We didn’t want to go out and go through the hassles of traffic, parking and wheelchair access issues. Staying at home was also more comfortable for everyone – there’s no need to bongga dress up for dinner, and we can relax because there are no strangers to be mindful of. We could talk as loud as we wanted (not that I encourage that, but some relatives just can’t be helped), and just be ourselves.
Ever since I had dinner at one of those Korean grill barbecue restaurants, I dreamed of replicating the same thing at home. I was so glad that my dad bought one of those induction cooker stoves a couple of years ago. I ignored the induction cooker for the first year we had it because I didn’t know what to do with it, but last year, I was determined to replicate the table-top cooking that I experienced at the Korean BBQ grill place because it was so much fun and interactive!
Obviously, drilling a hole in our dining table was not an option. Then I remembered the induction cooker, still in the box, ignored in the corner. So I googled how to use it.
How to Use an Induction Cooker
The most important thing you need to remember is that you need an induction-capable pot or pan to use with your induction cooker. That’s it. Ordinary pots & pans won’t work unless they’re old school cast iron.
The induction cooker also only heats the pan ONLY when the pan bottom is touching the induction cooker. If you lift the pan even a little, the induction cooker will stop heating and give you an error message. That’s just how induction works – the bottom of the pan and the induction plate must be touching.
I bought a non-stick induction grill pan. There were very few choices at the time, I’m sure there are more choices available now.
How can you tell if a pot or pan is induction-capable?
For grill pans, make sure that the pan is made of heavy, thick metal – this makes the heat distribute more evenly. The better your grill pan is, the better it should be at heating not just the center of the pan, but also the sides, especially if it’s a rectangular pan. You really want to avoid a pan that has a hot spot at the center and then the edges of the pan are cold.
I put the induction cooker in the middle of the table, and plugged it into an extension cord. The electrical cords of induction cookers tend to be short and would not be able to reach any electrical outlet. The grill pan is put on top of the induction cooker.
I also distributed wooden chopsticks – since our grill pan is non-stick, no metal utensils are allowed. I’m so glad I saved all those unused disposable wooden chopsticks we get from takeouts! I finally found a way to use them up!
Make kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, or your preferred steak rubs easily accessible near the grill.
What to Cook?
We bought this frozen Angus Ribeye Steak from S&R. It’s pricey and we don’t usually buy such expensive meat (P1,700 a kilo!), but we make exceptions for special occasions. If you’re buying steak, look for good marbling. This means look for red meat that as a lot of little white fat veins running along everywhere. More marbling = more tender steak.
I thawed it in the refrigerator for one day. Make sure it’s completely thawed before grilling.
I know we’re not supposed to cut up steak like this, but having them cut this size just makes it easier to cook all the way through. Also, not everyone can eat a whole big slice of steak. This size is just perfect for us. There’s enough to go around, and people who only want a small piece of steak can have one piece, and people who want more steak can have more pieces. Instead of cooking one big piece of steak medium rare, people can cook their piece of steak to however level of done-ness they prefer.
I also sliced some onions. We didn’t have any other veggies this time, but you can also slice some green bell peppers, mushrooms, sweet Japanese corn, etc…
Once everyone was at the table and ready to eat dinner, I turned on the induction cooker and put in on BBQ setting on the lowest heat possible. This is very important! I made the mistake of using a higher heat setting on a previous steak experiment and the meat ended up quite tough! Sayang yung steak.
Once the grill pan was hot, I sprinkled some kosher salt in the middle where it was hottest, and started putting in some steak strips! The meat started to slowly sizzle, the marbled fat in the steak started melting. Smelled sooooo delicious! After about 5-10 seconds, I turned my steaks to the side to cook, ground some black pepper on top, and then turned it again to cook the other side, until all the sides are cooked, but taking care not to overcook it! Sprinkle a little more salt to taste.
The result is very tender, very succulent, hot-off-the-grill steak. Eating our steak hot off the grill, smelling caramelized bits and hearing the sizzling – oh, it just makes it so much more delicious.
Err on the side of undercooking — you can always put the steak back to cook it some more, but you can’t undo overcooking.
After everyone dug in and cooked some of their steak, we put the vegetables in the grill pan to soak up the steak fat! If there’s not enough oil in the pan, feel free to add some olive oil, but there’s usually no need. The remaining salt & pepper should be enough to season the veggies, but you can season it a bit more if you want.
These are always memorable meals – aside from the good food, the bonding with family that results from actually sharing and interacting and cooking together at the table is priceless.
About the Salt
Please find some really good salt for your steak. The iodized crap will just ruin your steak with its bitter, iodine, hospital-smelling taste. You can get your iodine from somewhere else – like saltwater fish, bangus, tuna, dilis, squid, bagoong, shrimp and seaweed, etc… which are abundantly available in our country.
Kosher salt is actually not that expensive. But unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find in the Philippines. A big 3-pound box of kosher salt is only around $2 – that’s around P90 for about 1.36 kilos. One box of kosher salt lasts me for at least 3 years! If you know someone flying back to the Philippines from the US, you can ask them to buy a box of kosher salt for you. Make sure to ask them to buy the Fine kosher salt, not the Coarse kosher salt, and to wrap them in cling wrap or something – the boxes tend to leak salt especially when being thrown around in baggage handling. If all they could find was coarse kosher salt, don’t fret, just put it through the food processor to get fine kosher salt.
If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use real sea salt, like this. The salt is actually very white, the picture just can’t capture it accurately.
This is what we use for our regular cooking salt. I ask friends from Pangasinan to bring some back for me whenever they go back home. These are very white, all-natural, galing sa dagat, honest-to-goodness sea salt, only P45 per kilo.
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