Friday, October 4, 2013

Microwave steak

People react as if I'm proposing to put a baby in the microwave to keep it warm in the winter, when I speak of my microwave steak recipe. It really isn't a travesty; it works quite well in making a delicious steak ready to eat!

Here's what I don't like about conventional methods of steak preparation:

You end up with an incinerated outside, and a rare inside, and this gradient gets worse the thicker the steak is. The underlying problem with all fry-only methods is that they all involve heating the inside by transferring heat through the outside. This process inevitably results in an outside that is significantly more cooked than the inside. Some (but not all) cooking methods call for using lower heat. Maybe that works, but even if it does, I like my method better even if it's just for the way it hacks the laws of physics.

The crucial feature of microwave heating that my method exploits is that microwaves can penetrate the interior of the steak. If one were to simply nuke the steak for a minute or two, the steak would cook from the inside out, rather than from the outside in as when one fries it. Mixing the two methods gives me the ideal steak:

Medium rare throughout the whole thickness. Sometimes I've been lucky and there's been no perceptible gradient, other than having a very thin (<1mm) outer edge.

I've found these numbers to work well for me, assuming a single, modest steak (around 150g, just right for breakfast):

1. Heat a saucepan, using maximum heat on my "small" stove plate. Wait until the bottom reaches the Leidenfrost point. (Drip some water into the saucepan to see if it beads up without flash-boiling.)
2. Nuke the steak at 100% power for about 30 seconds. While it's nuking, wipe the bottom of the heated saucepan with an oiled piece of paper.
3. Fry each side for a minute - which is just about how long it takes for the steak to stop sticking to the saucepan.
4. Thick cuts may justify another 30 seconds on each side.

Update: It seems there are other people who use the same technique, although I should point out that "sear to seal the meat" is BS.

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