Kobe Beef Sashimi

Credit: InterContinental Hong Kong

When you think of a Kobe beef steak, you think of grilling at a very high temperature for one to two minutes per side for a perfect rare doneness. We all know that Kobe beef can’t be overcooked. The fat melts away too quickly and all you have is an expensive but tough piece of meat.

Yet, can Kobe beef undercooked? The answer is no. Welcome to the world of Kobe beef sashimi. First, a word about what sashimi is. Sashimi is simply raw seafood or very thinly sliced meat, often quick pickled, served with a dipping sauce. The Japanese consider sashimi the highest dish in their culinary repertoire.

The making of Kobe beef sashimi is easy. Slice Kobe prime rib paper thin. If you have an at-home slicer, this step is easy, but your local specialty butcher might do it for you for free, or at least a modest price. Also, since most butchers don’t carry Kobe beef, the butcher might be excited to hold some Kobe beef in his hands.

The key to good sashimi are the garnishments and sauces. Traditionally, a daikon radish is cut into what we would call shoe-strings and served as a mound next to the meat. The sauces include the simple soy sauce with wasabi mixed in, though some traditionalists say the wasabi should be on the side. (Wasabi is a strong horseradish paste.) Grated fresh ginger also adds another layer of taste and heat.

The traditional sauce for meat sashimi like Kobe beef is called ponzu. You won’t be able to make ponzu, unless you are a trained chef with a great kitchen. The ingredients are worth noting, though: rice vinegar, dried tuna flakes, and seaweed simmered and then strained. The last step is the addition of citrus juice. Finally a mint called shiso is added for each piece of sashimi.

What’s the point? The subtlety of textures and flavors. Sashimi is the Japanese food version of fine wine: can you take your time and really taste the food with all its complexity. Add a bottle of good sake and have your own Japanese haute cuisine.

So, did you try Kobe beef sashimi? At home or at a restaurant? And the verdict is . . . ?

Butter Poached Kobe Rib-Eye Steaks

photo credits: Scott Peterson

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it,” Oscar Wilde once quipped, and lovers of Kobe beef certainly agree. When perfectly grilled, just lightly on both sides, Kobe steaks literally melts in your mouth like butter. The meat is soft, barely needs chewing. What could make meat like this better?

Real butter. This simple butter poached steaks recipe takes two indulgent ingredients—Kobe beef and clarified butter—and combines them. Even better, poaching is a simple task that anyone can master. Just to be clear, poaching is when fully submerged meat is cooked in any liquid that is kept just below boiling.

Use a double-boiler. If you don’t have that, use two pots, one large enough to fit four boneless rib-eye steaks and another larger enough for the first pot with the steaks. Bring water in the largest pot to a boil. Place the smaller pot into the boiling water and melt six cups of clarified butter in this small pot. When the butter is fully melted, add two smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, and six sprigs of thyme.

Insert a frying thermometer and when the temperature of the butter reaches 135-140-degrees, place the heavily salted and peppered steaks into the butter. Keep the butter below 140-degrees and poach the steaks for 30-40 minutes.

When done, take the steaks from the butter and let drain on paper towels. Take some of the butter from the pot and heat in a skillet. When the skillet is hot, sear the steaks on both sides to caramelize the sugars and give the steaks texture.

Tent the steaks with aluminum foil and let stand for ten minutes. When meat cooks, even when poached, the meat loses moisture, but when let to stand, the cooling of the meat brings the moistness back.

As the steaks rest, pour one cup of red wine into the skillet that you used to sear the steaks. Bring the wine to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. As the wine reduces, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits of meat from the pan. When the wine has half-way evaporated, remove from the heat and use as a sauce for the Kobe steaks. Lightly salt the steaks and enjoy.

Have you ever (over)indulged with a recipe for Kobe beef? Ever put together a Kobe beef-inspired menu that was over the top but tasted great? Tell us how you got rid of a Kobe beef temptation by yielding to it.

Kobe Beef: The Good Red Meat

kobe beef platter healthyRed meat gets a bad rap these days, but Kobe beef counters all the negative claims about beef.

We’re told that red meat is too fatty. Red meat causes all different types of cancer. Red meat disrupts our digestive system. Red meat is often tainted by strange diseases like “mad cow disease.” With all of this, who would want to eat red meat?

Anyone knowledgeable about the health benefits of lean red meat, best exemplified by Kobe beef, would want to eat red meat, that’s who. The information is out there. Kobe beef is good for you.

Let’s begin with something that is often ignored in health evaluations of food: how the animal is raised. We’re all told that chicken and pork are better than beef. Yet, few realize that when we buy chicken and pork at the supermarket, we’re buying an animal that was probably raised in congested and filthy conditions, pumped up with antibiotics so it didn’t die from disease-ridden conditions, injected with chemicals to promote growth, and feed an unnatural diet to pack on so much weight that the animal suffers from skeletal problems.

Think what you want, the meat from animals raised in these conditions cannot be completely good for you.

At the exact opposite extremes, most Kobe beef producers follow traditional husbandry methods, and farmers two hundred years ago didn’t use factory farming methods.

Kobe beef cattle live in fresh air and clean water pastures. They eat traditional Japanese diets that contain no hormones or other harmful chemicals. Many producers even replicate the massaging of the cattle that ranchers in the Kobe-area of Japan have used for centuries.

To ensure quality, each piece of Kobe beef is attached to a bar code ID. Think about it. If you wanted to know, you could find out exactly which cow your Kobe steak came from, what the cow eat, what vet care the cow received, and so on.

When you buy a pork chop or a chicken breast at the store, you have no idea where that meat came from. And the producers of that meat don’t want you to know.

The quality of care of an animal affects the health-benefits of the meat. The better the care, the more healthful the meat. When you buy any cut of Kobe beef, you know that you’re eating quality raised beef, not factory produced food product. The Kobe beef seller can prove it, too.

Kobe Beef and Wine pairing

kobe beef red wine pairingWe’re not stretching the truth when we say Kobe beef is the royalty of red meat. As such, it needs the perfect wine consort, its own Kate Middleton. Beautiful. Slender. Graceful. Dignified. Restrained. Only Cabernet Sauvignon meets the criteria.

Delicate, buttery, velvety, sweet, smooth, all words used to describe well-grilled Kobe beef. General grilling instructions are five minutes each side, tops, on a very hot grill, and then ten minutes rest, leaving the inside very rare. Anything more leaves the meat dull.

Any wine for Kobe beef must match this tender characteristic. The wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are fruity, mild, and soft, with little acidic or tannic qualities, both of which would overpower the gentle palate of Kobe beef. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the principal grape for two world-famous wines: Red Bordeaux and California Cab.

• Red Bordeaux: Probably the most famous wine in the world, Red Bordeaux relies mostly on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape for its mild drinkability. Red Bordeaux come in a wide range of prices, from ten dollars to hundreds per bottle, so you can choose to match the cost of your Kobe beef or balance things out.

• California Cab: Probably the most famous and popular wine in the United States, the California Cab offers the same smoothness of the Red Bordeaux, but at a lower price point, though the prices can reach the higher extremes.

Another grape to consider is the Tempranillo originally from Spain but cultivated around the world now. Young Tempranillo wines are mild, fruity, with somewhat earthy flavors. Be careful to avoid the aged Tempranillo wines that are much stronger and will overpower well-cooked Kobe beef.

Really, you can drink any type of wine you want with Kobe beef. The only rule is that since the properly prepared meat is mild and gentle, you want a wine that complements not dominates. Besides that, good eating and good drinking!