[Sca-cooks] Cooking steaks was Re: lethal drinks

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Jul 22 13:03:01 PDT 2008

On Jul 22, 2008, at 12:39 PM, Susan Fox wrote:

> Agreed, we will not.  I don't mind the trend toward Koreans opening  
> sushi restaurants as long as they do it right.  These folks did not.

Of course, there's the possibility that expectations focused  
differently. I would expect the fish to be scrupulously fresh either  
way, but not ice cold. Ideally, it would be alive at whatever  
temperature the water the fish lives in, is, and then prepped and  
served to me before too much of that state has changed.

Sushi rice in Japan is ideally served sort of lukewarm, and the fish  
cool, but these temps can sort of split the difference pretty quickly  
when it's one piece of sushi we're talking about. In the end, it's all  
a split between food safety and personal taste. If it's unsafe it  
doesn't matter whether you life it, and if it's safe, and you don't  
like it, it really doesn't matter all that much if it's safe.

>  Also, one runs the risk of Koreans adding Korean touches to the  
> Japanese cuisine, which I am not automatically against -- Korean  
> spiced nori sheets are very nice - but when Mistress Huette is with  
> me, I need to be aware of the capsicum allergy and be on guard  
> against anything chili-peppery.

Well, yes. There's always that risk. Capsicum use in the sushi  
industry in the US has grown, but it's not unknown or unused in Japan.  
I guess the rule of thumb is to ask.

>> Dragon, have you always eaten your steaks rare?  How did your  
>> mother or father cook them for you?  I think that those people who  
>> still order well-done steaks have immature pallets or are not  
>> adventurous eaters.  My brother is one of those kinds.  He still  
>> orders his steaks and [shudder] prime rib well-done.  But then he  
>> is not an adventurous eater.  And he dislikes sushi.
> My mother likes steak medium-rare and my father likes it well-done.   
> I take after mother and my unadventurous brother takes after  
> father.  Statistically perfect, that's us!

I grew up on cheap steaks cooked to the consistency of plywood at a  
time when cheap steak was still often cheaper than chicken. I actually  
had a restaurant waiter, when I was a teenager, have an honest, frank  
discussion with me on the subject of well-done meat. Essentially what  
he said was, "if I go into that kitchen and explain to the chef that  
you want the kind of meat we serve here well-done, well, I can do  
that, but the chef will feel insulted, and everyone except, perhaps,  
you will have a bad day from this point on, including all our future  
customers for the rest of the day. And most people agree the steak  
really is much better medium-rare. Can I persuade you to try it that  
way, and if you don't like it, I'll take it back to the kitchen and  
we'll cook it to well-done?"

See, now _this_ is how souls are saved. It's the line I always use  
myself, now.

> Meanwhile, back at the Medieval era... Documentation.   I seem to  
> recall a quote about Charlemagne's doctor trying to get him to quit  
> eating so much grilled meat.  Has anybody got that quote handy?


 From Einhard's Life of Charlemagne. The usual translation refers to  
roasted meats, I believe.

I like the quote from le Menagier (I think) about how if your guests  
are French, they will like their fish cooked to a certain level of  
doneness, and if they are Germans, they prefer is massively  
overcooked, or words to that effect, and that you should expect the  
Germans among your guests to send the fish back to the kitchen for  
further cooking.

I remember once serving pork loins, and after a couple of occasions  
when I had taken the temperature of each piece of meat, which were  
cooked perfectly, all opaque, white meat with no pinkness to either  
flesh or juice, but still plenty of moisture, and not having the heart  
to re-kill what was already good and dead, having meat sent back to me  
by people who were expecting a lovely piece of plywood. I tried  
arguing the point, but eventually came to the conclusion that this was  
not about quality, but about taste and expectations, and that what  
these people wanted was overcooked, dry meat, and would not be happy  
with anything else.

The next time around I had a herald in the hall taste the meat,  
pronounce it, in his opinion, perfectly cooked, but that he was a  
Frenchman, and if there were any Germans in the hall who wanted to  
send servings back to the kitchen to be overcooked to their  
specifications, the cooks had fires available for that purpose, should  
need arise.

I had one taker, who was in my household, and busting my chops. Or  
possibly in this case, my loins. That was the last time anybody  
complained about pork cooked to a dangerously rare 140-145.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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