Tonight's low- and no-carb dinner comes courtesy of Costco, which sells 1.5-kg packages of paper-thin shabu-style beef for W30,900. The beef is so amazing that all you have to do, to prep it, is throw it on the skillet with a wee bit of oil (the oil's not actually necessary) and a dash of salt and pepper. That, all by itself, is unbelievably tasty.
But tonight, I fancied the beef up a bit by adding some freshly made Argentinian chimichurri to one batch, and by tossing a second batch of beef in a classic gravy. I took one picture of each batch, which you can see below.
If the above sauce looks a bit like algae to you... yeah, it does to me, too, and that's how it looks in real life as well. I did some research on chimichurri before coming up with my own recipe; there are three or four main herbs associated with it, and recipes vary widely in terms of which herbs get used, and in what proportions.
The main herbs are cilantro, fresh basil, fresh parsley (usually Italian parsley), and fresh oregano. Aside from that, chimichurri is a lot like pesto, but without any nuts or cheese, and with the addition of plenty of red-wine vinegar to heighten the acidity. My own sauce began with a cup of olive oil followed by two handfuls of basil and two handfuls of cilantro. I added almost a quarter-cup of red-wine vinegar, fresh-ground garlic, salt, pepper, dried parsley, dried oregano, powdered onion, and a scant half-teaspoon of my dietetic xylose sugar to blunt the vinegar's acidity a tiny bit. The result was perfect.
I admit I know absolutely nothing about Argentinian cuisine and Argentinian flavor profiles, but I've heard that Argentina is a huge, meat-revering gaucho steak culture, the way Brazil is (in fact, I suspect Argentinian steak is going to be the Next Big Thing in the States once the Brazilian rodizio wave dies down). Chimichurri contains—as chef Anne Burrell might say—all the ingredients of a marinade: an oil (olive), an acid (vinegar), and aromatics (garlic and onion). I didn't marinate anything last night, but one of these days, I going to have to do a steak à l'argentine. Now if only I could find a place to grill...
The next picture is of a more classically American approach to beef: gravy. See that sheen? I had made yuksu (meat broth) by slow-cooking some leftover scrap meat from when I'd made French dips with Ligament, plus some super-fatty cuts of beef I had just purchased for precisely this purpose. After nine or so hours of slow cooking, the aroma that filled my apartment was heavenly. I let the broth rest overnight, then reheated it and strained it the next day, taking some of the liquid and stirring in cornstarch to thicken it into a gravy. I then slopped some gravy into the skillet with the frying beef, pulled the beef out of the liquid and let it drip-dry, then took the photo you see below:
Both forms of beef would go well as the filling for sandwiches. Alas, I can't do that—eat bread, I mean—if I'm on a low/no-carb diet, but a man can dream, right? Admittedly, the cornstarch made the gravy a bit carby, but I kept the mixture thin so as to minimize the number of carbs, and as I said, I drip-dried the meat before eating it. I'm debating whether to share any of this with my boss and coworker... both the gravy and the chimichurri are pretty damn good.
I've heard that chimichurri also goes well with chicken and seafood. I've got some chicken breasts and jumbo shrimp, so who knows? I might give the sauce a whirl on some dead birds and dead sea-critters.