As we get deeper into winter, our minds in the kitchen turn more and more toward the meat of land animals. Specifically beef and pork. Whereas most of the pork that we raise in Guizhou is destined to become ham, sausage, and bacon, the beef we get after slaughter is sent to our test kitchen in the 798 Arts District in Beijing to dry-age anywhere from one week to six months.
Pictured here is the rib, which we regularly serve at Okra. It was hung to dry in a temperature-controlled room for four months. To make it simple, dry-aging concentrates and increases the flavor of certain meats, and even fish, through water evaporation and lactic fermentation. Dry-aged meats are going to have stronger flavors, so if you like the sauce on your steak more than the meat itself, don’t bother. They are also going to be more expensive, given the fact that there is so much weight lost through the evaporation of water, sometimes 70 percent!
We serve our dry-aged rib with vegetables sautéed in dried shrimp and a spicy sausage that we make from western China called mala xiang chang (literally: spicy, numbing sausage) and smoked anchovy salt topped off with fresh grated wasabi, to act as a counter to all that glutamate.
Photo: Courtesy of Max Levy