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The Touch Test

June 18, 2010

While watching the original Iron Chef on the Cooking Channel last night, a marvelous tidbit of culinary information was revealed.  The secret ingredient of the episode was beef, and as with all the Japanese Iron Chef shows, once the ingredient is revealed they cut to a pre-recorded segment describing the product, some history about it, and cooking tips.  It’s all done with dramatic narration and is one of the great charming and silly parts of the show.  But the info from last night was very interesting, regarding how to tell how cooked beef is by simply touching it.  I have heard Mario Batali’s take on this as such:  medium-rare feels like the soft part of your palm below the thumb, and medium is like right in the middle of your palm.  But Iron Chef offered a more detailed description: cheek, ear lobe, nostril, nose.  Say it with me.  Or not.  So rare feels like your cheek, medium-rare feels like your ear lobe, medium feels like when you push on the side of your nostril, and well done is the tip of your nose.  I know you just touched all of those spots on your face – don’t be ashamed, I did it several times last night and just now again as I write this.  So the next time you’re grilling up some steaks, no need to cut them open to check their doneness.  And just assure your friends that you are not giving the sign to bunt, you’re just cheking to see if their steak is medium-rare yet.  Enjoy!

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