RECORD STORE TALES #994: An A5 Canada Day
From Jen and I here at LeBrain HQ, we hope you had an excellent Canada Day. For us, we did things a little differently this time, and it turned out aces!
First, I awoke early and began work at 6:00 AM on two separate projects. Musically: the hinted-at, overdue Kiss project that I have been working on and must be finished! This is a collaboration with new contributor Jonathan Lee. We have taken on the challenge of ranking all 24 Kiss albums, and we (coincidentally!) wrote about 3650 words each. We were in synch with verbosity, but not rankings! The final lists will be dropped simultaneously in two posts on July 5, next week! It was Jonathan who challenged me to take him up on this project and I think you will like what we both came up with. It took a few hours to format everything right, but by the end of the morning, I had the lists ready to rock.
In conjunction with this, I was seasoning my new cast iron pan. This had to be done in preparation for our Canada Day dinner’s main course: a genuine Japanese A5 wagyu steak from the Miyazaki prefecture. This expensive piece of meat is unlike I have ever cooked before, and I had something of a sleepless, anxious night overthinking it.
By morning, I had a plan. The wagyu was going in the cast iron pan with some butter, garlic, onions, peppers, portobello mushrooms, and asparagus. Therefore I needed to season the pan in the oven beforehand, and I spent several hours on that while also working on the Kiss lists. For never having done it before, I think it turned out pretty well. Its surface became smoother, and water beaded off.
In the afternoon we headed over to my parents house to use their new barbecue. You see, having never cooked wagyu before, we decided to bring some backup steaks. I was going to cook them on the barbecue the normal way, while doing the wagyu in the pan. Meanwhile, Jen was roasting veggies in the oven with enormous amounts of butter and hand-diced garlic. The garlic was intense, but to die for. Her potatoes, carrots and asparagus were amazing.
Timing was everything. We started at 4:00 PM with the veggies. By 4:35 the barbecue was warming up for the backup steaks. Meanwhile, the cast iron pan was warming up in the oven.
Finally, the moment I had been waiting for all week. The moment that kept me up the previous night. The moment of truth! The wagyu was, as all the Youtube videos promised, delicate to the touch. The fat began melting as soon as I touched it. Although everyone seems to have different rules about it, I elected to keep the wagyu in the fridge as long as possible to minimise the premature melting of fat. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. In hindsight I could have gone a teeny tiny bit heavier on the salt and pepper, but you can always add that after the fact as well.
The cast iron came out of the oven and onto a hot burner. Into the pan went a generous amount of butter and my veggies including several cloves of garlic. A few minutes later, things were smelling wonderful and I flipped the steak – not before touching the handle of the pan with my bare hands though! Fortunately it had cooled enough that I didn’t burn myself. These new cooking techniques take some getting used to. After a couple more minutes I removed the wagyu from the pan, and let it rest. When sliced, it was somewhere between rare and medium rare, which was what I was aiming for. Meanwhile our backup steaks were also ready at a perfect medium rare. It was 5:00 by the time everything was done and rested.
A wagyu steak is a sharing steak. It is simply too rich to eat like a normal steak. I served up some portions for each of us, and we delighted in eat bite. Some went with carrots – Jen’s favourite combination. I enjoyed the wagyu with the portobello mushrooms, or a clove of garlic. Because it is so rich, we tended to pair it with other things on the plate. The cast iron did a nice job of creating a beautiful caramelizing on the vegetables. The wagyu had a great sear. The pan also cleaned up easily afterwards. No stick. I must have seasoned it right?
We barely touched the backup steaks (they will go into another meal) and we finished just over half of the wagyu. This is what I expected. I wonder what that wagyu will become tomorrow? A stir fry, most likely. Wagyu stir fry. Looking forward to it — and many more meals with my new cast iron pan.
Having enjoyed wagyu at one of the best steakhouses in Toronto, my own steak stacked up well. I would rank them just about equally. Theirs had more seasoning, but our side dishes surpassed theirs by far. Miles. No comparison. Our sides were incredible. Modesty? This is me being modest! And all told, our meal was about a third of the price of the steakhouse. With more steak and more leftovers. Jen and I both worked hard Canada Day, and it paid off. Best meal we ever made, and we did it as a team! She picked up all the meat, veggies, and even the pan. We timed everything perfectly. It went so well that we determined we don’t need backup steaks next time.
With the Kiss project, Stranger Things, and a massive dinner taking up my time, it was the end of the Canada Day before I realized, “Hey, I haven’t listened to any Canadian music today”. So my friends, here’s some Max the Axe. Turn it up.