Steak Secrets are a popular item in the best fine dining menus all over the world.
Its mouthwatering appearance, delicious smell, and savory taste makes steak one of the few food items that can appeal to most of the senses. It can even become a tactile delight – soft and tender when rare or firm when well-done.
Despite looking like a simple dish, extensive knowledge, skill, and experience are required to cook the perfect steak. Because of this, some people are still unable to prepare the perfect steak – no matter how many times they’ve tried.
Want to give it a shot? Here are the four best-kept secrets that could help you serve the best steak for yourself or your restaurant’s customers:
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1. Always begin with a clean grill.
Before everything else, you must make sure you start with a clean grill. A dirty grill will ruin your steak no matter how fresh or high-quality the meat is.
Here’s how you do it:
- Scrape off any residue on the grill grates using a brush.
- After that, run a hand towel dipped in canola oil attached to a pair of tongs along with the grates as you warm it up.
2. Choose the right meat.
Any chef who has succeeded in cooking a decent steak will tell you, “It’s all about the meat.” While this might be an oversimplification, there is a hint of truth in this statement in the sense that the meat cut and grade affect the resulting dish.
There are three cuts you need to learn about when choosing meat for your steak: fillet, sirloin, and ribeye. These three vary not only in price but also in texture and flavor. That said, the key is to let your budget and preferences guide you when choosing a steak cut.
For example, a fillet is milder and more tender than sirloin and ribeye. It also has a lean texture that is best for beginners in steak. However, many professional chefs are not fond of this cut, with American chef Anthony Bourdain calling it “a joke in the industry.” At the end of the day, different diners will choose different cuts.
Many fine dining restaurants and steakhouses offer expensive grades of beef. But what does meat grade entail, exactly?
These “grades” are measured according to two main factors: the maturity or estimated age of the animal upon slaughter and the level of marbling or intramuscular fat.
In the U.S., the most lucrative meat grade is dubbed as the USDA Prime. This accounts for only 2 percent of the country’s total beef production, making it very rare and quite costly.
In some countries, letter and number combinations represent the grade of meat.
Japan has several meat grades above the USDA Prime. This is because of Wagyu beef – the meat with the highest grade because of its extreme marbling levels.
3. Consider buying aged meat.
Besides taking advantage of the freshness of meat, many restaurants also age their beef to achieve a more flavorful steak. It also improves the tenderness of the cut.
Of course, the outcome might still differ from one establishment to the next. The reason behind this lies in how they do it.
A wet-aged beef is a steak stored in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag, ranging from a few days to six weeks. It is more tender than un-aged beef, though its flavor is less robust than its dry-aged counterpart.
Dry aging entails storing large pieces of meat (a.k.a. whole primal cuts) directly from the butchers in a humidity- and temperature-controlled area for about two to three weeks. These are monitored closely until a layer of mold forms on the surface. Once the molds are removed, the meat is sliced accordingly and prepared as a more flavorful steak.
Take note: Aging meat is a process that requires patience and knowledge in the difficult process. Never attempt to do it if you’re uncertain, as any mistake could lead to meat spoilage or even food poisoning.
The good news is that you can source well-aged beef from local meat markets and meat suppliers. If not, you can always go with frozen meat (more on this below).
4. Cook steak from frozen meat.
Whether you’re running a food service business or simply a big fan of steaks, chances are you’ve thought about keeping plenty of meat stored in your freezer. Frozen meat suppliers offer discounts for bulk orders, after all.
But the question is: Can you prepare mouthwatering steaks with frozen meat?
Compared to thawed meat, steak cooked from frozen beef has an inherent chill that prevents overcooking even as the surface is seared in very hot oil.
That said, it is possible to cook beef straight from the freezer and still get an excellent (or even better) steak. Here’s how:
Begin with the correct freezing method.
Compared to defrosted meat, frozen meat yields a better steak. The secret lies in the preparation, which starts with the correct freezing method.
For beautifully cooked frozen steak, make sure that the meat freezes flat on the surface. This will ensure an even searing.
It is also imperative that no ice crystals form on the surface of the meat. This will help prevent a small fire that ignites once ice crystals are exposed to the hot oil.
It is also good to freeze the meat on a flat surface lined with parchment paper overnight. This dries out the exterior of the meat to ensure a beautiful char once cooked.
After that, wrap the meat in plastic before putting it inside a zippered, vacuum-sealed bag to prevent moisture from forming.
Use enough oil.
When cooking the perfect steak, make sure that you use the right amount of oil, around an eighth of an inch on your skillet. Heat this well to counteract the chill of the frozen steak.
Sear the meat for 90 seconds on every side until you get a brown crust. Then, put it on a wire rack on a baking dish (preferably with a rim). Cook in the oven at 135 degrees Celsius for 18 to 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check if it’s medium-rare before serving.
Learn Steak Secrets
Preparing the perfect steak may not be easy, but it’s far from impossible. Learn the steak secrets listed here to prepare a truly mouthwatering steak.