Beef cuts, cooking steak plus FooDiva’s top steakhouse picks in Dubai
Steak has just been voted the UAE’s most favourite dish – not surprising given the carnivorous culture we live in – but almost two thirds of this vote is from women. Now that’s a refreshing revelation. Either that, or us ladies are more likely to enter surveys ;).
So it seems quite apt that I should introduce you to a very accommodating ‘cow’. Well that’s how the Group Executive Chef for Gaucho, Mike Reid enthusiastically and rather humourously explains the different Argentine beef cuts. But for you I’ve got an illustration.
The three most popular cuts for meat-lovers are the chorizo, otherwise known as sirloin with its layer of fat on one side, the marbled ancho (rib-eye) and my fave picanha (top rump) with its juicy strip of crackling. There’s also the cuadril (a leaner rump) and the even healthier, tender, but not as flavoursome lomo (fillet). Some are spiral cut which works well for churrasco-style marinades. All of Gaucho’s beef is imported from its very own pampas in Argentina where mainly Scottish Aberdeen Angus, as well a few other breeds are grass-fed. On a separate note, its wine list is purely Argentinian too..aside from champagne of course ;).
When buying your own beef, a few of my own tips:
- Buy beef from a reputable butcher. Prime Gourmet is where I go for quality and proximity (they also deliver), but Lafayette Gourmet is also a goodie.
- Pick beef that is bright red and shiny in appearance, whilst firm and springy to the touch.
- Remove from the fridge about an hour before cooking so it reaches room temperature, especially important if you like your steak blue, rare or medium-rare (frankly the only way you should eat it!) A cold steak contracts when it hits the heat which will make it tougher.
If you prefer to cut your own beef, here are some tips from Chef Mike that I picked up:
- Firstly, handle the meat as little as possible – be gentle otherwise you will bruise it which will make for tougher and less tasty steak.
- Lomo (fillet) – the top is for churrasco, the spiral cut. Cut the rest for chateaubriand (centre), bife de lomo (fillet steak) and medallions (the eye). So as not to waste the tail end, score rather deeply in three places, fold and voila one chunk of steak! No wastage in restaurants for sure.
- Ancho (rib-eye) – cut a thick ribeye steak, a cinta de ancho (spiral cut), and the same but smaller tira de ancho.
L to R: The lomo (fillet) beef cuts, the ancho (rib-eye) cuts, all cuts grilling away.
Cooking beef, whether grilling, pan-frying or roasting, all can be tricky. A couple of extra minutes and the meat’s overcooked. So Gaucho has the following instructions for grilling a steak:
- Start by brushing a little corn oil which has a high smoke point and no flavour, unlike olive oil which smokes at 120 degrees, and with cooking at 180 burns, making it very bitter.
- Squeeze some lemon into the steak, and crush whole cloves of garlic on it.
- Put it face down on the grill – that’s the sexy side that people see. And leave it. What you want is for the fibres to start opening up.
- Then you put a little oil on top and salt. That’s the only side to salt. You can put as much salt as you want as the meat will only absorb what it needs.
- Then you see juices coming out – the change in the colour of the juices determines how it’s cooked. If it’s clear it’s rare, if it’s clear with a little red, it’s medium rare. The more brown the juices are, the more cooked it is.
- Cook it 65-70% on one side, and then turn it over to cook the other side (only turn once). Salt is a retardant of heat – the reason we don’t salt that side is it stops the caramelisation.
- Whatever the meat doesn’t need will fall onto the grill.
- By the time the steak is plated and served, it has rested enough.
If you prefer pan-frying or roasting beef, watch this brilliant two-minute video from Dubai’s online gourmet grocer, Chez Charles. As for steak cooking times, here’s a guideline but it really depends on the cut and thickness:
- Blue – 1-2 minutes each side.
- Rare – 2-3 minutes each side.
- Medium rare – 3-4 minutes each side.
- Medium – 4-5 minutes each side.
- Medium well – 5-6 minutes each side.
- Well done – 6-7 minutes each side.
For those who don’t fancy beef, the new Gaucho menu features a higher proportion of seafood, chicken, lamb and veggie dishes. I can vouch for the Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche with roasted tomato and pepper sauce, onions and coriander…pretty sublime.
Now Gaucho at DIFC is not the only Argentine restaurant in town. Asado at The Palace Downtown is a goodie and hugely atmospheric – steaks aside, do try the signature dish, roasted goat on the spit, which incidentally is locally sourced.
Dubai is brimming with steakhouses, so if you prefer meat other than Argentine, here’s what makes the cut for FooDiva 🙂
- Prime 68 at the JW Marriott Marquis – bag the one and only window table overlooking Burj Khalifa.
- Rhodes Twenty10 at Royal Meridien – steaks aside, try the burger topped with foie gras on a bed of mashed potato.
- The Rib Room at Jumeirah Emirates Towers – a steakhouse that bridges the gap between formal and romantic. Grab one of the banquettes.
- The Exchange Grill at Fairmont Dubai – a damn good classic especially the chateaubriand a deux.
- Seafire at Atlantis The Palm – for grain-fed beef from its very own farm in Australia.
- West 14th at Oceana on Palm Jumeirah – the most affordable licensed steakhouse in town.
- Le Relais de L’Entrecôte at Dubai Festival City or its rival Entrecôte Café de Paris at Dubai Mall – nothing else but steak in a sublime secret sauce with frites and green salad.
And hot of the press, we’ll soon have a couple more steakhouses in town – celeb chef Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse concept Cut knocking on our door or rather the Address Downtown Dubai’s. More here, as well as a newbie at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.
I presume if you’ve read so far, steak ranks high as one of your favourite dishes. But is it number one? Any more steakhouses to add to FooDiva’s list? Or do you prefer cooking steak at home? What’s your favourite cut?
Disclosure – I was a guest at a cooking masterclass and ENBD Bon Appetit dinner at Gaucho. Rest assured, my views are as always mine alone. For a different perspective, check out fellow food blogger Life in a Food Lane’s post.