Oh, the end of May! I love it so much. It's like the Thursday night of the whole school year, is how I feel. You're not done yet, but you start to enjoy anticipating being done so profoundly that this moment might be even better than the later doneness itself because the whole summer is still to come, dawning in front of us like a golden orb of promise and lazy mornings and NO SCHOOL LUNCHES TO MAKE and camping and popsicles and oooooh, I can't wait.
|The obligatory May cigar-vase photo. Didn't I just post one, like, yesterday? When the children were still small and peachy?|
We spent Memorial Day with lots of our closest friends, and I am in such a strange state, such a vibrant wabi-sabi mix of excitement and melancholy (What? Me? I know!), that I spent the whole day accusing passing hordes of children of growing up too fast. Luckily, I was not alone in this project. All my friends feel the same way. "Look at him!" we cry. "Look at her!" about each other's long, lanky, hirsute, broad, pimply, gorgeous, mustachioed, breathtaking, bosomy children, even though it's only been, like, two days since we were all together. I cannot take it. I can't. And we've been to three funerals in three months, and that's only the half of it, and every time the wind blows, the dogwood blossoms snowfall to the ground, even though I have waited all year for that tree to bloom. Even though that tree bloomed just a second ago, and a second before that, and it will bloom again in the wink of an eye, the children all another foot taller. What?
What does this have to do with Three-Ingredient Sauce for Steak? Oh, nothing, I guess. Except that steak feels like such a harbinger of summer. Even though I cooked it in a pan, because it was raining and it breaks my heart too much to watch Michael at the grill with an umbrella.
|These are marvelous, wonderful skirt steaks. Oh, they are so, so good. I heat the pan on nearly high heat for TEN MINUTES before salting the bottom heavily with coarse salt and then adding the steaks. TEN MINUTES. This pan. The love of my life.|
But the sauce? I can't describe why it's so good. In the Venn diagram, it would almost entirely overlap with the wasabi-kicked soy sauce you'd dip your sushi in.
|I picked the only easy recipe in the book.|
The mustard--and you really do have to use that fancy Colman's in a yellow tin--makes it crazy, nose-clearingly hot. Not spicy. Hot in the sinus way. And then the soy is there, mellow and salty and rich. And then the rice vinegar comes in all bright and floral. It makes steak sing. And the song it's singing is, "I am so fucking delicious, you are going to die!"
|We are 3. Yes. 3.|
The sauce is also excellent on plain brown rice, on edamame, and on fish, which is what it was invented for. Where I first had it, in fact, was at a restaurant called Roy's that my parents took Michael and me to in Hawaii, oh, 6 or 7 thousand years ago. And what I had it on was, at the time, the single most transformative meal of my entire life: Blackened Ahi with Soy Mustard Sauce and Beurre Blanc. I can hardly write about it still. It made me feel like I'd never actually eaten anything before that tasted good, and like I might never again afterwards. I'm sure it sounds very 1993 now, but wow. I talked about that meal every hour, every day, for years, to the point where my thoughtful brother finally got me the Roy's cookbook, to try to assuage my longing. And guess what I've made from the cookbook? This single 3-ingredient sauce. Not the whole plate of food, with the fancy tuna. Not any of the other recipes, with the slivered papaya or the flying fish roe or whatever. Just this one thing. And it was completely worth it.
|What about me? Nobody even mentioned salt!|
Three-Ingredient Steak Sauce
aka Roy’s Soy-Mustard Sauce
Okay, there are four ingredients, but are you really going to count water?
1/4 cup mustard powder, preferably Colman’s
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons [unseasoned] rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Mix the mustard powder and hot water together in a cup [or small bowl] to form a paste. Let sit for a few minutes “to allow the flavor and heat to develop.” [Wah? I do it anyway.] Add the vinegar and soy sauce, mix together, and “pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.” [I skip the sieve, but I do use a whisk.] Cover and “refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.” [I tend forget this whole 1-hour part, but oh well.]