There’s only one hanger steak per cow, making it tough to get your hands on one. Luckily for me, when I called my favourite butcher, they happened to have one in stock. When I got there I had a chat with the butcher about the increasingly popular cut of meat.
My butcher seemed pretty pleased that I was buying a hanger steak and asked how I was going to be cooking it. I didn’t know how to say that I was going to cook it in the kitchen sink, so I just mumbled something about marinating it in apple juice. He got really excited when I mentioned the apple juice.
Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher: Apple juice, yeah, that’s the way to go.
Me: Oh yeah?
Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher: But you know what really works? Kiwi. Yeah, it’s a secret, like this steak here. Not everyone knows about hanger and not everyone knows about kiwis, yeah.
Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher: Crush them up, marinate the steak with the crushed fruit for no more than two hours and your steak will be the most tender you’ve ever had, yeah?
Me: Kiwi, huh?
Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher: Yeah, fire up the barbecue, mash up some kiwis and you’ll be eating good tonight, yeah?
The Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher got me pretty excited, especially when I saw the steak. Hanger steaks are huge! I was a little taken aback by how big it was: a little over two pounds. I was expecting something smaller because Chang’s recipe calls for 8-ounce steaks, but I realize now that he cuts his hanger steak into smaller steaks.
When I got home, I cut the steak in two, and then went about making the marinade of apple juice, soy sauce, onions, garlic, sesame oil and pepper. The steaks are individually marinated in freezer bags so you can sous vide them in the marinade the next day.
Instead of running the steak under hot tap water as Chang suggests, I put the freezer bag in a giant pot on a burner on low heat, keeping the water temperature steady at 125˚F. If you moderate the temperature by adding hot and cold water as needed, it’s basically the same method as the slow-poached egg.
After 45 minutes in the water bath, the meat is shocked in an ice water bath for 20 minutes and chilled until you’re ready to eat. When it’s time to eat, the steaks are finished on the grill or in a blazingly-hot cast iron pan.
I found that searing for 2 minutes per side provided a nice char, but didn’t heat up the meat much. I might have let the steak rest a little too much. Slicing into the steak, I could tell that it was super-tender. It was also super-pink. The photo of Chang’s steak is super-pink as well, so I just trusted in the science of cooking and rare steak.
This ssäm was pretty damn good: tender meat, spicy-savoury sauces, crisp lettuce and steamy rice made up perfect bites.
On a side note: My Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher actually got me a little excited about using kiwis and meat. I think I’m going to give it a go sometime. I’ve never heard of the kiwi trick, has anyone else? What are your tricks for tenderizing meat?