, JANUARY 26, 2007 (STAR) EAT’S EASY By Ernest Reynoso Gala - (Editor’s note: Chef Ernest Reynoso Gala of the Reynoso Gala clan of culinary experts grew up amid the aroma of good food cooking in the kitchen of his mother, Sylvia Reynoso-Gala. As a boy, Ernest had pots and pans for toys. He followed his nose – and his heart – to pursue a burning passion: cooking. Today, he is the culinary director of the Sylvia Reynoso-Gala Culinary Arts Studio, where he conducts classes in both cooking and baking. He also writes for the monthly Flavors section of The Philippine STAR. He is a graduate of the Italian Institute for Advance Culinary and Pastry Arts in Soverato, Calabria, Italy, studying under chef director John Nocita and chef Nicola Stratoti; Le Muin de Mougins Allain Llorca in Cannes, France under chef owner Allain Llorca; the Ecole Ritz Escoffier at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France under chef Christophe Pouy; and the Ecole Lenotre Patisserie in Plaisir Cedex, France under chef Vincent Mary.)

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"Good food is the basis of true happiness." – Auguste Escoffier, premier chef des cuisines du Ritz Paris

The art of cooking steak is not difficult and is actually a lot of fun. All you need to know are the basic principles, and soon your gourmet experience will be a memorable one. I, like many people in this world, love eating a properly cooked piece of prime cut meat, and my travels to Europe and Asia have given me the opportunity to share some practical tips that I have learned to help and guide you on your way to a successful meal.

Here are some do’s and don’ts on how to cook steak.


• Buy the best quality of meat.

The best part is located at the back side of the cow, and this part is called ribs and the short loin area. The reason why this is the best cut is because this is the softest part of the cow. It has little muscle development unlike the leg area, known as the brisket and fore shank, where the meat is tougher and rich in collagen, which is often used for stewing or braising (slow cooking with stock). The short loin or tenderloin consists of cuts where you can find porterhouse or T-bone steak, and this is the best quality, while slightly below is the loin end where you can find a cheaper but not as tender cut called sirloin.

• Look at the fat.

When buying steak, observe that the whiter the fat, the younger the cow, and a young cow will always have more tender meat compared to a more matured cow. If the fat is thick and yellow (like the color of garlic), it is a mature cow and will have tougher meat. Buy the best quality and you’re halfway to a successful meal.

• Ensure that before you cook your steak, the meat should be cold and the center frozen.

This is important in order to retain the juice and blood of the meat. When you touch the meat with your fingertips, the meat should still be cold, not warm.

• Cook the steak in a flat pan one inch above the fire.

This will ensure that the steak will not be overcooked from direct fire. Heat the pan first, and when the pan is hot enough for cooking, lower the fire to medium low. Always cook your steak at medium low heat to ensure that the outside part of the steak is not burnt and the inside extremely raw. A medium low heat will make the steak evenly cooked.

• Season with salt and pepper just before cooking or while cooking.

Adding spices way ahead of time will make the juices in your meat ooze out, making the steak dry. The best time is 10 minutes before cooking.

• Cook steak with any vegetable oil, like canola oil, corn oil, or olive oil.

Add butter after steak is cooked, if desired.

• Look at the blood and sweat while cooking.

This is called the blood test. A little blood oozing out means rare, more blood oozing out means medium, plenty of blood oozing out is well done. Cook one side of steak, then flip. Do the same test for the other side of the meat, and cook to the desired doneness. Remove the steak and serve.

An instant meat thermometer may also be used, 140°F or 60°C for rare, 160°F or 71°C for medium, and 170°F or 77°C for well done.


• Don’t leave the meat to thaw outside at room temperature.

The common mistake of people is to take out the meat from the freezer, put it in a bowl, and leave it in the kitchen to thaw for hours. This will cause all the blood and juices to trickle out, making the meat as hard as a rock after cooking. The proper way is from the freezers thaw out in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave, making sure the meat is cold, the center part still frozen.

• Don’t ever cook steak at a high fire because this will make the outside part of the meat well done, and the inside very raw.

A trick I learned from the Italian Institute for Advance Culinary and Pastry Arts in Calabria, Italy under chef director John Nocita is never to flame your steak. Yes, it "looks spectacular and impressive but flaming will diminish the high quality of your meat, losing essential ingredients needed to make your food palatable to the highest standards." If flaming steaks is your passion, the grill should be 12 inches above the charcoal and the steak must have fat, like rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone or sirloin. Tenderloin is not a good candidate for flame grilling.

• Don’t ever make the mistake of pressing the meat with your turner or sianse while cooking.

This is a mortal sin when cooking steak or hamburgers. Again, this will make your meat dry and hard. The less you handle the meat while cooking, the better. When one side of the meat is cooked to the desired doneness, flip once and cook the other side. Then remove from the pan. Flipping the meat more than once will also make the meat tougher.

• Cooking should always be fun, and as long as you have the knowledge of some basic principles, the road to success will always be a satisfying experience.

Steak A La Pobre (Garlic Steak)

1 kilo beef tenderloin, partially frozen, sliced into six to eight pieces,

For the seasoning:

1 teaspoon rock salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

1 teaspoon calamansi or lemon juice

1 teaspoon liquid seasoning

For the sauce:

1 cup oil

1/4 cup crushed garlic

For the seasoning:

Season with 1 tsp. each rock salt and coarsely ground pepper, calamansi or lemon juice, liquid seasoning.

For the sauce:

Cook together in a small saucepan the oil with the crushed garlic. When garlic is almost brown, turn off the fire.

To serve:

Follow procedure on tips when cooking steak to desired doneness. Transfer to a hot plate.

Put two tablespoons of garlic sauce on each steak. Serve with rice, potatoes, and mixed cooked vegetables sautéed in butter.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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