If fat equals flavor, then anything graded higher than prime -- such as the fatty Kobe, or its domestic cousin, wagyu-- would naturally be a richer product. Or so the reasoning goes. But akaushi presents a new option for steakhouses.
Since many dads will be in the mood for a steak this Sunday, the Hound thought it only appropriate to introduce the new kid on the block, and also give suggestions for cooking a own steak at home.
The mantra at Sam and Harry's in Schaumburg's Renaissance Hotel is all about the beef. Usually USDA graded Prime. But for the past few weeks, they've been experimenting with a new type of Japanese cattle, having nothing to do with Kobe or wagyu.
"It's called akaushi beef. It's a Japanese red cattle that originated in Kumamoto, Japan. In 1994 they received seven cattle and three bulls and there was a small nucleus of them. They kept them quarantined on United States soil for two years. They're breeding now in Texas," said James Papadopoulos, Chef of Sam & Harry's.
The company that raises the cattle claims it's higher in mono-unsaturated fats and says it's an all-natural product, meaning no antibiotics or hormones.
"It's high in oleic acid. The Japanese government has spent a lot of money trying to engineer a perfect cattle for health benefits, the amount of intramuscular marbling and consistency, this cattle is just fantastic. I love the flavor of it, its got great texture, great uniformity to it, and it's very consistent."
Papadopoulos seasons the steak on both sides with coarse, kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper. He gently places it in a smoking saute pan, lightly-coated with oil. After a minute or two, the steak is turned over, nicely seared; another minute or two and then the excess oil and fat are drained off. The chef adds some garlic cloves, fresh thyme and butter to the saute pan, then begins basting the steak in the browned butter, to add even more richness. The seared steak is then placed into a 375 degree oven, to finish cooking the meat. After a couple of minutes, the steak is drained over a rack to cool and rest a bit. Seasonal vegetables like radishes and carrots make a fine side dish - these happen to be covered in sunflower sprouts and young pea tendrils. He's been experimenting with pats of miso butter on the steak, but because it's so fatty inside, that might be overkill. Papadopoulos says he'll cook it anyway the guest wants, but loves the pan-roasted method.
"I love the crust that you get on the outside, it's one of my personal favorites, but I have no problem grilling it for a guest if they like it or broiling it perhaps or any other way."
The steaks can be ordered by mail at heartbrandbeef.com
Sam & Harry's
1551 Thoreau Dr. North, Schaumburg 847-303-4050