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Shoyu Steak au Poivre

One of my favorite styles of steak is Steak au Poivre, typically a dish served tableside at finer dining restaurants. Steak au Poivre — pronounced “Stake’ow P’wah” — is a French dish that simply translates as Peppercorn Steak.


Along with the quality cut of beef itself that is traditionally filet mignon, the most crucial element to Steak au Poivre is its incredibly infused and delicious pan sauce, made with Cognac exclusively from said region of France, or its global sibling, Brandy, along with beef stock, onions or shallots, sometimes garlic, give or take other aromatics, heavy cream and butter, while some also add Dijon Mustard. The version I make at home uses all of the above, sans the Dijon Mustard.

Reason I decided to present preparing Steak au Poivre today, is I did a little experiment, using Shoyu instead of Kosher salt to season the steak, which turned out AMAZING!

Signature to this dish, traditionally, Steak au Poivre calls for you to crush whole peppercorns so that it’s very course, however, I ain’t got time for that, and simply use my trusty Kirkland Tellicherry Black Pepper Grinder…

So what I have there is a standard supermarket choice-grade beef ribeye steak that’s been coated/soaked generously on both sides with Kikkoman Shoyu, then sprinkled VERY generously on both sides with fresh cracked black peppercorn. I then placed it in the refrigerator for about an hour or so to let the steak, shoyu and black pepper “get all happy ‘n stuff”. lol

As you should always do before grillin’ a good steak, I then removed it from the refrigerator and let it come to just under room temperature, where it feels just cool to the touch, but not cold. This way your steak will cook properly to medium-rare, not being burnt outside, and raw inside.

Sear the Steak

Then that bad boy hits the VERY HOT pan, with just enough cooking oil to give it the “happy dance”…

As you see, I prefer using a butane tabletop stove for this task, as not only do I get a flamin’ hot pan to sear the steak, but I also have that physical flame itself when I need to light up the Brandy, coming up shortly. Let the steak sear, and leave it alone; don’t move or fiddle with it. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes or so per side for medium-rare. Once you see a nicely browned crust while it still feels as soft as the center of the inside of your hand, flip it…

That’s a great sear, with tasty “crustification” goin’ on. The appearance doesn’t matter that much, as you’ll be covering the steak in that HEAVENLY pan sauce when it’s plated.

Once the steak is done searing and almost finished cooking on both sides, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a warm plate.

What then will be left in the pan are these tasty, crusty, meaty bits and drippings called “fond“…

By all means, don’t get rid of that! The fond is the crucial foundation and starting point of the pan sauce flavor-building process, which begins…. now!

Make the Pan Sauce

Turn off the fire, then To the fond in the pan, add Brandy (or Cognac, up to you)…

At about a full cup’s worth (8 ounces), that’s actually a LOT more Brandy than what most chefs will use, however I LOVE Brandy, so I add plenty! Tee-hee! In fact, the one I’m using today is made by Korbel…

The Love of My Life

Remember I told you to turn off the fire before adding the Brandy, as this liquor has a very high percentage of alcohol that will flame up, which is what you want! Now carefully turn the fire back on and be prepared to step back, as the Brandy will ignite….

Fire! Fire! Fire!  It will continue to flame until the alcohol burns off, which if you add just a small amount of Brandy, like say about 1/3 cup, it will flame out in 3-8 seconds. However I added “around generously” over a cup of Brandy, so it took about 15 seconds to flame out. Fun stuff! Still, be VERY careful when doing this. Some chefs say you don’t really need to flame it to burn off the alcohol, however for tableside presentation, the pan fire is half the charm and dazzle of presenting the dish!

