UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
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Lake Tahoe is a bit of a nightmare during the height of the summer. The lake is a dream but South Lake Tahoe is swarming with slot machine hungry tourists from both sides of the border (California and Nevada).

We stayed at the Marriot and I had no complaints, especially because we stayed in a suite with a full kitchen. We were able to avoid spending $26 on seafood linguine at a restaurant built on the docks because of the kitchen. In fact, the only time we went out for food at South Lake Tahoe during our three-day stay was for lunch at the Brewery at Lake Tahoe which was mediocre at best.

As soon as we arrived into South Lake Tahoe, we surveyed the area for food sources. Sadly, the only grocery store neighboring the Marriot, Embassy Suites, Harrah's and Harveys was a Raley's. We were definitely not in Berkeley anymore.

Our task was to cook a menu involving beef for dinner. Since I purposely did not bring any gadget that connected to the internet, I turned to the local yellow pages. Under "Meat" I found a humble little listing that sent telepathic signals to me-- Overland Meat Co. It also helped that they were located on the only road I recognized, which is also the road that most things in South Lake Tahoe are located on-- Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

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Easy to spot on the main road by a sign which reads "Free Range Meats," Overland Meat Co. is nestled in a plaza called Kings Trading Post.

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Upon entering, I knew I came to right place.

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We wanted to make Gyu no Tataki (recipe below), so our beef was going to be rare. I asked the guy behind my counter which one I should use. He recommended the top sirloin.

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What impressed me was that this guy was just a kid, but he was knowledgeable and eager to tell me where their meats came from (Oregon Country Beef, a cooperative of family ranches scattered across Oregon).

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They also had an impressive case which included all the necessary foodstuffs necessary for a killer temaki party!

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It was also great to see that they are not fans of waste and sell hunks of bones for dogs.

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And the mark of a killer meat market is their own brands of sauces for marinading and slathering meats.

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This is a tiny store but packed with a lot of product and knowledge.

Oh yeah, and a bunch of wine.

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Upon leaving the store, a local who was sitting on a stump doing pretty much nothing (but maybe shining his harmonica), told me that "This is the best place in Tahoe. It's a small business that's been around for years." That's when I thought to myself I need to use the yellow pages more often.

We went home with two juicy top sirloin steaks, wasabi-horseradish and a bottle of wine.

My husband was in charge of cooking the meat. On the menu was Gyu no Tataki, which is usually made with wagyū. The top sirloin is a perfect substitute for us in the states who have access to delicious domestic grass-fed beef.

Gyu no Tataki

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Ingredients (feeds four):
2 big slabs of top sirloin steak
2 tbsp of salad oil
Pepper

Marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sake (or white wine)
1 clove grated garlic

1. Rub the steaks with pepper and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

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2. In a large pot bring the soy sauce and sake to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat and add the grated garlic.

3. In a frying pan, heat the oil and sear the steaks. Searing time depends on the thickness of the steak, but for our top sirloin (which was about 1.5 inches thick) my husband seared it for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Another sign of when to stop is when you start really smelling the aroma of the meat.

4. Once the steaks have been seared, place them into that pot you have ready with the soy sauce marinade. Cover the pot and place the whole thing into the fridge. Turn the steaks over every 10 minutes or so.

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5. After one hour of chilling and turning the steak over every 10 minutes, cut the steaks into thin slices.

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This was excellent as-is, but a dab of wasabi or horseradish livens up the flavor as well.

Since this recipe is SO simple, a good piece of meat is the key factor in making this dish a success.

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I'd like to thank Oregon cows, the Overland Meat Co. and my husband for an unforgettable meal.

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Column: Japanify
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4 comments

  • So jealous! I’m totally drooling too (at 3:30am) and I could spend an hour in this store! You didn’t try the Dawgonnit! cafe and bakery?

    emi on

  • SALIVA ALL UP IN MY MOUTH.

    kayoko on

  • Back in Tokyo! Working in the kitchen at a restaurant in Roppongi Midtown— Union Square Tokyo, sister restaurant to Union Square Cafe in NYC. Love it! tho quite physically taxing… How’s Berkeley? Jealous!!

    emi on

  • Emi!!! Where are you now? 3:30 means you are back in Tokyo?

    yoko on

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