Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buying Beef in Israel - Guest Post

Sign behind the meat counter at my grocery chain
showing meat cuts by number.
I don't eat much beef and I can't remember the last time I did a cow justice in the kitchen.  To help, I invited professional caterer Rochelle Shalet to share her expertise.  Rochelle runs Tastes of the World catering and produces a free newsletter publication, with interesting and useful information and recipes.  The information and chart below are from a previous Tastes of the World Newsletter.  If this interests you, I strongly recommend you email Rochelle to subscribe to her monthly newsletter.  

Meat may take a long time to cook, but in the winter you have the dual benefit of heating the house and cooking dinner at the same time.  My first meat shopping experience in Israel was quite bewildering. If you have recently made Aliyah or been here for years but never quite got to grips with all the cuts and names, this newsletter aims to provide a guide for when you are next standing at the meat counter.

Kosher dietary law requires meat to be kashered within 72 hours of slaughter, which is not enough time for it to tenderize (a good hanging time for non kosher meat is 2 weeks). As kosher meat tends to be tough, long slow cooking typify Jewish meat recipes such as hamim, cholent and goulash.  
Below, you will find equivalents to beef cuts from home; however each culture cuts its beef differently, so when comparing Israeli cuts to those you are familiar with in your country of origin, expect the equivalents to be approximate. The cut of meat you choose for each dish is partly based on personal preference, hence the saying "one man's meat is another man's poison'. There is nothing wrong with the cheaper cuts of meat; you just have to remember that to get them to taste good they need long, slow cooking in a liquid.

When choosing meat in Israel you need to be aware of the different storing methods. When a meat is listed as מיושן it means that is has been vacuum packed, so it is not exactly the same as fresh meat, but much better than frozen. Frozen meat can be 30 – 45% cheaper than its fresh equivalent, but it is not as tasty and you also have to take into consideration that when the meat defrosts a percentage of its weight will be lost from water. If you see fresh meat on special offer it is acceptable to freeze it at home until you are ready to use it, but make sure that it is well wrapped.

Resting time when searing, grilling, frying and roasting
During these cooking methods meat juices are draw to the surface, resting gives the juices time to go back into the meat so that it is juicy and succulent all the way through. It is better to slightly under cook the meat then double wrap it in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. While resting keep the meat away from open windows and place on a wooden board or newspaper for insulation. Beef cooked using these methods need to be eaten straight away since reheating ruins the succulent taste.

Cooking methods

Slow Cooking in a Liquid - pot roasting, stewing, braising and casseroling
These methods are ideal for tenderizing less expensive, less tender cuts of meat and are convenient ways of cooking as they require very little preparation or attention during cooking. Simply put the meat in the oven or on the hob with the liquid and let it cook while you sit and relax. As it is all cooked in one pot you'll save on washing up too!!
These types of cooking methods benefit from being made the day before you wish to eat the dish and then re-heating, in the same way that soup tastes better the day after you have made it.  
Pot roasting
Pot roasting uses whole joints of meat - boned and rolled joints are ideal for pot roasting. It is traditionally carried out by browning the joint and then cooking in the oven or on the hob with liquid and vegetables.

Stewing, Braising & Casseroling
Stews and casseroles use cubed meat, while braising traditionally uses whole steaks or chops cooked in a small amount of liquid. As with pot roasting the meat is simmered at a low temperature on the hob or in the oven with added liquid.

Pan-frying, or ‘shallow frying’ is a quick cooking method for small, tender cuts using an uncovered pan on the hob. Use a heavy-based frying pan, sauté pan or wok. For best results, use only a small quantity of oil. Ensure that the oil is hot before adding your beef. Sear each side quickly to seal in juices and retain succulence. Only turn your steaks once during cooking; leaving them to cook untouched will produce juicier results.

A fast and dry alternative to pan-frying for cooking tender cuts, using intense radiant heat either above or below the meat. Char-grilling or barbecuing seals the meat juices by forming a crust on the surface of the meat. The meat must be basted with a prepared glaze, oil or reserved marinade mixture. This gives a distinctive flavour to your beef and keeps the meat moist and succulent. Only turn your steaks once during cooking; leaving them to cook untouched will produce juicier results.