Once the Brandy flames out (awe, boooo!), let her reduce about 1/3 its starting volume where it’s nice ‘n syrupy…

Make sure you scrape the pan with a spatula to release the fond stuck to to the bottom, and stir it into the cooking Brandy. After it’s reduced and syrupy, add minced garlic and onion, or you can use shallot, or in my case, I used red onion…

The reason I add the minced garlic and red onion at this stage, is I don’t want it to burn during while the Brandy is being flamed, I just want them nice ‘n caramelized. Once the garlic and onions are caramelized, and the Brandy has almost completely reduced, add about 1 cup of beef broth…

Cook the beef broth on medium-high heat until it too is reduced to a very concentrated consistency…

At this stage, what you have for your pan sauce is: fond, Brandy that’s been flamed and reduced, caramelized minced garlic and red onion, and beef broth that’s been reduced, where it should look like this….

THIS, my friends, is FLAVORTOWN USA! I could just as well stop here and use this as my steak sauce, however we’re not done yet! Next we add some heavy cream…

Add just enough cream: about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, where after the sauce is stirred, it has a tan color, then stir and incorporate…

Let the cream cook over medium heat just long enough to incorporate all the flavors from the fond, Brandy, aromatics and beef stock, making sure it doesn’t boil, but just bubbles up, while constantly stirring so it doesn’t “break” on you.

Then finish your pan sauce by adding the magic ingrediment, BUTTER!…

Ah yes, butter is that magic trick that gives a great sauce its silky, velvety mouth feel and rich, deep flavor. Stir the cold butter into the hot sauce on very low heat just until fully melted and fully incorporated…

It’s done! Let’s check if it needs salt by tasting it…

And? Perfect! No salt needed. Just right. Dude, I’m tellin’ ya’, this is MO-NEY!!!!!!  Dang is this some awesome sauce! Dang, can this man cook, baby! That’s right, I’m bad @ss. You know it! lol

One more thing before we plate, is put the rested steak back in the pan with the sauce to warm it back up for just a bit…

Make sure to also add any of the juices to the sauce that may have dripped off the steak as it was resting on the warm plate. Give it about a minute or so to warm up, then transfer the steak to the serving plate…

Looks like I cooked someone’s foot. lol

Bon Appetit!

Finally, add that DELICIOUS pan sauce over the steak, making sure it’s fully smothered in all its glory…

Doesn’t that look incredible?! If not, then never mind appearance, let’s dig in and taste it!…

Dude. Oh. My. God. This is SO KILLER! And you know what? That shoyu ROCKED THIS JOINT! I can just ever so slightly taste what it brought to the overall flavor, adding this extra umami “oomph” to it, more so than when I’ve made Steak au Poivre using just Kosher Salt (I actually use ground-up Hawaiian salt). While I honestly can’t say this genuinely tastes like “Shoyu Steak”, just the very fact that it added that extra umami “oomph”, I’m giving it the honors of naming it that. Besides, it just sounds different, local and, well, cool!

Let’s try another bite…

Perfectly done medium-rare. I can just imagine if I had used a prime grade ribeye or Filet Mignon, man would this dish SLAM!

Since I already have the bottle open and handy, let’s try it paired with a glass of Brandy…

It works! The Brandy cuts right into the richness of the sauce and the beef, with its woodsy note complimenting the peppery seasoning. It’s a bit too sweet for the dish, however, I still like the pairing.  “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl). What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl). “Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”. lol

One more bite…

Let me detail the flavor of the sauce: it’s creamy, buttery, beefy, peppery and deep, but not complex; probably more so of the latter being Dijon wasn’t used. It’s not one of those sauces that you wonder what’s in it. Which you shouldn’t have to if it was prepared table side for you. It also has a nice ‘n velvety mouth feel thanks again to the butter, while having sort of a “stick-to-your-ribs” decadence about it, yet not so heavy where you can only handle a little of it. Trust me, you will be scraping the plate clean with Steak au Poivre!

I can’t say this is an easy dish to prepare that you’ll get right the first time. It’s not. You’ll have to practice getting the amount of liquids and reduction point correct, as well as managing the pan’s heat, while of course not burning yourself! And of course cooking the steak properly, which by all accounts should be medium-rare. It took me about four tries before I can say I “aced” Steak au Poivre.

In fact, hire me, and I’ll be happy to come over to your house and prepare it tableside for you and your other half. Trust me, you’ll have a fun night after that, my Steak au Poivre is THAT GOOD! lol!!!

