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Korean-Style Steak

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

After 40 days of veganism during the Russian Orthodox Lent, I am a true carnivore again! The idea for this recipe - a steak with a marinade that includes pureed fruit - comes from my boss, who has spent some years in Japan and is more in tune with Asian olfactory sensibilities than me. Pureed fruits are traditionally used in Korean marinades and for good reasons. They add the characteristic tinge of sweetness to the meat, and the acidity present in some fruit can help tenderize the meat.

This recipe includes my improvised take on a Korean marinade. No doubt, there are many ways to skin a cat, but I found this particular combination of ingredients to have the right balance of salt, acidity, sweetness and character. Ready for some meat?

What you need:
1.5 lbs Sirloin steak (or any steak of your preference)
1 small white onion, sliced in half-moons
1 small parsnip, sliced thinly
3 Tbsp olive oil

for the marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
4 Tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese sake; the kind sold in any grocery will do)
1 Tbsp ume plum vinegar (for extra acidity)
2 Tbsp vodka
1 ripe pear, pureed
1/2 peeled granny smith apple, pureed
1 large garlic clove, shredded
1 pinch peri-peri powder (or any other spicy pepper)

How to do it:
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. To puree the fruit, you can just shred them using a traditional shredder or puree in a food processor. Wash and dry the meat and submerge it in the marinade for 1 hour. Do not throw out the marinade afterwards.

Pour 3 Tbsp olive oil into a stainless steel* pan and put on high heat. When the oil is hot, remove the meat from the marinade, dry it with paper towels thoroughly and put into the skillet before the oil begins to burn. Be careful not to get splattered with hot oil, as you put the meat in. The time to cook your steak depends on the thickness of the meat. An average 1.5" thick steak should cook on high heat for about 5 minutes per side.

Remove the meat to a plate and cover so that it does not lose warmth. Don't be alarmed if there is a dark burnt residue on the bottom of the pan. Unless you truly burn the meat, this residue (called fond, or sucs) will become a foundation for a flavorful pan sauce. To make the sauce, throw in the onions and fry on medium heat in that same browned pan where you cooked the meat. When the onions are nice and brown, throw in the parsnips and saute a bit longer until the parsnips are done. Add 2-3 ladles of the marinade and thoroughly scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon until all of the fond is dissolved and the bottom of the pan is clean and shiny again. Let the liquid simmer for 3-4 minutes so that some of the liquid evaporates, leaving a thicker sauce. That's it!

Serve the meat with a spoonful of the sauce on top. Rice and a light salad are the perfect sides for this.
Mas-issge deuseyo!

* The stainless steel pan is necessary, because it encourages the formation of the fond. If you use a non-stick pan, there will be no fond to make the sauce out of.

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