Steak is a beef cut that is cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers from various parts of the animal which includes the loin, rib, chuck and round. This way of cutting is believed to keep the meat tender. Even the cooked meat is referred to by this name. Every cuisine, across the world, has its own variations in the cooking of this meat cut and the way it is served. A very popular beef cut in North America and Europe, this meat is usually grilled, roasted, broiled and even pan-fried. Depending on the length of cooking time, based on individual preferences, this cooked meat is referred to by different names, such as rare, medium rare, medium, and well done, etc.
The term steak is believed to have been derived from the Old Norse word “steik”, which means roast. The early Scandinavian settlers, especially during the Viking Age, spoke the Old Norse or North Germanic language, whence beef was a common meat ingredient in their preparations.
Depending on personal preferences and also the section of the animal from where the steak is cut, the cooking time and method varies. The tender portions from the rib and loin tend to cook faster compared to the tougher portions from the round or chuck portions.
Based on the cooking time, steak is referred by different names –
- Raw – This is the uncooked cut, which is used in certain dishes like tiger meat, kitfo, gored gored and steak tartare.
- Seared / Very Rare or Blue Rare – Also referred to as blood rare or bloody as hell, this kind of cooking only sears and cooks the meat cut from outside. The inside of the meat is usually cold and uncooked, hence, still has a deep red hue. This kind of semi-cooked beef cut is referred by various names across Europe – while it is known as “still mooing” in the UK. In the US, it is called “black and blue” and in Germany it is known as “English style or bloody”.
- Rare – This refers to steak that is cooked at a temperature of 52 degrees C, wherein, the outside of the meat is grey-brown and the middle is a bright red and slightly warm to touch.
- Medium Rare – This is the most common way of cooking this meat, at a temperature of 55 degrees C, which results in the center being reddish pink.
- Medium – Cooked at 63 degrees C, the steak is pink in the center and grey-brown on the outside.
- Medium well done – This refers to the steak that is cooked at 68 degrees C and the meat cooks to a nice light pink in the center.
- Well done – In this method, the meat is cooked at a temperature of 73 degrees C, which results in giving the meat a slight charred look and the inside being grey-brown. This is also referred to as “German Style”, in England.
- Overcook – The meat is cooked at almost 90 degrees C which chars the steak and makes it crispy.
- Chicago Style – In this style of cooking, the steak is cooked as per individual liking and then charred quickly. In this method, the inside of the meat can be rare, medium or well done, as desired.
Types of Steak
There are many types of steak that are popular in various cuisines and their serving methods vary –
- Chateaubriand steak
- Chuck steak
- Cube steak
- Filet Mignon
- Flap steak
- Flank steak
- Flat iron steak
- Hanger steak
- Popeseye steak
- Ranch steak
- Rib eye steak / Scotch fillet
- Round steak / Rump steak (Rumsteak)
- Sirloin steak
- Outside skirt steak
- Inside skirt steak
- Strip steal / New York Strip
- T-bone steak / Porterhouse
- Tri-tip steak / Triangle steak
- Salisbury steak
- Tartar Steak
1. Chateaubriand Steak, a steak named after A French diplomat of the 19th Century, is a relatively small-sized steak derived from the central section of the beef tenderloin. This is perhaps one of the most tender beef cuts. It is an approximately four-inch section which owing to its thickness needs to be appropriately cooked. It is served alongside a Bercy sauce containing lime juice, tarragon and perhaps some mushroom. A 4 ounces serving supplies about 180 calories, 70 calories from fat with a cholesterol level of ~ 80 mg. Sodium content is 65 mg. Total carbohydrate content is less than 1 g and protein content is 25.0 g. This steak cut supplies 4 % daily value of calcium and 10 % of iron.
2. Beef Chuck is derived from the anterior section of the cow and is used in stews and slow cooking recipes. The typical beef chuck steak consists of a rectangular cut with segments of the shoulder bones, often known as the ‘7-bone steak’. A serving size of 3 ounces ~ 85 g provides 137 calories with 44 from fat. Total fat content of 4.8 g, saturated fat content of 1.5 g, cholesterol level of 55 mg. Sodium content of 62 mg and a total protein content of 21.9 g; providing 14 % of the daily value of iron.
