Last week I got to meet Scott Heimendinger, creator of the Sansaire, the first circulator I ever owned. It was definitely a semi-star-struck kind of encounter for me, since, little did he know, he introduced me to pretty much everything I’m focusing my life on right now. Sadly, no group selfies were taken. But he did gift me with a preview of his recent releases – the Sansaire Searing Kit and Steak Aging Sauce. I couldn’t wait to test them out! I started with the sauce.
Inspired by a Modernist Cuisine article about adding fish sauce to add extra umami, this blend of flavors claims to “give any steak the flavor of dry aging.” Now, I’ve had some good dry-aged steak in my time, and nothing beats it. So I was super skeptical that adding 1 tablespoon or less of a sauce to a steak just as it goes in to cook could have that much impact. But he’s dropping beats like “naturally occurring molecule responsible for umami” and “glutamic acid,” so, OK. I’m game to try.
- It smells right awful. Don’t let that put you off.
- It contains MSG. Don’t let that put you off.
The smell is fish sauce, and maybe you find it appealing. I don’t use fish sauce enough to have fully embraced the distinctive aroma yet, but I do use it enough to know the end taste is worth it. The MSG… well, MSG is an umami engine. And this is a very small dose, so don’t be afraid.
To test, I started with one cheap steak. I mean, it’s easy to make a fancy, grass-fed, sake-massaged, lullaby-serenaded cow into delicious meat. But what can this do for my off-the-shelf Trader Joe’s sirloin cut? I didn’t want to skew the results with two different steaks, since who knows when they were cut, or if they’re from the same animal, or the same part of the cut, etc. So one steak, cut in half, bagged separately. One control, one with sauce.
I cooked the 1” steaks with my Sansaire circulator at 134F (57C) for 1 hour. Then I unbagged, dried, and seared in butter on a hot cast iron skillet. Already the difference in texture was notable. The sauced steak had a visibly looser fiber. The color between the two was the same. But the taste. . . oh, the taste. That’s where we’re miles apart.
OK, I’m not a massive fan of a cheap steak. It’s fine. It’s not nice, it’s fine. But the Steak Aging Sauce really did make it delicious. I wouldn’t compare it to a 40-day dry-aged anything from choice cut Alexander’s, but yes, it greatly improved this $9 steak.
First, there was a massive difference in flavor. Read: the marinated steak HAD FLAVOR. The texture of the steak was more tender. Everything about it was just better. The other, untreated half was just. . . bleh.
So let’s cut to the chase. Is this bottle of sauce worth $25? Well, one teaspoon turned my $9 6-ounce steak into a cut that tasted more like $20. You do the math.
OK! I’ll do it for you! um… 1 tablespoon : 1 pound of steak,; one 8 oz (16 tablespoon) bottle : 16 lbs (256 oz) of steak. My 6 ounce steak cost $9 but tasted like a $20 steak (empirical measurement). One bottle could treat 42.67 of my steaks, which would cost me $384, but taste like $853, so essentially this $25 sauce ups my game by $469.
Pretty sure I did that right.
So if you’re looking to turn up your steak game, and you don’t have access to special humidity-controlled rooms to dry-age your beef for a month or more, give the Steak Aging Sauce a try. And if you’re looking for a great sous vide steak recipe, learn how to cook the perfect steak here!