This dish is part of the Valentine’s Day-worthy menu suggestion at the back of the cookbook. I was excited to see that I didn’t have to fire up the barbecue and that it incorporated a variety of tasty mushrooms. I picked up some shiitake and oyster mushrooms and set out to make our pre-Valentine’s Day dinner a week or two early, since we will likely never celebrate a romantic dinner on Feb. 14th again—it’s our son’s birthday the same day—I thought that we may as well enjoy this meal with some friends.
It’s too bad I was falling behind that day. Dinner was behind schedule and when our friends arrived with a hungry four-year old in tow I was wondering how on earth they manage to always have the dinner table set and food served on time when we dine at their place. Oh well, I like to use the excuse that I’m just learning: after all, I’m only 38 years old so I’m new to adulthood and our son is almost two so I’m still pretty new to parenthood. Right? In any case, my husband is good at getting drinks for our guests and quickly assembled snacks for the little ones while I put the steaks in the oven (at least I had the oven pre-heated before they arrived!). I asked them all how they liked their steaks done, as if cooking steaks to order was something I had done before. I wonder if they were fooled.
Thankfully, my friend ‘E’ hung out with me in the kitchen while the husbands and children played in another room. We both noticed a burning smell and when we looked into the oven we saw large bright flames jumping out from the top of the broiler, almost licking the glass of the oven door. Being a flight attendant and thus well-trained in emergency procedures, I immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher, so we’d have it on hand ‘just in case’. The first thought running through my mind was “Well, I guess we’re ordering pizza tonight.” E instinctively turned off the broiler and I removed the steaks from the oven. They were unscathed. Because the oven rack had been placed about 3 inches (8 cm) from the broiler, some fat had hit the element which then ignited. I believe it may have been due to the fact that the baking sheet I was using was a little warped. We returned the steaks to the oven for the last few minutes of cooking. I wish I could say the drama ended there.
We plated the dishes and then sliced the meat, ready for the first taste. When I’m not pregnant, I like my steak quite rare, but with a table full of ‘medium to medium-rare’ eaters, we needed to put the steaks back in the oven. I had relied solely on the timing of broiling the steaks (about 4 minutes per side), but had neglected to check if the beef ‘gives slight resistance when pressed with your finger’, as advised in the recipe. The plates were so bloodied from the rare cuts of beef that my husband actually washed the dishes while the steaks cooked a little longer.
I have to say, though, that I loved my steak. I look forward to the day when—not pregnant—I can eat my steak rare again. The mushroom and hoisin sauce were lovely. I would make the mushroom sauce again just to eat as a side dish. Please don’t let my experience scare you from trying this recipe. I need to learn to exercise a little patience and test the resistance of the meat before I serve it. But I must admit, I can’t help but feel calmed by the presence of a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach.