After several days of hospital cafeteria food (which is quite expensive, mostly awful, and just not home-made), my mom was hankering for some steak. So as soon as my dad got out of said hospital, she bought some U.S.D.A. Choice top loin and we planned a Fourth of July celebration (see Perfect Grilled Fish and Grilled Potato Disks).
The scoring of the meat is subtle, yet critical (a bit like the unsung heroes of the clean-up crew….)
And then I, who had a hankering to do some fun experimenting with my dad now that he was out of danger, proceeded to screw up her day.
Once the paste is on, give it awhile to adhere and penetrate
“There’s this interesting Cook’s Illustrated technique I want to try…” begins the conversation, and next thing you know, Pedro’s on it with me, we are mucking about (dirtying kitchen stuff which she is mostly in charge of cleaning, because he does the cooking – and gets the glory, I might add. The cleaner-uppers are always undersung.) and everything is fun again. For us.
And penetrate some more while you prep other things
Except that – his crazy-ass diet means he’s not gonna eat it, and since he’s cooking the fish from across the street (see Perfect Grilled Fish), me and Leandro are not going to eat it, so really, none of us had any business getting elaborate with Myrna’s steak craving. A bit of pepper and salt and the woman would’ve been happy. But far be it for Natalia and Pedro to leave well enough alone…
So we did this gussied-up steak and she hated it. Hated it. Almost spun out. I almost spun out.It had been quite a week and we were all close to spinning out, except that it was Fourth of July and we reeled it in and had a wonderful day, once we remembered what we were about.
I really liked it and Leandro ate the leftovers the next day (once the fish was gone) and proclaimed it The Best Steak Ever, and Padushi and Mommy the Best Cooks Ever… so I am sharing it with you.
The important secret here is that the scoring and the paste add flavor and depth, AND make the rub stay on! Feel free to experiment with your own spice rub combinations, but be warned that the fish sauce is salty, so UNDERSALT with the rest.
And the next time, I promise, promise, promise Myrna to Keep It Simple. KISS, KISS, KISS.
And for those of you out there, a reminder. Don’t hug the cook without hugging the people who clean up after the cook!
Grilled Spice-Rubbed Steak
1.5 lbs beef top loin in two steaks
Scored in a crosshatch, about 1/16th inch deep and ½ inch apart
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp adobo powder
¼ tsp rosemary
¼ tsp turmeric
10 black peppercorns
Mix all ingredients of paste together. Spread evenly over both sides of steaks. Set aside to rest an hour. (In the fridge, if you must. On the counter if you don’t worry so much about such things).
Crush all ingredients of spice rub together in a mortar and pestle. When steak has rested, sprinkle evenly over all sides of steaks. Rub in (this is a rub, after all).
Cook on a hot grill, about five minutes each side, depending on thickness of steak, heat of grill and desired doneness. Allow to rest before serving and accompany with simple sides that don’t compete.