Monday, June 30, 2008

Howto: Argentinean BBQ == Asado

One of the things I miss the most from home is the food. Being from Argentina, that means beef in particular. Argentina is known for their meat, not only because of its quality, but because of the quantity. We eat almost every other weekend an average of 1.1 lb of meat per person in a feast called Asado.

Asado is nothing more than glorified BBQ that you share with friends and family, where multiple different types of 'cuts' are served. The most famous cuts are asado de tira (or costilas), bife de chorizo, vacio, matambre, entraña. The food is prepared using coal (or preferably wood coal) to give the meat a better taste. We also marinate the food with an assortment of things and serve it together with empanadas and salads, but the main event is the meat.

While trying to make an Asado I was faced with the problem of getting those cuts (and the price of course). After almost 2 years here, I have found the way to get them and just wanted to share the knowledge. Like in Argentina, the secret is to know a butcher. Any butcher can do, even those you find in your local convenience store. I'm in Seattle, so I go to my local Safeway ask specifically for the following:

  • Asado de tira: ask for ribs, flaken style, 2 inch wide and as much meat on top as possible.
  • Entraña: ask for skirt, and tell him to leave the fat that comes on top.
  • Matambre: rolled flank stake. This is very easy to get at any grocery store, although in the US they remove most of the fat. You can ask them to keep it.
  • Vacio: flank stake, although not quite. This is hard to get right as well. It is flank stake together with sirloin, so it is hard to ask.
  • Bife de Chorizo: I found this hard to get. You should ask for New York style Strip steak.

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