January 23, 2011

Wagyu steak with béarnaise sauce

when i was little, i was a very difficult eater, my mom must have worried so much!

the only sandwiches i took to school for lunch were slices of white bread with some butter and a stick of milk chocolate (who remembers those Perettes?). i only wanted the white meat of roast chicken. cooked potatoes? yuck, but with a little butter and salt? well, ok then. spaghetti could only be with Miracoli sauce (that s out of a packet). a soft-boiled egg? EEEEHW! steak, no fat or gristle, and well done! oh, and those little cupcakes my mom used to bake, please without the candied peel!

at my grandparents place here in Belgium, i refused to have sour cherries with my meatballs (that s a typical dish over here, will post recipe sometime), i only had tomato soup or chervil soup, never ever the vegetable soup with those chunks in it...

and my grandparents in Japan! the things they went thru to make me eat. i remember so clearly how they always tried to make my brother and i feel 'at home' by cooking us Western style food. imagine...! we were not rich, but they made sure we had some meat everyday! which is definitely very unusual in Japan!
so you can imagine their surprise when i last visited, when i told them i was crazy about sushi and sashimi and grilled fish and soba (it was always udon before, always)...

but now, OMG, i have changed so much! i ve learned so much! i think my brother became a foodie much quicker than i did, even tho when he was a kid, he only wanted to eat his spaghetti with ketchup! but he makes a beautiful chawan-mushi, just like a pro!

so, as i mentioned earlier, i hated rare steaks, just the thought of it made me squirm, but i ve since discovered the joy of a correctly cooked steak, TG! adding a classic béarnaise sauce was something you would never have seen me do either, but again, tastebuds can develop in a good way ;-)

a few days ago i saw a picture on FB by another foodie friend of mine, and that inspired me to try making that béarnaise for the first time (i must admit, i had only tried it in restaurants and bought prepared ones before).

the steak i used was Wagyu beef (admittedly from Australia, but good enough for me), because it had been such a long time since i had some 'meltingly' good steak. i went for a tenderloin, but next time i think i ll go for a rib-eye, cuz i m sure it contains even more flavor.

for the béarnaise i adapted a recipe from Gordon Grimsdale s 'The Book of Sauces'

here s how it went:


1 tenderloin Wagyu steak (+/- 150gr) per person
some groundnut oil to rub the steaks with
a griddle pan

for the sauce:
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 stalks of chervil, finely chopped
2 or 3 stalks of tarragon, finely chopped
1 stalk of parsley, finely chopped
5-7 black peppercorns, crushed
3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of dry white wine
3 egg-yolks
180 gr very cold butter, in cubes
salt and pepper
some more chopped tarragon and parsley


1. take the steaks out of the fridge and bring to room temperature... never ever cook steaks straight from cold because they will seize up and not relax, which means tough, and probably, still cold meat if cooked to medium rare
2. meanwhile, begin by heating the chopped herbs, the shallot or onion, the crushed peppercorns in the wine and the vinegar and reducing the liquid until about half
3. put the yolks in a bowl above a pan of simmering water (au-bain-marie) and whisk together
4. thru a sieve, add the wine-herb-vinegar reduction and whisk well as you would a sabayon
5. add the cubes of butter to the egg mixture (still au-bain-marie), whisk each time until well incorporated before adding another cube
6. the sauce will slowly emulsify to the consistency of mayonnaise. then add the rest of the chopped herbs
7. turn off the heat, but leave the bowl on the pan to keep warm and let the herbs infuse some more
8. heat a griddle pan (you know, with ridges) until quite hot
9. rub the steaks with some oil on both sides and lay into the pan
10. WAIT and do nothing until you can easily lift the steak off the ridges without it sticking (it will do this when it s exactly ready)
11. turn over (please do this without sticking a fork into it, you ll lose the juiciness if you do)
12. WAIT
13. turn over with a quart-turn to give the steaks that criss-cross pattern, and turn over again without the quart-turn so the other side gets a criss-cross pattern too (it always looks nicer, doesn t it?)
14. take the steaks out of the pan, season with salt and pepper, and leave to relax for a minute or so (although, with wagyu, it s not really necessary)
15. serve with the warm béarnaise and some classic French fries, and a salad if you like (in summer i always like thinly sliced tomatoes with very thinly sliced onion and a dash of white wine vinegar)

i surprised myself yesterday, the béarnaise was total bliss (ofcourse it would be, with all that butter) and the wagyu was amazing... once in a while, a little extravagance is allowed i should think

i wish my mother could see me now, she was a great cook, but we didn t get the chance to share that passion... i have to believe she s watching from somewhere and guiding me with a smile ;-)

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