3. Cube steak is a cut of beef that uses the top round or top sirloin which is subjected to some severe pounding with a special meat mallet or an electronic meat tenderizer and is commonly used for making chicken fried steak. A serving size of 3 ounces ~ 85 g provides 120 calories with 45 from fat. Total fat content of 5 g, saturated fat content of 2 g, cholesterol level of 50 mg. Sodium content of 45 mg and a total protein content of 18 g providing 11 % of the daily value of iron.
4. Filet mignon is small sized boneless steaks cut from the anterior end of the beef tenderloin. In culinary terminology filet describes a very tender, superior quality, boneless meat cut. A serving size of about 6 ounces ~ 168 g provides 348 calories with 145 from fat. Total fat content of 16 g, saturated fat content of 6 g, cholesterol level of 144 mg. Sodium content of 108 mg and a total protein content of 48 g.
5. Flap steak or flap meat is obtained from the underside or bottom sirloin cut of beef and is usually quite thin and hence gets done fairly rapidly. A serving size of 3 ounces ~ 85 g provides 198 calories with 110 from fat. Total fat content of 12.2 g, saturated fat content of 5.1 g, cholesterol level of 49 mg. Sodium content of 80 mg and a total protein content of 20.6 g.
6. Flank steak consists of the belly muscle portion of the cow which contains almost no fat but only muscle as a result of which it toughens on cooking but remains flavourful; this is the cut typically used in the London Broil. It can develop an excellent flavour and texture if grilled fast at high temperature after marinating or braising i.e. cooking in liquid till tender. One steak of 383 g provides 712 calories, 256 from fat, 28 g fat with 12 g saturated fat, and 188mg cholesterol; negligible carbohydrate and 107g of protein. It also supplies 7% of calcium and 37% iron based on daily values.
7. Flat iron steak is obtained from the shoulder of the cow but carries the disadvantage of a very tough segment of connective tissue right in its centre. If this tough part is eliminated, (the appearance is that of a flat iron, hence the name) this cut becomes relatively tender and quite flavourful, more so if marinated and not done beyond ‘medium’. 6 ounces portion ~170 g supplies 378 calories, 198 calories being from fat. Total fat content of 22 g with 8g saturated fat, 142 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, and protein value of 42 g, used in making Red wine and Rosemary flat iron steak.
8. Hanger steak is a flat steak from the thick underside of the cow, and is so named as it hangs in the middle of the rib and loin. It forms part of the diaphragm which if not cooked properly gets tough. The grainy texture of the hanger steak makes it suitable for fajitas or bulgogi or in recipes like balsamic hanger steaks using a marinade. About 4 ounces of this cut provides 174 calories, 72 being from fat. Total fat content is 8 g of which saturated fat is 3g and 39 mg of cholesterol with 60 mg sodium and 24 g protein.
9. Popeseye steak famous after the Popeseye Steak House in London, this cut is also called the rump steak (since it comes from a thin slice of the rump), a 100g of which delivers 125 calories, 22g of protein, 4.1 g of fat.
10. Ranch steak is obtained from the chuck cut or the shoulder region of a cow. Officially classified as the ‘boneless chuck shoulder central cut steak", but commonly referred to as the ranch steak which is cut thinner than an inch, of weight less than 10 ounces and trimmed off excess fat. For best results it should be cooked only to ‘medium’ and tastes best when braised but turns quite flavourful if grilled, broiled or even pan fried too with a prior marination. For instance, a serving (~122 g) of the preparation - Blue Cheese Topped Grilled Ranch steak would provide 150.2 calories, 143 calories from fat. Total fat content of 15.9 g with 3.4 g of saturated fat and 6.3 mg cholesterol, 118 mg of sodium and 1.8 g of protein.
11. Rib eye steak / Scotch fillet is a premium cut of meat, which is tender and juicy and the rib eye steak roast is a traditional favourite especially in a dish such as Beef Rib eye Roast with a gravy of Red Wine. Rib eye steak is got from the outer ribs; is high in fat content remains moist on grilling, roasting or pan searing. A 100 g or 3.5 ounces serving supplies 249 calories, 27 g of protein, 15 g of fat with 5.7 g of saturated fat and 89 mg cholesterol; provides 10 % of the daily value of iron, 32 % of the dv of zinc, is low in sodium but a source of potassium and B-12.
