insults to the animal kingdom way too easily.
2 Tbsp Five Spice Powder
1 Clove of Garlic
2 Tbsp Hot Korean Chilli Paste
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 Tsp Palm Sugar or Honey
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil or Chilli Oil
1 Lime – you’ll just need the zest
1 Splash of Soy Sauce – only if the marinade gets too thick
1 Tsp Roasted Sesame Seeds
Optional: ½ Bird’s Eye – Taste the marinade, if you want to add more heat, use the chilli
1) Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. I tried several cuts of beef for this recipe and I’ve gotta say, the good old Rump is the best cut for this in my opinion. Rib-Eye works well too, but the spicy marinade kind of covers up the flavors of the Rib-Eye, so save the money and prime cut for a better occasion to make it shine. Using a fillet for this kind of recipe would simply be a sacrilege.
2) Dust the steaks with the five-spice powder and carefully rub it all around – don’t squish the meat though.
3) Stir all the other ingredients into a smooth paste – just keep the sesame seeds out until later. In case you feel like having a taste of the marinade, keep in mind that marinades in general have more oomph to them than a regular sauce, it’s way stronger than it will be in the end.
4) Turn the steaks in the marinade, making sure they’re covered evenly.
5) Place them in an airtight container, cover them with the rest of the marinade and keep them chilled for at least 3 hours – if you’re able to plan ahead, let them soak up the marinade overnight – the longer, the better.
6) Warning! Steak-101 incoming, skip this if you’ve got the steak thing down or think I’m being silly putting so much effort into frying a slab of meat.
101.1) First off, my reasoning for the fuss is quite simple. There’s too many conflicting instructions out there on how to prepare the “perfect steak”. One day I decided to try out some of these instructions in order to get a sense for a new pan I bought back then. Since that day generalized instructions like„fry for x-minutes for it to be perfect“ drive me up the walls since it all depends on your personal preference, the individual piece of meat and the equipment in front of you. Another (personal) reason for me to put some extra effort into preparing meat is the simple fact that, while I love animals, I could never be a vegetarian. We don’t eat a lot of meat, so when it’s on the menu I make it count, going quality over quantity and doing the best I can to make the best of the piece of meat in question. If you ever had one of those completely unsatisfying meals, thinking that this particular animal died for nothing – or worse, it died screaming – you know what I mean.
101.2) Take the container out of the fridge at least 2 hours (but not more than 4 hours, food safety and all that jazz) prior to working with the meat. Meat, when pan fried or grilled, should be at room temperature in order to cook quickly and evenly. If you have a vacuum sealed piece, take it out of the packaging and lay it on to paper towels about 30 mins before frying it.
101.3) If you’re using frozen (meat) goods for whatever reason, thaw them slowly – meaning move them from the freezer into the fridge about 1-2 days earlier, depending on the size of the piece. By thawing it slowly and gently you avoid additional moisture and quality loss – more than the quite harsh process of freezing it already has caused (water expands when it’s freezing, resulting in bursting cells within the meat and thereby changing texture and moisture content).
101.4) Use a heavy-based frying pan for this. Let it get to max heat by leaving it sit untouched on your stove for a couple of minutes on your stoves highest setting.
101.5) Use a highly heat resistant oil for frying, like grapeseed or peanut. Olive oil or butter would simply burn up in a literally smoking hot pan.
101.6) Pat the meat dry with paper towels (unless is marinated) and generously salt it just before its rendezvous with the pan. Don’t pepper it yet as the pepper would simply burn in the pan.
101.7) Lay down the steak into the pan away from you so the sizzling oil doesn’t splash in your direction. If there’s no sizzling you might have to protect yourself from on contact with the pan, the pan isn’t hot enough, so don’t put the steak in – the steak would boil and turn grey instead of frying and crisping up.
101.8) Now, you may have heard several, sometimes conflicting „rules“ concerning pan-frying steaks before. Like never to move it around in the pan. Or only to turn once after ½ of the cooking time. Or to flip it every 15 seconds and basting it constantly. I personally go with the flip-every-15-seconds-and-baste method if I’m frying it in my trusted „normal“ pan, since this method provides a superb, crispy crust I’ve only known on barbequed meat until I first tried this. When I’m using the griddle I stick to the don’t-touch-until-you-turn-and-only-turn-once rule. Because constantly flipping a steak in the griddle pretty much defeats the whole point of using the griddle in the first place.
101.9) Let’s talk temperature. If you’re not used to frying meat to a certain core temperature the best way to literally develop a feel for it is to practise with a probe and your fingers. Make an event of it! Whip up your favorite dipping sauce, cut up several differently sized pieces of meat and get your pan ready. Poke the probe into the center of the individual pieces and check the core temperature while lightly squeezing the piece between two fingers and memorize how it feels at which temperature (you’ll find the temperature-translation in 101.11). After a couple of pieces you will most likely be able to ditch the probe. I found this approach a lot more accurate than eyeballing a timepiece or relying on the following guidelines.