I swear, along with Steak Diane (which is kick @ss, too!), Steak au Poivre is by far THE BEST STEAK that’s paired with a SAUCE you will ever experience. And it really is an “experience” borderline of orgasmic, not just a meal. And my “Shoyu Steak au Poivre” kicks it up a few notches. Try it!

21 thoughts on “Shoyu Steak au Poivre

  • October 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Pomai, bring back memories of cooking that in cooking class. I got an A for it and see it now good. Are you sure that was enough brandy? Too much take longer to tone down. I put enough due to in over take the other seasoning in the cooking. To each his own.

    • October 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Not all memeries were that good for I took some of dad XO and put in different bottle

      like one use in class for me.  No wonder teacher like mine so much.  He He.

      At home dad almost got mad at me but told him I got an A.  For the sake of an A I did


  • October 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Whoa Auntie Marialani!! First time I’ve heard of the steak and brandy pairing…

  • October 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    @ Ryan – I know right? I was skeptical myself, however, since I had the bottle of Brandy open, I figure I try it, and surprisingly, it worked! A little “stiff” and bit more caramel-like sweet than I’d prefer with beef, but she go. Of course, if I were serving this formally with guests, It’d go for a Cab’.

    @ Kelike– Well, as you know, Brandy is the the much more available, typically more affordable version of Cognac, which is made in that specific region of France, and is distilled much longer. I’m not sure if certain restaurants require they use Cognac vs. Brandy when making Steak au Poivre, or whether you’d taste the difference after it gets cooked down and mixed with the sauce.

    Glad to hear you got A for Steak au Poivre in culinary school. I’d give the one I presented here a solid B+. If I used better quality prime grade beef, as well as a better beef stock and REAL heavy cream, guaranteed A.

  • October 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I this recipe at home but I got cognac so will that.  Like this dish for the cream in it

  • October 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    The last time I had Steak au Poivre was at Michel’s at the Colony Surf, Waikiki Beach tableside flamed with Jack Daniels Whiskey in a classic French style and it tasted excellent!!!

    I sometimes crust my prime grade steaks with McCormick’s Montreal Steak blend or my own cracked peppercorns and sea salt with flamed Jack Daniels Whiskey. 
    Classic French style Steak au Poivre by Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Ina Garten and Anthony Bourdain is done with well-marbled steak (original uses filet mignon; now days uses in addition ribeye, NY strip steak or strip steak),  trimmed of all the surrounding fat and cartilage. Cracked peppercorns are accomplished by crushing the peppercorns using the bottom of a heavy skillet (takes about 30 seconds) DO NOT USE GROUND PEPPER CORNS. The classic French recipe uses very good Cognac or Brandy, and modern allows for use of Bourbon Whiskey or very good wine. Shallots, salt, unsalted butter and rich beef broth or strong, dark veal stock round out the classic French recipe. Very, very simple recipe!
    One of the big NO, NOs is DO NOT use a NON-STICK PAN as you CANNOT get it hot enough to properly sear a steak (you are actually steaming the steak at lower temp) creating a crust on steak and create the fond and if you get the pan (low grade not professional grade) too hot the non-stick chemicals leach out into the food you are cooking. Best to use a cast-iron or high grade professional 3-ply stainless-steel or all copper pan (which will take 500 F degrees). Steak au Poivre is all about the natural beefy sauce to enhance the steak.
    Pomai your Shoyu Steak au Poivre is interesting and a nod to Hawaii diversity. Did you soak the red onion first in water to temper the onion bitter bite?
    Of all the TV chefs Alton Brown adds heavy cream to his sauce and Chef Emeril Lagasse adds heavy cream, garlic and Dijon mustard to his Steak au Poivre sauce. Copycat Martha Steward uses heavy cream, Dijon mustard and wine for her Steak au Poivre sauce.
    I am a “where’s the beef” type of guy—keep it simple!!! BTW my tabletop restaurant use professional made in Japan Iwatani single burner butane stove is rated at 14,000 BTU/Hr.

