tapa trip

Been reading a lot about how to prepare beef. This article got me started:
http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/08/28/how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks/.

Reading the article & its theory of how pre-salting helps tenderize steaks, & other information from readers responding to the post, inspired me to try to figure out how to make Lola Manding’s Tapa. So here is the recipe as of today. I am still tweaking it:

This is for a 1.5-lb. rump roast beef with as much fat on one side of it as you can find.
Some parts of the rump roast seems grislier (has more litid) than i like.

  • Wash the meat & pat very dry with paper towels.
  • Cut the meat into approximately 1-inch slabs. Cut it so that each slab has a layer of fat on one edge.
  • Mix salt & pepper in a bowl. Put 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of this mixture on each side of the meat.
  • Let stand for 6-8 hrs.
  • Wash the meat to remove excess salt on the surface. Am rethinking this step–it may not be necessary if you only put 1/2 tsp of salt on each side; after 6-8 hrs., all the salt would have been dissolved & patting it dry with paper towels would be enough to prevent oversalting.
  • Pat very dry with paper towels. Keeping the meat as dry as can be–am not sure about the benefits of doing this with the tapa. The idea is to prevent steaming during cooking which may contribute to toughening of meat.
  • Cut into very thin slices.Cutting them into very thin slices shortens cooking time; meat gets tough if it is cooked too long on medium heat & scorched & inedible at high heat.
  • You may add pepper again at this point but not salt.
  • Put vegetable oil (been using grapeseed oil) in pan on High heat. When oil is hot enough, sear slices for no more than 2-3 minutes each side or to desired crispiness. Searing at high heat keeps the flavorful juices inside the meat.
  • Let stand on paper towel-lined bowl for 5 minutes then serve.

Other notes:
The explanation in the above article of how salt makes the meat tender (by “relaxing” the proteins in the meat) may not be correct; it might be the drying effect of salt that does this–specifically the salt draws out the water from the sodium ions already in the meat & concentrates it; & it is this that contributes to denaturization.

Several other things contribute to a flavorful beef dish.

  1. The quality of the meat–the amount of fat (which is the main ingredient for flavorfulness) & the tenderness is determined by what part of the cow the meat comes from.
  2. Cooking time–cook it quickly at high heat (thin cuts) or slow (thicker cuts) at low heat
  3. Marinade–the acid in citrus, vinegar helps tenderize meat
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