Gyu Grilled @ Home

Have noticed Japanese grill beef using high temperatures?

There is a reason for everything, I know it sound cliché and even if there is a reason it doesn’t always make it right. Before I start with discussing grilling, you need to accept that Japanese have techniques unlike most others in the west, and this short article is about optimization of cooking meat – measured by the end result.

Remember taste is personal so each person has his/her ideas about taste and technique. When you BBQ in the west it is common to use marinades and rubs and no doubt those enhance flavor. In Japan the only two flavor enhancers used are salt and pepper and not much more.

So, lets start with grilling and why high temperature is so effective or not. In most cases, direct heat contact better known as conductive heat can cause the meat’s muscles to shrink and the meat fibers get tighter. If you cook tenderloin watch out, tenderloin is a tender muscle, but also a very lean one, with comparatively little intramuscular fat.

But Japanese are cleaver and figured out that direct contact consequently causes surface tension and the tightening and contraction of the muscles. So, they use kushi (metal skewers) and only indirect heat, so the intense high heat air and radiant heat sears the meat and there is zero direct contact – so no hot surface contact as you find in a western BBQ.

BBQ is appropriate whenever you bad have fatty meats, and the meat’s drippings fall onto the hot coals, smoke and aromas from the grilling are irreplaceable. On certain cuts of beef, (sirloin) most other cuts grilling is critical if you want the smoky toasted savoury flavours.

If you try to grill a sirloin, it’s best and a tenderloin well forget it unless you protect the surface with some added fat. Beef tenderloin is a long, narrow muscle called the psoas major, which comes from high up inside the beef loin, beneath the spine and directly behind the kidney. It extends roughly from the hip bone up to the 13th rib, and it doesn’t get much exercise, which is why it’s so tender. But when you expose it to high heat the heat can adversely affect the texture.

Back to grilling, and so when you grill lots of things happen positively to influence taste and no doubt grilling is the top choice of most home chefs. I don’t grill only because the control you have is much less unless you are a top professional and even still it’s tough. But I know some chefs Sat Bains a top chef in the UK, who detests sous vides and grills mostly.

Even still you can easily overcook a steak and at the same time cooking on a grill means the steak will be more cooked on the surface than it will be inside. For many home chefs, they don’t care, and most wouldn’t use sous vides as their top choice of method. But I mostly use sous vides and the method of choice and then turn to pan searing, and I do it slowly and raise the heat gently not to scorch the surface and get burn spots.