Sunday, December 12, 2010


December snuck up on me. I feel like I'm not quite over summer. Summer was good to me this year. It seduced me with warm winds and sunshine. It heated me from within. I think I walked around with a little summer glow for weeks after the last 80 degree day, pretending it was just gone for a day or two instead of months.

But there's no denying when December rolls around, the halls are decked and the first snowstorm descends, that summer is really gone. So I've been looking for a recipe that can heat me from within. There are soups and curries and braised meats that do the job nicely of course. But it's not just the heat of a spicy curry that I want. That hits your tongue and burns and titillates but doesn't last. It's a flirtation. I'm looking for a deeper warmth. Like being wrapped in a fleecy robe, the flavor permeates every pore.

What I found last week was unusual and amazing and completely unexpected. It was a steak topped with miso butter, and while you might think that sounds weird or interesting but not particularly warm, let me emphasize the butter part of miso butter. Because butter is warming. Maybe because it adds layers of fat to your body - I won't deny that possibility! But melt some butter over a good steak and it adds such a depth of flavor, especially when mixed with some salty miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar and ginger, that you are warmed from your tongue to your toes.

This recipe from Bon Appetit is for a Coriander Crusted Steak with Miso Butter, but I say you make that miso butter and put it on anything in the vicinity. A nice lean steak is best, otherwise it's too fatty to take the additional fatty topping. A note on buying miso paste - I had to buy a huge bag once as that was the only size I could find but it seems to last forever in the fridge. I've used it for salad dressings quite a bit, and now I'll be using it for miso butter as much as possible.

Miso Butter (Bon Appetit)
Yield: 2 servings

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon red miso paste
1 tabespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake

Mix all ingredients through soy sauce. Cook the steak in a skillet and reserve your skillet. Add miso butter and sake, and boil until slightly thickened and reduced to 1 /4 cup, whisking often, about 1 minute. Spoon over steak.

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