When Flavored Nation, a culinary festival that showcases an iconic food from each of the 50 states in the U.S., chose finger steaks to represent Idaho, they called Chef Lou Aaron of Westside Drive In to show 'em how it's done.
The Westside has been serving up classic drive-in fare since 1957. When Chef Lou took it over in 1994, the finger steaks were not made in-house but were a frozen product. Chef Lou began making them from scratch.
Although Chef Lou created their original recipe, next in line for the finger steak throne is his son, Chef Josh Aaron. As a teenager Josh was a part of the business by force, but now he’s all in by choice.
There is no doubt they are doing it right, given they were voted Best Finger Steak in the Idaho Statesman’s Best of the Treasure Valley contest eight years running. Josh jokes that the newspaper ended up discontinuing the category since the winner was always the same. Further proof that the Westside is known for their finger steaks? Guy Fieri brought his Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, here to get the inside scoop on this uniquely Idaho dish.
If you are ready to put your mad kitchen skills to the test, Chef Lou's recipe will guide you through the process.
• 2 1/2 cups flour, divided
• 4 teaspoons black pepper, divided
• 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, divided
• 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 cups water
• 1 pound beef shoulder tender, cut into 1/2-inch by 3-inch strips
• Vegetable shortening or high-heat oil, for deep frying
1. Combine 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons granulated garlic and seasoning salt. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together remaining flour, pepper, garlic, cornstarch, bouillon powder and baking powder. Slowly pour in water, whisking constantly, and mix until smooth. Stir in food color, if desired.
3. Fill small Dutch oven or wok with shortening to a depth of at least 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until it reads between 350°F to 375°F with candy or deep-fry thermometer.
4. Coat beef strips in reserved seasoned flour, and shake off excess. Dip strips individually in batter, let drip and carefully place into hot oil. If necessary, cook in batches to avoid crowding. Cook for 30 seconds, turn and cook additional 30 seconds. Coating should be crisp and deep golden.
5. Remove finger steaks with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Serve with cocktail sauce (recipe below).
• 1 cup chili sauce
• 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix ingredients well, and refrigerate for up to three days.