A Wagyu beef hanger steak is arguably one of the best cuts of meat you can enjoy. This tender and flavorful cut of beef is perfect for any occasion, be it a family dinner, date night, or a special gathering with friends. But what do you pair it with to take the meal to the next level? In this article, we'll explore some of the best side dishes to complement and enhance the taste of your Wagyu beef hanger steak.

Understanding Wagyu Beef Hanger Steak

Before we delve into the side dishes, it's important to understand the cut of meat that is the star of our meal. The hanger steak is a lesser-known cut of beef that comes from the muscle that suspends the cow's diaphragm. It's known for its tenderness and robust flavor, making it a favorite among meat enthusiasts.

But did you know that hanger steak was once referred to as the "butcher's steak" because butchers would often keep it for themselves instead of selling it to customers? It was considered a "secret" cut of meat that only those in the know could enjoy.

Another interesting fact about hanger steak is that it is sometimes called "onglet" in French cuisine. In fact, it's a staple in French bistros and is often served with a side of frites (French fries).

What Makes Wagyu Beef Special

Wagyu beef is highly prized for its marbling, or the white streaks of fat that run through the meat. This fat content makes the beef highly tender and flavorful, making it a cut above the rest. However, it's essential to choose high-quality Wagyu beef to ensure the best dining experience.

Wagyu beef is not just any beef. It comes from a specific breed of cattle that originated in Japan. The word "Wagyu" actually means "Japanese cow." These cows are raised with utmost care, and their diet is closely monitored to ensure that they produce the marbled beef that is so highly prized.

Fun fact: Did you know that some Wagyu cows are even given beer to drink? It's believed that the beer helps to stimulate their appetite, which in turn leads to better marbling in the meat.

The Unique Flavor Profile of Hanger Steak

Hanger steak is known for its rich, beefy flavor, with notes of nuttiness and sweetness. This unique flavor profile makes it the perfect canvas for a variety of side dishes that can take its taste to new heights, be it classic, unique, or light and fresh.

One classic way to serve hanger steak is with a side of creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms. The earthy flavors of the mushrooms complement the nuttiness of the steak, while the creamy potatoes provide a perfect balance.

If you're feeling adventurous, try serving hanger steak with a side of chimichurri sauce. This Argentinean sauce is made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and oil and provides a bright and fresh contrast to the rich flavors of the steak.

For a lighter option, serve hanger steak with a side of arugula salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette. The peppery arugula provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the steak, while the vinaigrette adds a tangy note.

Whether you choose a classic or unique side dish, one thing is for sure: hanger steak is a versatile and delicious cut of meat that is sure to impress your dinner guests.

Classic Side Dishes for Steak

Nothing beats classic side dishes that have stood the test of time. Here are some ideas:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish for good reason. They're creamy, flavorful, and the ideal base for a rich meat sauce. Adding garlic to the mix adds depth and another layer of flavor that pairs beautifully with hanger steak.

To make the perfect garlic mashed potatoes, start by boiling the potatoes until they're tender. Drain them and add butter, milk, and minced garlic. Mash the potatoes until they're smooth and creamy, and then season with salt and pepper to taste. For an extra kick of flavor, you can also add some grated Parmesan cheese.

Creamed Spinach

Creamed spinach is a timeless steakhouse side dish that's perfect for a Wagyu beef hanger steak. The creamy, savory sauce makes a perfect complement to the beefy flavor of the steak.

To make creamed spinach, start by cooking fresh spinach until it's wilted. Drain the spinach and squeeze out any excess water. In a separate pan, melt butter and add minced garlic. Add flour to create a roux, and then slowly whisk in heavy cream. Cook the mixture until it thickens, and then add the spinach. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is another versatile side dish that pairs well with steak. Grilling it adds a smoky flavor that enhances the taste of the beef, making it a winning combination.

To grill asparagus, start by washing and trimming the ends of the asparagus spears. Toss the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until it's tender and slightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Crispy Onion Rings

Onion rings are a classic side dish that add a crunchy texture and sweet flavor to any steak dinner. To make crispy onion rings, start by slicing a large onion into thick rings. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, and paprika. Dip the onion rings into milk, and then coat them in the flour mixture. Fry the onion rings in hot oil until they're golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts are a healthy and delicious side dish that pairs well with steak. To make roasted Brussels sprouts, start by washing and trimming the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roast them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until they're tender and slightly browned. For an extra kick of flavor, you can also add balsamic vinegar or honey to the mix.

Unique Side Dishes to Complement Wagyu Beef

Wagyu beef is a delicacy that deserves to be paired with the perfect side dish. While traditional sides like mashed potatoes and green beans are always a safe bet, why not try something a little more unique?

If you're a bit more adventurous, consider trying these unique side dishes:

Truffle Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but adding truffle to the mix takes it to a whole new level of sophistication. The earthy umami flavor of truffle complements the nuttiness of hanger steak, making it a match made in heaven.

To make this dish even more special, consider using artisanal pasta and high-quality truffle oil. You can also experiment with different types of cheese, such as Gruyere or Fontina, to find the perfect flavor combination.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze

Roasting root vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and caramelizes their edges, creating a mouthwatering compliment to the beef. Drizzling balsamic glaze adds tangy notes that balance the sweetness of the vegetables.

For this dish, you can use a variety of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting in the oven. Once they're done, drizzle with a homemade balsamic glaze made with balsamic vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard for an extra burst of flavor.

Cauliflower Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Cauliflower steak is a vegetarian-friendly alternative that can hold its own when it comes to flavor. The chimichurri sauce, made with parsley, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar, adds a fresh and zesty kick that contrasts with the earthy flavor of the cauliflower and beef.

To make the cauliflower steak, slice a head of cauliflower into thick slabs and brush with olive oil. Roast in the oven until tender and golden brown. For the chimichurri sauce, blend together parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes for a tangy and herbaceous sauce that will take your meal to the next level.

With these unique side dishes, your Wagyu beef meal will be a memorable culinary experience that will leave your taste buds satisfied and your guests impressed.

Light and Fresh Side Dishes

For a lighter take, try these refreshing side dishes that complement the deliciousness of your Wagyu beef hanger steak:

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

An arugula salad with a tangy lemon vinaigrette dressing is an excellent choice for refreshing the palate between bites of beef. The peppery flavor of arugula pairs well with hanger steak's bold flavor.

Green Beans Almondine

Green beans almondine is a classic French side dish that combines the sweetness of sautéed green beans with the nuttiness of toasted almonds. This side dish adds lightness and a crunch factor to the meal.

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is a simple but effective side dish that makes the most out of fresh and juicy tomatoes. Pairing it with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese gives it a refreshing flavor that complements the beef well.

Final Thoughts

There you have it - a list of excellent side dishes to elevate your Wagyu beef hanger steak experience. Remember to choose high-quality meat, experiment with different flavor combinations, and above all, enjoy the delicious meal you've created.