IRWIN, another meat question
Irwin, I read with interest your rant about recent meat marketing practices on the general topics board, and you mentioned buying your meat at Asian places. I've seen some of this "ungraded" meat at places like Viet Wah, and Mekong, but had no idea what it meant, so was a little reluctant to try it. Could you explain to me just where this meat comes from, and what "ungraded" means? Thanks in advance.
Tobias: DC, posting covered much of my response. However the advantage in ungraded cuts is often the way that there are chosen. Many times especially with beef, the meats is butchered from what are called ,"Poor Doers". this is healthy, younger beef, sent to the feed lots to fatten on Corn, that don't appear to be gaining weight fast enough. These beef are culled out from the general feedlot population and sent for slaughter.
This product if graded would possable be considered choice, but since the beef is younger then average, carcass weight is lighter, or it may appear leaner by proceers choice they are sold ungraded. This is the best quality generally available ungraded. It's also very often Cow Meat, or Grass Fed, where by paying additional fees for grading, it won't bring a better price in the Market.
My preferance for these cuts is for the Asian Type of Cooking, or primarily moist cooking, such as braising, stewing or pot roasting. The Rib Eyes are terrific for terri Beef, Philly S/W, or Roasting for Roast Prime Rib, for S/W use. The Pork and Poultry just taste better for everything.
re: Irwin Koval
Irwin, I've noticed that Asian and Mexican markets sell different cuts of meat--especially different cuts of pork. They leave the fat cap on which contributes to the flavor immensely. Maybe it's my imagination, but to me the pork from the Mexican grocery stores has far more flavor than meat from the chain supermarkets.
Leper: I agree with you, however you must consider.
The Chinese/Asian methods of Butchering or breaking down the Carcass for Pork, and Beef are very different then the Standards of the USDA, Boxed Cuts.
The Mexican methods are also different, plus you must take under consideration that the majority of Butchers/Meatcutters don't have the experience of capabilities of Journeyman Butchers. Almost all the Asian Meatcutters have gone thru a apprentice training period before progressing to Butcher.
The treatment of Muscle Cuts and External Fat are also different. The Mexicans prefer rough trimming, with external fat being left on the meats, while the Asians prefer the meat cut for specific uses.
I prefer both methods, shopping for the type of products according to convienience or what I intend to cook. Both are better then most Chain Stores Meat departments.
re: Irwin Koval
don't beleive the hype. you get what you pay for. i only sell the top quaity beef while trying to support local ranchers as much as possible. you can see, smell, and taste the difference and not only a lot of the time ungraded meat is shiped out from other countries. and the meat has often been frozen.do a little more research and i think you'll choose the scrape your pennies on things you don't eat
Please help us keep this board focused on chow in the Pacific Northwest, and use the General Topics board (and the thread already started there) to discuss where ungraded meat comes from and what it means.
But by all means, use this board to discuss where to find such meat in the Pacific Northwest.
re: The Chowhound Team
Sorry if my post was not as clear as it should have been; the two Asian markets mentioned, Mekong and Viet Wah, are in Seattle. I'm pretty sure Irwin's familiar with them, and that's the meat I'm curious about, not ungraded meat that is generally available elsewhere.
Sorry for the confusion.
We buy a lot of fresh veg at Mekong Rainier. A lot. Inexpensive and very fresh greens, peppers, mangos, etc etc. Now you can get unwaxed field run Washington apples in bins, new crop, very tasty. The meat though seems a bit dodgy at both Mekong and Viet Wah, it just looks like you are getting the cheapest meat possible and the operation looks skanky. Perhaps that is not the case and it's a good cut like Irwin said. Very interesting!! Thanks for the info!
Tobias & Fritz: I generally buy my Meats at the markets mention only occasionally. Most I buy from Mexican Bodegas especially Lamb and Goat., or more often at "99", in Kent and shortly opening on Aurora/99 North in The former K Mart location in Shoreline/Edmunds or Pal Do Market in Lynwood, and my favorites, "Waynes Market", in Burian or "Lum's Market", east of 12th Avenue on Main Street. To date I haven't found any "Halal Markets", that i'm satisfied with the Butchering or Cutting of Meat. I'm sure that there are others, especially in Tacoma and Lakewood.
I'll generally buy a whole Primal Cut and finish by doing my own butchering. Thet all have a pretty good selection, but buy only what looks real good, as since it's ungraded often varies. Many stores sell "Select", cut of beef, that often as good as the ungraded cuts.
For Pork, both the Mexican and Asian Markets generally are receiving whole Pigs, and butchering, breaking the whole carcass. Almost every Supermarket buys Boxed Pork. The Asian Stores often buy Fresh Pork Butts, and Ribs, the rest are cut from the carcass.
The turn-over in Fresh Poultry in all the Bodega, or Asian Markets is very high, and prices and quality seem more reasonable with better selections. Especially for items like Chicken Wings.
re: The Chowhound Team
I find this topic intriguing about meat grading.
The two stores mentioned Viet Wah and Mekong are Seattle area stores.
Looking at the USDA website, all meat is inspected by federal or state inspectors. Inspection is mandatory.
However, grading (Prime, Choice, Select... etc) are voluntary. Which to me means it's more of a selling point than anything else.
Standard and Commericial grades are often sold as ungraded meat or "store brand" meat. I'm pretty much echoing what the USDA website says.
I don't know if this is the practice at the Asian grocery stores (or other markets) and the implications on "quality", whatever quality means, since all meat is inspected.
I thought Grade refers to the amount of marbling in a cut of meat. Prime having the greatest amount of marbling, so the "lower" the grade, the leaner it will be.
I don't eat enough meat to know the different grades and their pros and cons. I, too, would like to ask the more experienced Irwin (or someone with more knowledge on this subject) a few questions.
1/ Is there an particular reason you buy the ungraded meats from local asian markets? Price? low fat? freshness at those market (high turnover rate)?
2/ Do you know of any grocery stores that sell ungraded beef in the Everett area? Any Latino stores, korean or vietnamese...
3/ How can we tell it's ungraded? ask the butcher?
I'm just curious.