101.10) A commonly used “rule-of-thumb” (duh) for judging the core temperature without a probe, simply by lightly touching or squeezing the meat goes like this:
– Loosely bring together the tips of your right hands (left hand if you’re a leftie) thumb and index finger. Use the index or thumb of your other hand to check how the pillow beneath the base of your thumb feels and compare it to the feel of the steak in your pan. If the meat reacts to a bit of pressure like the heel of your thumb does, it’s “rare”.
– To get a feel of “medium-rare” loosely touch your thumb to the tip of your middle finger, lightly press down below the base of your thumb again and compare it to the meat in front of you.
– Bringing together the tips of thumb and ringfinger nets you a feel of “medium” to compare the steak to.
– The firmness of the heel of your thumb at touching thumb and pinky translates to a “well-done” steak.
I’m kind of wondering if this one works for a stonemason as well as it would for someone who doesn’t work the muscles in his or her hands as much… Still, I’m sticking to my advice to practise this with a meat-cube-event in your kitchen – get a sense for how things feel to you personally. Anyways, just like so many other things, this is a guideline, a helping hand if you will, nothing more. And like with so many other things, practise makes perfect~
101.11) With a nice piece of beef „rare“ translates to 48°C-52°C, „medium-rare“ to 53-55°C, „medium“ to 56-60°C, „medium-done“ to 61°C-65°C and „well done“… well I can’t tell you, that’s one term I’m proudly missing from my kitchen vocabulary.
101.12) Now those are the temperatures around which you take the meat out of the pan and place it on a plate under a blanket of aluminum foil to rest for around 4-5 mins. During that time the core temperature will rise some more from the residual heat while the fibers have a chance to relax again and keep their moisture inside.
That’s my two cents about pan-frying a steak – Not an exact science, but it works for me. Anyways, back to the recipe…
7) Remove the excess marinade and fry the steaks to your liking. Since the chilli paste is already salted you won’t need to salt the steaks before frying them this time.
8) While the meat is resting, move on to the fries.
The Lotus Fries:
500 g Lotus Root Slices
Shichimi-Togarashi (this is a common japanese spice mix with dried chillies and sansho pepper as main components.)
Peanut or Rapeseed Oil
1) As with most frozen things it’s better to thaw them slowly. Take the roots out of the freezer the morning before you make them and let them defrost in a sieve or colander. (If you’re really in a hurry pour hot water over them). Once you can seperate them without ripping or breaking the slices, set them on a clean kitchentowel one by one. Spread a second towel on top and use a large cutting board ot something similar to press down on the towel sandwich. Lotus roots contain lots and lots of water and you want them as dry as possible before you fry them. Spread them out on paper towels and salt them.
2) If you have a deep frying thingymabob in your kitchen, put it to work. If not, fill a large pan or pot with oil to about 1/3. Heat it up on medium-high heat.
3) Line a bowl or plate with more paper towels to soak up excess oil for later.
4) Check if the oil is hot enough by sliding in a piece of root. If it starts sizzling away immediately, its ready. If the oil starts bubbling and spitting wildly the root is still too wet – if you would go on dumping in more roots at this point it would boil over and you’d spent the rest of the evening scrubbing your kitchen to prevent it from smelling like a cheap diner for many days to come despite your best efforts. (The things you learn the first time you ever deep fry something…)
5) Fry the roots in batches. Don’t crowd the pan, the oil would cool down too much. Space the roots evenly so they don’t stick together. Make the first batch a smaller one to re-check the temperature – in this case I can’t give you a temperature you should stick to, simply because it depends on the thickness of the slices. You want them golden brown and crispy in the end. If the slices are too thick they will be the right color but still too soft in the middle, in that case turn down the temperature a little before you fry the next batch. Flip them over once and take them out with a slotted spoon as soon as they’re golden on both sides.
6) Spread them out on the paper towels a little and dust them with the togarashi.
7) Rinse and repeat. You’ll notice they loose a good deal of volume in the process, so even though the starting weight of 500 g might seem a lot, you’ll end up with 2 normal sized portions. (too small for some people’s likes, which is why I usually end up with the bigger steak and about 2-3 alibi fries.)
8) Plate up and dig in.
Lots of talk for something so quickly cooked up, I kind of got carried away with the Steak 101, sorry about that. By the way, let me know if that kind of Basic-recap is a good or a bad thing, I’m not sure about it myself yet…
Oh well. Like I said, this one started me down the long and adventurous path through the Tyrian cuisine. I hope you guys enjoy this one and stick around for seconds… See you again next week!