12. Round steak / Rump steak is a very versatile cut of beef obtained from the rump of the cow and hence its name. These may either be the top or bottom cut and when cut generously is called a rump roast. Due to lower fat content, it supplies less calories per portion and is usually a tougher cut of beef than even sirloin. Slight variations in nutritive values exist between the top and bottom round steaks. Top round steak provides 202 calories, 29 g protein, 8.6 g fat, 38 mg sodium, 271 mg potassium.
13. Sirloin steak used in making beef satay and mushroom and steak pie, it is a cut derived from the rear or posterior part of the cow. This also may be divided into the top sirloin, bottom sirloin and sirloin tip roast. This is a fatty beef cut and an 8 ounce serving that weighs ~ 227 g provides 400 calories, with 120 calories from fat, 67 g protein, 26 g of fats, 180 mg of cholesterol and is a good source of B-vitamins, folates, and Vitamin E and K and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, selenium etc.
14. Skirt steak is basically a flat steak also called Philadelphia steak and is the best for grilling if marinated adequately. It is good for making traditional fajitas. It is a long cut from the plate and is accepted more for flavour than tenderness and tastes even better once marinated. A 3 once serving provides about 187 calories, 91.8 from fat; total fat of 10.2 g with 4 g saturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium and 22.2 g protein.
15. Strip steak / New York Strip also called Club steak is high in B-vitamins, minerals like zinc, phosphorus, iron, potassium and of course proteins. A 3 ounce portion provides 224 calories, 14.3 g of fat, with 5.6 g saturated fat, 75 mg of cholesterol and 22.5 of high quality protein, providing all 10 essential amino acids.
16. T-bone steak / Porterhouse are steaks cut from the short loin, with a T-shaped bone having meat on both sides. The larger is the strip steak and smaller–tenderloin steak. While Porterhouse steaks are cut from the back end of the short loin including more tender loin the T-bone steaks are obtained from further ahead and have less of the tenderloin. A 3 ounce serving provides 250 calories, with 160 from fat. A total of 18 g of fat with 7g saturated fat and cholesterol content of 70 mg and protein content of 21 g along with high sodium, iron and B-vitamins.
17. Tri-tip steak / Triangle steak also called a Santa Maria roast is a boneless beef cut obtained from the bottom sirloin. A single 4 ounce tri-tip steak of ~112g supplies about 240 calories, with the fat providing 112 calories; total of 12g of fat of which 4g is saturated fat with minerals such as 400 mg of Potassium, 60 mg of sodium with trace levels of calcium, magnesium and copper.
18. Salisbury steak is a dish made from minced beef blended with certain other ingredients to give the shape of a typical steak, served most often along with a gravy or brown sauce. The Salisbury steak has been quite popular in the US usually served with noodles/mashed potatoes and gravy. The Hamburger and minced cutlet are attained from this form of steak. A 237 g Salisbury steak supplies 250 calories, 10 g of total fat, 4 g of saturated fat, 22g of carbohydrate with 5g sugar and 3g fibre and provides 19 g of protein.
19. Tartar Steak or tartare steak is obtained from thin slices of the high quality meat cut like strip streak after marinating with wine and certain spices. The most common method of serving is with seasonings (pepper and Worcestershire sauce), onions, capers and sometimes a raw egg too.
Steak can be cooked in different ways and the way it is served varies with the region -
- In UK, it is served with French fries, fried tomato and fried mushrooms, accompanied by ketchup and English mustard. At times, even peas, carrots or/and a green salad are served on the side.
- In the US, it is served as a main dish accompanied by either baked or mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or beans. A salad or cooked vegetables, such as corn on the cob, green beans asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion rings and peas, are served on the side with the steak. Shrimp or lobster tail is a popular accompaniment. This kind of combination is referred to as “reef and beef” and “pier and steer”.
- In France and Argentina, it is generally served with French fries (pommes frites). Vegetables and/or green salad are served on the side.
- In Italy, it is served with a green salad.
- In the Balkan region, mustard and pepper rubbed steak is marinated in vinegar and vegetable oil for at least a week and then fried (in butter). This is then served on top of a toast, accompanied by fried egg.
- Steak is best eaten with a special knife that is serrated with a wooden handle.
- Round or sirloin steak that is breaded and then pan-fried/deep-fried is popularly called as “chicken fried” or “country fried steak”.
- Philly steak is the popular shredded rib eye that is served with Italian style rolls and the dish is named after Philadelphia, where it gained popularity.