This is an ideal quick method of cooking meat as the thin strips cook in only a few minutes. It is only necessary to use a very small amount of oil. Use a vegetable based oil which can be heated to higher temperatures. Use a non-stick wok or large frying pan and always ensure that it is really hot before adding the meat a little at a time - it should sizzle when the pieces are added.  The meat should ideally be trimmed of excess fat and cut into approximately 1cm strips, cut across the grain to help tenderize the meat and prevent shrinkage.

Baking and roasting
This method employs dry cooking in the oven – either in a roasting tin or in a sealed container or cooking bag. For wonderfully tender meat, choose a clay or terracotta ‘brick’ which effectively creates a clay oven within your oven. As the oven heats, steam condenses in the pot, basting the meat in its own juices. The end result is moist, tender, full of flavour and naturally cooked with no extra fat. The calculation for the cooking time for roasting beef is 20 minutes per 450g, plus add on another 20 minutes regardless of the weight.

In recent years, beef has got a lot of bad press. There are many who claim that consuming beef can endanger your health, but of course this claim can be made for anything in excess. It is important to know that there are in fact nutritional benefits to keeping beef in your diet. Beef is an important and useful part of any well-balanced diet, especially lean meat.
Beef has an excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, niacin, vitamin B12, B6, vitamin D and phosphorus.

Suitable cooking method
Good for
Known as
Hebrew name
roasting and grilling
steaks and roast beef
Tender, does not need marinating
entrecote, steak Ayin, vered hatzela
ורד הצלע, סטייק עין, אנטריקוט
slow cooking at low temp
pot roast, cholent
Flavorsome and economical
chuck or blade
rifaan, tzlaot
Slow roast, picked
pot roast, oven roast, soup, goulash & pickled e.g salt/corned beef
Very lean
short plate,
steak roll
brust, chazeh, brisket
slow cooking at low temp
pot roast, cooking in a sauce, goulash, mince
rib or back rib shoulder
Similar to 5 and 6

katef, katef mercazi.
כתף מרכזי כתף
slow cooking at low temp
pot roast, cooking in sauce
cross rib
Similar to 4 and 6
tzli, tzli katef
צלי כתף, צלי
slow cooking at low temp
pot roast and cooking in sauce
Similar to 4 and 5
falshe, fillet medumeh
פילה מדומה, פאלש
slow cooking at low temp
pot roast
chuck cover
mechse hazavah
מכסה הצלע
slow cooking at low temp
goulash, soup, cholent,osso bucco
shrir hazroa, shrir, osso bucco,polo
שריר הזרוע, אוסובוקו, פולו
soup or boiling
cholent, goulash, soup, spare ribs, mince
top rib, cube roll, flank, poitrine, short plate
shpundra, kashtit,
קשתית, שפונדרה
slow cooking at low temp
goulash, soup
roasting and grilling
roast beef and steaks.
tender and expensive
sirloin or porterhouse
sinta, moten
סינתה, מותן
roasting and grilling
steaks and carpaccio
tender and expensive
Fillet, tenderloin, loin
roasting and grilling
schnitzel, steak, skewering, roasting
loin, sirloin
shaitel, kanaf haoketz
שייטל, כנף העוקץ
goulash, pot roast, mince
Similar to 15 and 16
katchke, ozit
pot roast
chuck, round
Similar to 14 and 16
צ'אק, ירכה
steak, schnitzel and roast
round, rump
Similar to 14 and 16
plada, kislayim
פלדה, כסליים
goulash, soup and cholent
poli, shrir achori
פולי, שריר אחורי
pot roast
weisbraten, rosh yarcha
ויסבראטן, ראש ירכה

You can find Taste of The World Hebrew to English charts for herbs and fish by visiting Rochelle's website


  1. Oh, this is great for me - thanks for sharing!

  2. Try this app for an interactive Israeli beef cut map and for an explanation of the Israeli primal cuts in English -

  3. The Cheyenne moves you past just flame broiling and into the universe of moderate smoking and grilling. This Made-In-America smoker with a lifetime burnout ... Bestbuyelectricsmoker 4 Top Electric Smokers Review



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