Two months ago my friend and a big Braai4Heritage supporter Johan le Roux sent me an article about the best steak in the world. A day later I changed the itinerary of my next European visit to include a few days in Stockholm.
Walking into the Östermalmshallen market in Stockholm I pretty much knew what to expect, as there are many photos of it on Internet. In a nutshell, the market is an exceptionally classy food market with all the bells and whistles you expect, but what struck me were the fresh fish and meat stalls. My only regret is not allowing the time to sit down at one of the restaurants and ordering a meal.
When you fly half way around the world to buy a steak, you buy that steak, so I headed straight to the Willy Ohlsson’s stall. The steak in question is called the Gold Kött, and is available in sirloin or rib eye. The meat comes from hand picked animals, is then dry aged on the carcass for five weeks, after which it’s divided into cuts (whole big pieces), but left on the bone and covered with a layer of melted fat. It is then aged for another five weeks. On the advice from the butcher, I went for rib eye (this would also have been my personal choice). He cut a piece of about 3cm thick, which in deboned rib-eye terms means it weighed about 400 grams. After 10 weeks of aging there were obviously dry bits on the side, and this was expertly butchered away. Next the steak was wrapped in wax paper, and then vacuum packed. For these 400 grams, I paid 550 kroner, which at the current exchange rate equals R550.
It took me two days to find a suitable place to braai the steak. I wanted to do it properly, and I wanted to make a real fire. When you braai a R550 steak, you don’t want to mess it up, so I stuck to the basics: extreme heat and minimal condiments. I put a thin layer of olive oil on the meat to make sure it does not stick to the grill, nothing more. As the steak was quite thick, and exceptionally marbled, I decided to go for four times two minutes, i.e. eight minutes in total, four minutes per side which would give me a perfect medium rare. There were quite a bit of flames in the beginning, but I decided to leave the steak on, and stick to my time schedule. After eight minutes I took it off, and had it rest for 3 minutes before cutting and eating it.
My plan was to keep it simple and eat it with salt, pepper and garlic butter, but I never got past adding salt, it simply did not need anything else. The natural juices of this perfectly dry aged piece of meat, together with the generous fat marbling had more than enough taste all by itself. As I have never eaten meat aged for this long, I feared that the steak might taste a bit strong in the way aged cheese tastes strong, but this was not the case at all, there wasn’t even a hint of that. The steak was soft, juicy, and tasted like exactly what is was, the best steak I have eaten in my life.
- Under normal circumstances I’d braai thinner/less marbled steaks for 3 to 3 and a half minutes per side to get them medium rare.
- I have to stress this again, the steak did not have any hint of “rot” or “aged cheese”, it simply tasted like a great steak.
- Paying R550 for a steak is absurd, this was a once in a lifetime experience for me.