This technique I developed over the years and it is both easy to do and you accomplish a false Maillard reaction according to one chef I showed. But in fact, he is wrong and didn’t understand the definition of Maillard.
Maillard reaction is a non-enzymatic browning is a chemical process that produces a brown color in foods without the activity of enzymes. This happens when we make toast, roast a marshmallow or brown chicken in the oven. The two types of non-enzymatic browning are caramelization and Maillard, and I am doing both.
While I achieve both, a steak looks good and tastes good, and more importantly is evenly cooked. Next time you eat steak and cut into the center, watch the outer edge and see if its grey colored more than a few millimeters of cooking. The longer steak is exposed to high heat either in a pan, an oven or a BBQ, to avoid overcooking the edge of the meat, more than the center.
So I cook the meat sous vides, in a water bath at 55°C for 55 minutes, and the meat should arrive at a core temperature of 55°C. This time I reached 52°C, so when using sous vides it is best to add some time to the cooking time given the thickness of the meat is more than usual.
In this case it was 70mm+ on one side. Always calculate using the thickest part of the meat, and don’t worry about overcooking the beef. Remember you are at 55°C and so you won’t go over this temperature range by more than a degree or two at most. The most important is timing, and if you would leave it for hours in the water bath, the texture of the meat could change.
This photo below is not raw beef, it is the beef after it is completely cooked and removed from the sous vide, cooked to the temperature of 52.5° and I used a probe to check the meat’s core temperature. It has been rested and is now ready to be colored.
Step #1 after resting I use of some olive oil in a skillet, you sear the meat to get color, the Maillard reaction a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars.
Step #2 use some shoyu and de-glaze when the pan is still hot, pour some into the pan as it dissolves instantly. It is then that you turn the steak and coat all sides. Then I add some Mirin, and the alcohol in the liquid evaporates and the sugars remain. I use these sugars to caramelize the meat.
Step #3 I remove the meat from the pan and rest it, but not before sprinkling some paprika pepper, and garlic over the top. This goes the meat another dimension of taste. You can also finish your meat on the BBQ at a very high temperature for what seems like 25 seconds on each side. This will likely color the spices and if you aren’t careful they will burn and not the meat.
Now that’s not the end of the world but be cautious and stay in control when cooking. The key is process and by understanding the pitfalls you can avoid bitter compounds. I always prefer to add my spices after cooking to be on the safe side. But if you are careful, do it anytime and use your eyes to tell you when to stop-trial and error is required.
I also add some salt such as a sea salt before slicing it, or if guests prefer at the table. Salt is not the same for all guests, and some dislike too much salt. In this process you are already using shoju (soja sauce), so you are already adding a certain saltiness. But salt added on top hits the palate in a different way, as does ground coarse pepper.
Step #4 I use a sharp sushi-grade knife to slice my meat without causing any cutting friction, and the result is what you see. Observe the outer edge, it has minimal overcooking and there is even rose color through the meat from the top to the bottom.
Bottomline is too much heat for too long wrecks any good piece of meat, and searing and coloring are very important to the success of the taste. Some consider the Pittsburg rare to be among the tastiest but I am not sure about that.
Pittsburgh Rare: http://mesubim.com/2013/12/15/bbq-not-pittsburgh-rare/
There is a fine line between good taste and carbonization but don’t be afraid as long as you aren’t charring the hell out of the beef, and if you are worried about destroying the beef read the posting Pittsburgh Rare and judge yourself.