While standards for imported beef are well above average in Saudi Arabia, there was a time when many Aramcons resorted to draining beef cuts and washing hamburger prior to cooking to make beef palatable.  Back then beef imported from Australia was very bloody, brown in color, and tough.  The appearance, flavor and texture were unappetizing for many expatriates who were familiar with a different standard in consumer beef.  Some gave up beef all together while others tested different treatments for beef and created beef marinades to work around the problem.  Here are two of our favorites:

Beaty Treatment for Beef by Myrna Nicholson, Abqaiq Cookbook - 1973

You will need:

  • Defrosted roast, round steak or etc. (not for ground beef)
  • About 2/3 cup salt
  • Sweet Water
  • Large casserole or pot with cover

If you find the beef rather strong tasting, this treatment will make it mild and much more tender:

  1. Rinse defrosted roast, round steak, etc. (not for ground beef) in sweet water.
  2. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Cut all the fat and connecting tissue of the meat away as the fat holds much of that strong flavor.
  4. Dissolve 1/3 cup salt in sweet water (enough to cover the meat). Soak meat 20 minutes.
  5. Drain meat, rinse in sweet water.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. Place in covered casserole and refrigerate 3-5 days (roast 5 days) draining off blood and rinsing 3 times. This ages the meat and allows all the blood to be drawn out and takes away the strong taste.
  8. Lard roasts with bacon or pork fat if necessary.

Beef Marinade by Axel Green

1 can olive oil
1 ½ t garlic powder
½ bottle soy sauce
1 t pepper
6 drops Tabasco
4 t parsley
¾ olive oil can filled with water
½ t ginger

Blend in blender and marinate steak or roast overnight.

Eventually, imported beef from the United States came to the Aramco camps.  Vicci Thompson remembers the beef truck coming out to Udhailiyah, and having to stand in line to purchase U.S. beef.  Later stores in Dammam and Al Khobar began carrying U.S. beef.  Now beef in Saudi Arabia is superb and meets Islamic Halal standards which means that animals were slaughtered according to Islamic religion requirements.  In order for cattle to be eligible for slaughter for the Saudi market, producers must assure the cattle in question have never in their lives been fed animal protein, animal fats/tallow or animal remains.  Making the grade, Australian beef is among the top beef imports.