Ghetto Sous Vide Marinated Hanger Steak Saäm

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.
Me: Kiwis?
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?
Me: 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?

33 Comments add yours

  1. I use kiwi in my kalbi marinade: http://the-cooking-of-joy.blogspot.com/2009/05/kalbi-korean-barbecue-short-ribs.html

    Mmm, those ribs wrapped up in the lettuce with rice look fantastic!

    And the story about how the couple ended up dating, too cute!

    steph on April 12th, 2010 at 10:37 am
  2. just like joy mentioned, kiwi is sometimes used in galbi marinade. Pear is more common I think. The two sound very similar.

    I never knew kiwi was so popular in Korean food!

    steph on April 12th, 2010 at 10:38 am
  3. Kiwis have an enzyme that can tenderize meat.
    Some people believe that, like soaking in an acidic marinade, kiwi makes the meat mushy rather than tender.

    I just simply salt (or soy sauce) meat and depend on technique and a good choice of meat.

    Soy sauce is an awesome base for a marinade. I love using it!

    The Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher did mention that the meat would get mushy if you left it in the kiwi for too long, so I guess it has some super tenderizing enzymes!

    steph on April 12th, 2010 at 10:40 am
  4. my mom uses kiwi when she’s making bulgogi… one note though. too much kiwi = meat mush.

    i’ve also seen her use lemon.

    Thanks for the tip!

    steph on April 13th, 2010 at 9:17 am
  5. I havent gotten the Momfuku book yet, but really tempted to pick it up after finding your blog! Are you poaching the meat? Also what is the hanger cut? Keep up the good work!

    The meat is being cooked “ghetto sous vide,” so in a as close as you can get to a vacuum sealed bag at a constant low temperature. With real sous vide, there’s water circulation as well.

    The hanger steak is a kind of an uncommon cut of meat; it hangs from the diaphragm and there’s only one. Sometimes they don’t harvest it and it just gets cut into other regular cuts or is used for ground beef.

    steph on April 13th, 2010 at 9:21 am
  6. Rub some fresh pineapple on your meat before you marinate. It’s got great enzymes in it that will tenderize the toughest cut. Either that or sneak a little bit of fresh pineapple juice into your marinade.

    I love pineapple with meat, yum!

    steph on April 13th, 2010 at 9:27 am
  7. The enzyme is called papin/papain and is present in a lot of fruits. Mangoes are rotten with it; under a bit of heat, they can dissolve a porkloin into mush in no time. Careful application can make things “tender” but in an odd way that I don’t find particularly pleasant. I think you’re on the right track with the sous vide approach. Great Pictures btw.

    I guess too much tenderizing can be a bad thing, especially as it seems like papin can turn your meat to mush! Thanks for the tips!

    steph on April 13th, 2010 at 9:28 am
  8. Serious eats has an article about another method of ghetto sou vide!
    i
    n a picnic cooler! genius!

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/the-food-lab-perfect-rack-of-lamb.html?ref=se-bb1

    That is genius; who knew coolers could be used to keep things warm!?

    steph on April 14th, 2010 at 9:03 am
    Wei Lin Sung on April 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm
  9. I once watched a show on marinating meat…but I think they were cooking pork chops…anyway they used yogurt to marinate and even the toughest meat came out tender…makes sense with the whole enzyme discussion I guess.

    I think a lot of people marinate in yogurt. I’ve never tried it though. Sounds like it’d be good!

    steph on April 14th, 2010 at 9:04 am
  10. Great stuff! So do you think the meat tasted raw or cooked through to rare? Must seek out hanger steak too and give it a taste test.

    I’ve heard of the enzymes in kiwi, but never used it for meat. I always buy good quality/cuts of meat so don’t see the need. Now i’m craving steak!

    It was pretty rare. I wouldn’t say raw, but more rare than I’ve ever had steak before.

    steph on April 14th, 2010 at 9:36 am
  11. the only thing better than a sous vide…is a Ghetto sous vide!

    Hahahaha, well, it was much cheaper than buying an immersion circulator, that’s for sure!

    steph on April 16th, 2010 at 11:59 am
  12. “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. ”

    I’ve found that meat cooked sous vide does not require resting. I’m guessing that the fibres don’t contract as they are never exposed to very high heat. If you make this again you can re-heat any meat cooked sous vide by putting it back into the water bath at the preferred cooking temperature prior to searing in a hot pan. This should give you the temperature you are looking for.

    Thanks for the tip about re-heating the meat!

    steph on April 18th, 2010 at 9:47 am
    Peter Black on April 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm
  13. paw paw is even better than kiwi or pinapple.

  14. Awesome pics and cool kiwi idea – got to try that sometime.

  15. Great stuff!! I built a “real” sous vide rig for <$75 with a thrift store crock pot and a used industrial PID unit. It took some homework, but if you liked this, 24-48 hr roasts and easy pork confit are the next step.

    I’m still trying to get my hands on a hanger steak, but top blade chuck steak held at 130F for 24 hrs is a revelation!!

  16. There’s actinidin, a protein-dissolving enzyme, in kiwi. The enzyme is destroyed when kiwi is heated so use raw kiwi for tenderizing. Other options would be papaya that has different, but similar, enzyme than actinidin (papain).

  17. You may want to try something a little higher than 125 degrees. Not that I don’t like my steak a cool blue sometimes, but I think you might wanna cut the carpaccio a little thinner. Yums!

  18. you would have made that steak alot more “tender” if you cut it against the grain, rather than with it. looks like a tasty steak though.

  19. I could be wrong, but judging by your pics- it doesn’t appear that you separated the two lobes of hanger. There’s a fibrous connective tissue that runs the length of the hanger that should be removed, therefore creating two steaks. One typically being larger and of a more consistent density. The other is of varying densities and much harder to cook as whole. Which is part of the reason that A): hanger is almost always sliced to order in most restaurants(because it’s a rather ugly steak served whole, and you can mix and match the off temp pieces), and why hanger used to be known as: ‘The Butcher’s Tenderloin’. It’s a fairly unattractive peice of meat, and difficult to cook evenly, while still retaining a great amount of delicious fat and flavor. It was a tough sell, so Butcher’s would typically just bring it home, or re-purpose it.

  20. Cut the damn membrane.

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