  • October 26, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Pomai, made it and serve with French onion soup and slices French bread and oven

    roasted potatos.  I also made Salad Nicole and and apple tarte tatin.  I have family and

    when I cooked other people in home helped too.

  • October 26, 2014 at 4:25 am

    @ Kassy – You made my recipe for “Shoyu Steak au Poivre”? How did it turn out? Obviously you didn’t burn your house down. lol

    @ Ken – Wow. Never thought Michel’s would use Whiskey over Cognac for Steak au Poivre, being a French restaurant and all. Then again, their Executive Chef is German, so go figure. lol. Cognac and Whiskey do have kinda’ sorta’ similar flavor profiles, so I can see them being interchangeable, at least for cooking purposes.

    McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning is my fave! Can’t eff up a steak with that stuff, that’s for sure! Like my steak au Poivre, try rubbing your steak first with some shoyu, then season with MSS… the best! Easiest way to prepare an AWESOME Prime Rib, as well!

    Regarding the “prim and proper” way of making Steak au Poivre, that’s only if you’re being “high maka maka” about it. I bet if you blind taste tested my Steak au Poivre, using supermarket standard choice grade rib eye, relatively cheap Brandy and canned beef stock, red onion and canned cream vs. one made with Filet Mignon, Cognac, high quality beef stock, real (not canned) heavy cream and shallot, you’d be hard-pressed to determine which one’s better. Why? It DEPENDS who’s preparing it! I can comfortably say, I totally OWN making Steak au Poivre. You give me the ingredients in quality from “Everyday Joe Portfolio” to “Bill Gates”, I will nail it!

    The only reason I used that old, beat-up aluminum non-stick pan, is because it’s smaller (8″ diameter). The only cast iron pan I have is the Lodge 12″ model, which has way too much surface area, and would evaporate the liquids for the sauce too quickly. Trust me, that smaller 8″ aluminum pan held plenty enough heat for the task at hand, as you see by the perfect medium-rare doneness of the steak and excellent results of the pan sauce.

    No I did not soak the red onion in water to temper the bitter bite. Never ever seen that tip on the food network. See, I learn something new every day from who else? Renaissance Man Ken! I shall try that!

    I can tell you’re a “Martha Steward” fan. lol

    My butane stove is a made in Korean model (the “new high quality standard”) rated at 9,925 BTU/hr, which is about 2,000 BTU higher than the usual made in China “entry level” models. It’s PLENTY HOT for searing a great steak!

    • October 26, 2014 at 5:19 am

      No, I been cooking many kind of dishes that flambe and like flambe alot like banana

      foster is one and cherry jubilee .  I have cousins also chefs in restaurants too.

      • October 26, 2014 at 5:27 am


        Oh man, Bananas Foster. My weakness! LOVE IT! That’s it. I’m going out and gettin’ the ingredients to make it, stat!

    • October 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Michel’s has had Prime New York Steak Au Poivre (Encrusted with Black Peppercorns & Flamed with Jack Daniels Whiskey; Served with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & A Bouquet of Market Vegetables) on the menu for a long, long time
      You should pay a visit to Bargreen Ellingson 2234 Hoonee Place, Honolulu HI, 96819, Local: 808.486.9400,  Hours: M-F 7:30am-4:30pm,  Sat 9am-12pm. They are located to the left side rear (use same parking lot) of Home World Furniture, 98-107 Kamehameha Hwy, Aiea, HI 96701.
      Bargreen Ellingson is one of the largest restaurant and commercial kitchen suppliers in Hawaii with warehouse stores on the other islands. They sell retail to walk-ins with discounts. You can all supplies related to a restaurant or a chef’s kitchen to line cook or pastry chef to mixologist/bartender. They have plenty of 7”, 8” and 9” standard restaurant grade fry pans in stock cheap. You can also pick-up a free catalog while you are there. This is where I purchased my Iwatani single burner butane stove.
      The nonstick surface in the pan insulates the meat from the heat causing it to steam and not crust up or create a great fond in the pan. That is why all your pepper came off your steak. Also over heating the non-stick coating trying to sear the steak at high heat causes damage to the coating thus causing chemicals to leach out into your food and into the air. Even DuPont Chemicals recommends not using its nonstick coated pans above medium heat range. Good Housekeeping Nonstick Cooking Safety: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-reviews/cooking-tools/cookware-reviews/nonstick-cookware-safety-facts-3
      More worrisome is the possibility of long-term damage from several of the toxins found in the fumes. Of particular concern is PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), also known as C8, which causes liver, pancreatic, testicular and mammary gland tumors in rats, as well as immune system problems, reproductive problems and birth defects. According to an independent EPA scientific advisory board, PFOA is a likely human carcinogen. It has been found in the blood of more than 90 percent of Americans — and animals around the globe. In terms of persistence in the environment, it is unrivaled. As far as can be determined, PFOA never breaks down.
      Your Korean made 9,925 BTU/hr. butane stove is not putting out maximum heat. What it is doing is filling your kitchen with carbon monoxide which will kill you if the gases from overheating your nonstick pan don’t get you first.  A gas flame should be BLUE in color and when you get orange yellow color your fuel mixture is too high with not enough air.
      Basically you are killing yourself and it would be a shame to lose such a great blog that Tasty Island is.

