Vac Bif is in fact not an exotic stir-fry.
It was a new fad in the shops a while ago: Brazilian beef, usually the better cuts, packed in vacuum. They are advertised as good, in various ways: it is good to buy excellent cuts of beef for a nice prize. It is good to eat beef that has been ripening, safely sealed, during a lengthy boat journey. The boat journey of all those many bits of cow guarantees that fuel costs per unit are low, so this beef is actually good for the environment, at least less no-good than other beef.
The website of the vacbeef – company, as I will call them here, does not tell anything about the amount of rain forest that probably needs to be cut down to accommodate all the vac-beef candidates in their pre-vac days. But this is an aside, because when I brought my first vac-pack home, I hadn’t thought about all this. I was interested in taste and toughness.
There is a warning on the package: upon opening, you will perceive a somewhat sour aroma which, however, dissipates after a few minutes. This is an effect of the ripening process, and perfectly normal. I dislike sour aromas. I opened the package (with a hiss: the seal was tight) near the sink, kitchen fan on high. I waited a few minutes and then a few more minutes. I then rinsed the whole chunk under cold water, because the smell – well.
I cut a few nice slices, heated some butter in a skillet and fried them. They fried marvellously: the browning was perfect and the meat didn’t start to boil in its own juice. I added black pepper, rosemary and salt. I cut a bite off the test vacbeef – it seemed to be quite tender. I tried. It was in fact really tender, absolutely marvellous.
The taste can be described as stuck midway between cow-pie and soup meat cooked for about fifteen minutes, with an additional whiff of wrapping plastic.