Another installment in our OMG IT’S TOO HOT TO COOK series. Today, a seemingly simple salad that’s about as far beyond steak on lettuce as pit tickets are from camera phone concert footage uploaded to youtube. This is from the Barcelona Cookbook once more, which has been a constant source of culinary strength during this particularly trying summer. I thought for sure the wife would have a problem with the dressing of this salad: a departure from the traditional vinaigrette in that it contains no oil or other fat [Ed.–Olive oil does come into play at the very end, in all fairness.]. It’s little more than a blend of vinegar with soy sauce, honey, red pepper flakes and black pepper that leaves you with more of a pickling liquid for your veggies than a proper dressing. And yet, it works. Oh, does it work. It covers romaine, cucumber, poblano, red pepper, and red onion (I think jicama was also called for, but I didn’t have any, oh well. I imagine chayote would be nice as well).
I usually buy flank steak when I want to make a recipe like this, but this week I decided to try hanger instead, and I was glad I did. I can understand why people might shy away from this cut for certain applications; I won’t go the way of the culinary meat cynic and say that Americans are trained to only like the dull taste of modern, mass-produced US cow instead of beef that tastes like… well, something. Hanger does have a taste that moves it towards the flavor of offal, but it still retains a very respectable distance from the unadulterated taste of organ meat. I marinated it during the day with a mixture of soy, brown sugar and vinegar (my usual beef mixture, including cover salt, sweet and sour) and cooked it very quickly on the electric grill. The meat is thinner and more delicate in composition than the flank, thus eliminating the need for the thermal gorgon that is my grill pan. The flavorful cut stood its ground against the strong dressing and the entire affair is best a brief rest period, allowing the acid to slightly wilt the greenery. The components of the dressing matched those of the marinade, ensuring consistent flavors that melded well together. Naturally, any juice lost from the steak during slicing was promptly added to the salad bowl. We call that extra credit.
We still have at least a solid month of oppressive temperatures before we break through to the cooler weather that accompanies the celebration of harvest season. Stay the course until the, friends. Cook on!