      • October 26, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        Ken said, “Basically you are killing yourself and it would be a shame to lose such a great blog that Tasty Island is.”. Wow, Lau Lau! Well, when I “go”, at least I know I had a mighty tasty time along the way! Ha ha!

        That said, I take it you’re not very impressed with my Steak au Poivre cooking demo’. Shucks! And I tried so hard! You’re Killin’ me Ken, you’re killin’ me!

        Seriously though, wouldn’t you say that eating beef itself — or any mass produced land-based animal, EVERYONE puts themselves at some sort of dire health risk? Much more so than what it’s prepared on or with. Still, now I’m curious which restaurants that serve tableside preparations use the Iwatani model you hail about. Or are they “skimping” and using models with much less BTU than that? How much did your Iwatani Butane Stove cost? The made in Korea model I have was about $30, which was twice the price of the “entry level” made in China models Don Quijote sells. I’m not a kitchen supplies store kinda’ shopper, however maybe I should be! Which brings to mind, that I want to blog Y. Hata soon. Very cool warehouse “store” they have there by Sand Island!

        As far as filling my kitchen with carbon monoxide, I don’t use my butane stove indoors, but outside on my quite spacious balcony where it’s wide open air. Common’ Ken, give me at least some “non Podagee” credit! Sheesh! lol

        I’m going to take you up on the non-stick pan vs. cast iron and try doing Steak au Poivre again on a cast iron pan, where I will go out and get an 8″ Lodge model to do it with. There’s no way I could pull it off with my 12″ cast iron pan, as which I said, there’s way too much surface area to make the sauce on that. Obviously cast iron will give the steak a much better sear, yet I want to see if it also doesn’t bind the pepper and seasonings off the steak, as it did on the non-stick aluminum pan I used. Regardless of the non-stick pan doing that, that pepper stuck with the fond also had the advantage of helping to flavor the sauce, so there was merit to that, regardless.

        As far as biohazardous chemicals being released at high heat from a teflon frying pan, I think we’re all pretty much doomed at this point from consumer product ingestion and absorption or environmental pollution, whether from cookware, plastic food containers and packaging, to toothpaste, to shaving cream, to gasoline fumes and exhaust… you name it.

        That said, think about how much medical technology has vastly extended the average lifespan of humans today living in a “westernized” society, where where both men and women live to see well beyond their 70th birthday. Compared to 100 years ago, men were lucky to see 50! Of course those numbers are different in asian countries regardless of medical technology, such as Okinawa, where they have the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, thanks in part to genetics and diet. Unfortunately, since Okinawa has since taken on a more western diet, those numbers are declining, yet still admirable.

        I can say one thing for sure: if there’s ever a nuclear war, there’s probably just a few things that will remain from humanity in the aftermath, and one of those will be everyone’s cast iron pans!

