Now that everyone has decoded the Israeli egg, we can move on to meatier topics…
As I am sure you have seen, Israel beef cuts do not have the same names as they do in our native lands- in fact, they even have numbers.
Many great bloggers have already deciphered them for us- Baroness Tapuzina, Ruth Baks on IsraelFood, and IsraelEasy so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Katherine Martinelli even has a fun post on the trials and tribulations of making brisket for Thanksgiving.
I like this picture the best because it tells me what cut to use for the type of food I want to make:
For me personally, I use katef for ground beef, which drives the butcher up the wall because it has no fat so he says it will have no taste. Since I drain the fat off anyway afterwards, why should I pay for it? Over time he has learned to respect my wishes and allow me to purchase his meat (he is so kind!)
For a barbecue we have decided that that there is no better steak in Israel than sinta (#11)- much better than entrecote (#1). Just realize that numbers 11-18 are from the hind of the cow- Sephardim kept the tradition of nikkur but Ashkenazim did not so their tradition is not to eat the hind end. This, like the tradition of not eating kitniyiot on Pesach and saying only “taf” instead of “saf”, are some of the traditions that are slowly fading (some more slowly than others).
What I really wanted to talk about was the difference between frozen and fresh meat, and the different types of fresh meat.
Beef is imported into Israel mainly from South America. It can come either already kashered (soaked and salted) or not. Non-kashered meat has a sign “בשר לא מוכשר”. Frozen beef can be either golmi- גולמי (raw) or me’ubad- מעובד (processed). Me’ubad meat, although it looks the same as golmi, is not. It has water, salts, and phosphates injected into it. The law states that there can be up to 10% water weight added. Sometimes it can be VERY difficult to find out whether the meat is me’ubad or not. This picture shows how beef should be labeled:
As you could imagine, me’ubad beef should be cheaper than 100% beef.
The other term you might find on frozen beef is meyushan- מיושן (aged):
Meat that is imported to Israel frozen is “wet aged”- placed in a vacuum pack for at least two weeks to allow the meat to become softer. In theory it should garner a higher price. Personally I have not seen a quality difference. More about aged beef to come.
Because of import taxes, fresh beef is not imported into Israel- only frozen. There have been some trials but to date it is unsuccessful. Most cattle that are used for beef in Israel are imported from Australia at a young age and then raised here for approximately 6 months.
Fresh beef in the display case may be either really fresh or may be mufshar- מופשר (defrosted) The defrosted beef was wet aged (aged in a vacuum package) after it was defrosted. The Ministry of Health requires the two types of meat to be separated and for the defrosted beef to be labeled as such- “בשר מיושן מבשר קפוא”. In many advertisements you will see the meat labeled only as “aged”- “מיושן”:
(click on the picture to enlarge)
Kolbotek ran a special showing the difference between defrosted-and then-aged beef and fresh beef. For those whose Hebrew is not sufficient, when you touch fresh beef, it should not spring back. The fat should not be glossy. Fresh aged beef is brownish in color- wet aged is bright red. From a safety standpoint, defrosted beef should not be re-frozen without cooking first. And of course, defrosted/aged beef should command a much lower price than fresh beef. Watch for the demonstration even if the Hebrew is difficult:
To summarize, make sure you understand what you are purchasing, and make sure the price you pay isn’t too good to be true.