Steak by Mark Schatzker

Due to the mediocre food at work, I’ve started cooking dinner more often. Although this typically entails boiling dumplings and microwaving frozen chicken tenders, I actually do make steak sometimes. It hasn’t been easy though. I always forget to defrost ahead of time. The outside is always burned before the middle cooks at all. And I have to open the balcony doors to let out the smoke. But it’s all worth it if I can make good steak. So far, my efforts have been decent and have exceeded my expectations, but there is clear room for improvement. I’ve wanted to learn more about steak for a while now, and there’s no better time for this book.

1) Tenderloin is filet mignon.

Technically, filet mignon is only the tip of the tenderloin, but people use the terms interchangeably. Does anyone want to live in the filet mignon?

2) USDA grade is mostly based on marbling.

The assumption is that the more marbling, the better tasting the beef. However, the author spends most of the book debating whether this is true (and concludes no).

3) Modern cattle industry is based on feeding cows corn and grain because this makes cows finish fast.

Antibiotics are added to the feed so the cattle can handle the food.

4) Nazis tried to bring back the extinct aurochs through breeding.

Aurochs were found in cave paintings and believed to be the best cattle.

5) Certified Angus Beef doesn’t have to come from Angus cattle.

The Angus breed is native to Scotland. In America, cattle can be classified as Certified Angus Beef if they are 51% black and meet a list of other criteria unrelated to genetics.

6) Service a la russe is the format of dining where dishes are eaten sequentially.

This rings a bell. Maybe I’ve written about it before.

7) Eating four-legged animals was banned in Japan for a thousand years before 1868.

My favorite meal thus far is still the Kobe beef I had in 2014. Hopefully this will change in the future. Maybe Kobe beef at another restaurant (or Matsusaka beef, which is apparently even better).

8) Eating too much alfalfa can cause alfalfa bloat, and ranchers in Argentina would stab the cattle with a knife to release the gas.

Imagine the smell.

9) Veal comes from young male calves.

I’d always thought that veal came from another animal. I had never taken the time to think about what animal it could be.

10) Consuming too much lean meat is dangerous for humans.

In particular, eating only rabbit meat can kill people because the fat ratio is so low.

This guy is living the dream, traveling the world to find the best beef. Naturally, he also makes cringeworthy comments about how he’s scared his daughter would watch him choke to death on a bad piece of steak. All in all, despite noticeably getting hungry while reading, I enjoyed this book a lot and I’m more motivated now to cook better steak (starting with properly defrosting).

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