Ask A Chef

Do you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask about cooking or a food-related topic? If so, here’s your chance. In this new column “Ask A Chef”, we call upon chef Norberto Valdez Palacios to share his advice on grilling and roasting. If you are wondering why your steak never turns out the way you want it to, and how you can improve on it, read on. As the grill master of the W Bali – Seminyak’s FIRE restaurant, Palacios reveals his tips and tricks to cooking the perfect steak and lamb. 

How can we achieve tender yet well-done beef? 


Let’s start with the type of beef. Normally grain-fed beef will be more tender. I also find it has more flavour. Then choose the cut: fillet or tenderloin steak will give you that tenderness. The tricky part is to have a moist well-done steak. Buy the beef a couple of days before, and let it rest in your fridge. Charcoal or wood fire give a better result when it comes to tenderness in steaks, although you can still achieve it with gas. 
Take the steak out of the fridge one hour before cooking. Make sure that it is at room temperature (about 25°C). Start cooking at a very low temperature if using a grill. Place on the grill and don’t move it until you see juices coming out of the surface. At that moment, add salt and pepper. Flip to the other side and repeat. Move the steak to a corner of the grill (without heat) and let it rest for five minutes (juices will set inside the beef). Check with a thermometer: 70°C to 75°C is a well-done steak. 

What’s the secret to making the perfect lamb?


There are no secrets, although the quality of lamb is very important. There is a big difference between a good quality lamb and a medium quality one. It also depends on the cut. For me, the best is where the whole lamb is slow-cooked over wood fire – it’s the traditional Argentinian way. We prepare a mix of water and salt, then brush it all over the lamb while it is being cooked. This creates crispy skin with a perfect saltiness that keeps the inside moist. It may take a couple of hours depending on the size of the lamb, but it will be magnificent.

What spices will you use to create a Balinese-flavoured steak?


I’ve been trying to use these sweet and sour berries available here called buah buni. Together with Amed Fleur de Sel sea salt, lime juice and some local chillies, we create a marinade that we use while cooking and serving the steak. It is a work in progress – it’s not in our menu yet but I really like it. I might send the recipe when it is finalised!

Is it a must to use a thermometer or can I cut the steak to check the doneness?


Please don’t cut the steak. Get a thermometer, but while you are using it, learn the feel and look of the beef of the doneness you like. With experience, you won’t need the thermometer anymore



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