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
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.