        • October 26, 2014 at 9:59 pm

          I am not and never was criticizing your recipe for “Shoyu Steak au Poivre”.
          You seem to be very very touchy when your cooking is compared  to chefs or standard cooking methods. I even gave you a complement; “Pomai your Shoyu Steak au Poivre is interesting and a nod to Hawaii diversity”.
          All you did was get into a buzz fit and sound off on me. My departed wife could go from 0 to 60 in less than 1 second the same way! Couldn’t see the forest through the trees!!!
          I became concerned because you were trying to sear steak at a high temperature with a nonstick coated pan which produces chemical leaching into your food and produces toxic gas plus showing public readers how to do it and your gas stove flame was yellow orange meaning there was a lot of carbon monoxide being produced. I was trying to look out for your welfare.
          Well at least now you tell me you were using outside on your lanai but it still was leaching into your steak and sauce which you ate. Once you get the pan over 500 F degrees and alter the nonstick coating is will continue to leach out every time you use the pan.
          The Japanese Iwatani model cost more than your Korean stove but less than your induction rice cooker (which you raved and raved about) but I don’t use it any more now that I changed to induction stove which is 90% more efficient.  You have to be an owner of a restaurant or a registered restaurant worker with a GET tax number and IRS employer number to become a member of Y. Hata. They will not be open to the general public.
          8” cast iron pan or cheap professional regular line cook 8” pan at Bargreen Ellingson is your choice! Just use a different pan than nonstick for your safety sake. Be careful—-once you are in Bargreen Ellingson it’s like a kitchen candy store and you’ll want everything because the prices are right.
          Hawaii has the cleanest air and smallest carbon footprint in the U.S.A.
          You forget, I spent close to 10 years working in the medical field when I returned from Viet Nam adapting electronics to medical care, baby care, implantable pacemakers and I worked with the medical examiner, all the scientific public health laboratories and I was EPA certified so I’ve seen all the changes from conception, birth, normal healthcare, intensive healthcare, infectious diseases, biohazardous, air pollution, elderly care, death and war (man’s inhumanity to man) the full cycle.  
          There is one other thing that will survive because nothing so far naturally kills it in life; the cockroach!!!

          • October 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm


            Long story short, GREAT OBSERVATION about the yellow flame! The manifold on my stove is going (shot), so I’ll need to replace it, like NOW. Which I will certainly take you up on the Iwatani Butane Stove from Bargreen Ellingson. Should make for a great new blog post! :-)

            And yes, I was admittedly defensive. Gunfunnit, Ken-San! lol

  • October 26, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I had steak diane at Cheesecake Factory it was fine but now I make it at home and

    it also a flambe dish.  It called for brandy in recipes for it.

      • October 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

        I only been there once and that was enough with my date. Just wanted to taste Steak Diane there and I now make it at home with recipe and flambe it. I like it
        for it use brandy in recipe. As for desserts and other things at Cheesecake Factory
        I able to make it at home too like avocado springroll it so easy.

        • October 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm


          I must say, Cheesecake Factory’s signature Cheesecakes are divine. Costco used to sell a Cheesecake Factory “sampler” box, however it wasn’t nearly as good as the one in the restaurant. IIRC, the girl working there said the ones served at each Cheesecake location (including Waikiki) are made fresh in-house, not shipped from a central manufacturing facility. So “props” to that.

  • October 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Wow, guess between eating that sinfully rich steak and preparing it like you did, you are doomed. Shigata ga nai… just living on Earth will kill you… but at least in Hawaii you can go in paradise…

  • October 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    How would I cook off the alcohol in the brandy if I have a glass stove top with a hood above it?

    • October 30, 2014 at 5:51 am

      Just keep cooking the sauce. Alcohol has a higher evaporation point than water, so it will just cook out naturally. The flambe’ is mostly style, in my opinion. When you put wine in a sauce, you don’t flambe’, just cook at a simmer and the alcohol evaporates out. You can flambe’ with distilled spirits like brandy, cognac and whiskey ’cause the alcohol content is high (80 proof or 40%), wine at about 12% is almost impossible to flambe’.


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