Wagyu Steak Naoki Style

“The Summer Palace is a sprawling imperial encampment of temples, pavilions and halls set in a park around the vast Kumming Lake. The imperial family once used this wonderland of noble follies as a summer residence. If the weather is is fine, a visit here can make for a memorable day…” Thus said my favourite guide book to China from National Geographic Traveller (and by the way I strongly recommend National Geographic Guide Books for those who would rather a traveller than a tourist be). We had missed it on our winter visit to Beijing 5 years ago, so last July we set out with Claire and Mike, 11 km north west of Central Beijing, expecting something like this:
National Geographic Traveler China
Instead we endured one of those misty, smoggy Beijing days when it was hard to appreciate fully the beauty of the place.
A murky day at Kumming Lake
I somehow doubt that the Imperial family of old would have tolerated the smog of Beijing extending to their summer hideaway. All the same the elaborate Marble Boat and the views from the Pagoda of Buddhist Fragrance conveyed a sense of the decadence and sumptuousness of the glittering playground it must once have been.
Marble Boat at Summer Palace

Pagoda rooftops at Summer Palace
We had hoped to visit the restaurant at the Aman Resort at the Summer Palace which had been recommended to me by Twitter friend @paulshoebox but we didn’t manage it this time around.A few weeks ago I cooked @Pat_Whelan ‘s very special Wagyu beef from his herd at Garrentemple, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary for the first time,. The meat is high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as a result of its intense marbling. It is also significantly lower in saturated fat and higher in healthy monounsaturated fat making it far healthier than any other breed of beef available on the market. The beef is dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days.Before deciding how to prepare it I did lots of research by Twitter and I finally settled on making a Shabu Shabu hotpot which was very successful. But there were those, including Shane’s foodie friend and restaurant reviewer Carl Hayward in Beijing, who felt a better way to treat this delicate and precious beef would be to pan fry it as a steak.
Last weekend we were celebrating, long distance, the official marriage of Shane and Shan in China so I decided it was a sufficiently special occasion to be an excuse for purchasing some strip loin Wagyu steaks on line from James Whelan’s Butchers. This time I decided to use the method Carl learned when he attended a cooking class with, and subsequently interviewed, Japanese chef Naoki Okumura who, as it happens, is the executive chef at the Japanese restaurant in the Aman Resort at Summer Palace. Carl’s interview was published in That’s Beijing and you can read it here.
Naoki practices a fusion style of cooking he calls French Kaiseiki, an approach that combines French techniques with Japanese artistry. He told Carl that, with beef as good as Wagyu, it shouldn’t be interfered with too much – it needs to be the star of the show. Carl suggested serving it with some simple Chinese vegetables.
Wagyu Steak Naoki Style
Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 Wagyu rib eye steaks
Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 spring onion finely chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic finely chopped

Preparation and cooking

  1. Allow the Wagyu to come fully to room temperature – about 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Remove any excess fat from the wagyu beef steaks.
  3. Fry the fat, and take the rendered oil and decant into a container.
  4. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until the pan is smoking and white hot.
  5. Poke the steaks with a  sharp implement, making a dozen of so holes on its surface – I used a skewer.
  6. Using a brush, paint the oil over both sides of the steak.
  7. Season the beef with sea salt and black pepper at the very last second before cooking as salt will draw out the moisture from the beef.
  8. Sear the steak on both sides for approximately 2 – 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steak, so that it is no more than medium rare and the interior fat has been heated just enough to melt in your mouth while keeping its velvety texture.
  9. Allow the steak to stand for a few minutes in a warm place.
  10. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients, mix well and serve in individual small dishes
  11. Slice into angled strips and serve with pak choi and sweet potato cakes and with stir-fried mushrooms and the dipping sauce on the side.

Side Dishes:

I prepared 3 side dishes:
Stir-fried pak choi with dried shitake mushrooms
  • Stir-fried oyster and wild mushrooms – also from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice
  • Sweet potato cakes – hong shao bing – from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan Cookery

Yes, youve guessed it. I’m a big fan of Fuchsia Dunlop 🙂
“Slating Up”:

Wagyu Steak Summer Palace Style

Now serving Chinese food in big bowls as they do in China is one thing but I decided that the steak needed plating up, or rather “slating up”. And I was delighted to discover, in another bit of Twitter magic, that the lovely Tara Hammond @slatedireland of www.slated.ie lives just down the road from me in Bray so I was able to call into her to purchase some. The slates are gorgeous hand-crafted pieces and have a sealed, wipe-clean finish.
My efforts to use the slates in this way made me realise I need “plating-up” or food-styling lessons even more than I need cooking lessons but the slates are truly beautiful things.
The Wagyu beef cooked this way was delicious and more than a little addictive. It barely needed 2 and a half minutes on each side on a very hot griddle pan to reach a perfect medium rare but make sure to rest it for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To be honest the dipping sauce and mushrooms weren’t really necessary. The lovely pak choi dish and sweet potato cakes were a sufficient foil for the delicate beef.
Variations:You could omit the dipping sauce altogether or do as Naoki Okumura did and serve the wagyu steaks with a Homemade Ponzu sauce. I couldn’t source all the ingredients for this sauce in time for last weekend as bonito flakes and kombu are relatively hard to find in Dublin. I’ve subsequently tracked them down in the Asia Market.
Or you could make a simple honey and rosewater sauce (4 tbs runny honey warmed with 1 tsp rosewater) and serve it on the side as a dipping sauce for the sweet potato cakes as it enhances their natural sweetness.
You will want to save the beautiful resting juices from the steak and drizzle them over before the meat before serving so, for that reason, this isn’t the best use of the lovely slates but I’m going have fun using them for starters, appetisers and desserts.
Homemade Ponzu Sauce
  • 25g light soy sauce
  • 25g freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 7g Mirin (a light, sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 2g dried kombu (dried kelp, also known as konbu)
  • 2g bonito flakes (also known as katsuobushi, this is dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna)

  1. In a heavy based pan add the soy sauce, lemon juice, Mirin and dried kombu.
  2. Bring to the boil and turn off the heat.
  3. Add the bonito flakes and allow to rest and cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain into a serving bowl.
  5. Serve with the wagyu steaks.

3 thoughts on “Wagyu Steak Naoki Style”

  1. I was lucky to go to the Summer Palace on a sunny day and I loved it, it was beauitful there. Slates are just wonderful, food looks so much more sophisticated on them 🙂 The beef looks delish!

  2. I hope to go back some day when the sun is shining, maybe with #babyshananigans in tow :-). The slates are just gorgeous but I definitely need “slating up” lessons!!

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