Our readers may know that we cook beef steak quite often. On one hand it’s delicious and on the other hand cooking a steak is quite a festive thing to us. It’s a good mean for us to celebrate happiness around us.
In this article we want to summarize our experience of cooking steak. There will be 2 parts: selection of beef steak and cooking a beef steak. Hope this can be an easy reference for those who are going to cook a steak for your loved one(s)! We will go through the below sections:
- Selection of Steaks
- Cooking a Steak
煎牛扒整合 Searing a Steak
You can’t be wrong cooking a steak for festive celebration with your partner. It’s always worthwhile take some time to explore the techniques of cooking a steak!
Cooking a steak isn’t difficult. Yet from the selection of steak type and cut to the method of cooking, tool to use and duration, there are numerous factors that can affect the flavour and texture of a steak. In this article we would like to share the ways of steak cooking we have tried before!
Follow the steps everyone can cook a steak nicely!
選擇牛扒－等級 Grades of Steaks
係香港好容易就買到世界各地既牛扒，簡易起見，先講講美國既牛扒分級標準。美國農業部用左牛扒既油花分佈同牛齡黎將牛分成8個等級：Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter同Canner。係香港超市會見得到既多數係頭3個等級。
In Hong Kong it’s easy to buy steaks from all over the globe. Let’s begin with the grading of steaks in USA. The US Department of Agriculture divides steak into 8 grades primarily by marbling (amount of fat streaking within the cut of meat) and age: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. In Hong Kong the top 3 grades can be commonly found in supermarkets.
If you are to buy a steak for celebration, we would recommend buying a Prime one as the distribution of marbling really affects the flavour quite a lot. From our experience, there is substantial difference in the flavour of beef between a Prime and a Choice steak.
To differentiate steaks by marbling is actually very reasonable. The cooked fat within the steak would melt a little and form a unique and savory flavour. The melted fat also stay on our tongue briefly by forming a layer. This is the reason why we can enjoy the rich after taste of the steak. In addition, the melted fat also gives us the feeling of juiciness. In short, a steak with more marbling in general provides better tasting experience to us so it’s reasonable to group it in high ranking.
The US grading system can be further divided into sub-grades by the marbling of a steak. There are also Australian and Japanese grading system as shown above.
Speaking of steak, we as huge fans of Korean culture have to mention Korean beef. It’s fantastic to order a nice chuck of Korean beef in a Korean BBQ restaurant. They serve the beef with bean sauce, sesame leaves and number side dishes together with soju.. Korean beef used to be supplying to domestic market only but in recent years it’s available in Hong Kong. However, to try the authentic experience we have to go to Korea.
選擇牛扒－部位 Cuts of Steaks
There are numerous cuts of steaks. Let us share some common cuts here.
Normally what we can buy from a supermarket is loin or rib.
Sirloin is obviously a very famous cut. It’s the part of loin adjacent to the round. In terms of price it’s normally cheaper than tenderloin and ribeye. Compared to ribeye, sirloin has less marbling and the texture is more chewy.
Ribeye is another famous cut of steak. It comes from the rib area and it has more marbling so stronger “flavour of beef”. The texture is tenderer then sirloin.
If there’s no consideration of price, we normally go for ribeye as it’s tender and rich in flavour.
選擇牛扒－厚度 Thickness of Steaks
Basically we like the steak as thick as it can but of coarse in a supermarket we have no say about the thickness…
The reason of choosing a thick chuck of steak is that in steak cooking we want the steak crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside. If the steak is thin, it will be overcooked fairly quickly. Of course for a thick chuck of steak, chance is like the middle part cannot be cooked at all. However, this problem can be resolved by slow cooking the steak. We like using slow cooking to make our steak. We will share more below.
In a butcher house we can order as thick as we like. It’s a fun purchasing experience of steak.
In the photo we bought a 21 days dry aged ribeye. Dry aged beef has way richer flavour and it’s a fun area to explore. For the cooking experience of this steak you may refer to our previous article
Normally we want our steak to be at least 2.5cm thick, that is the thickness of a HK$5 coin. Slow cooking works well for this thickness. Of course it’s better to have it even thicker
煎牛扒－直接鍋煎 Direct Pan Searing Steak
The laziest way to cook a steak is of course pan fry it after unfreezing it.
We mentioned the way of doing that in our previous article. Basically we sear each side for 2 mins and then cook it with butter for 1 more mins. We now share 5 more techniques for cooking a steak.
煎牛扒技巧 Techniques of Searing a Steak
First the steak must have been unfrozen to room temperature. As the time for cooking a steak is brief, if it’s not fully unfrozen chance is like the core is still cold while the outside has overcooked.
Second, wipe dry the steak before searing it. Otherwise the steak will be boiled to done instead of seared to done. This will affect both the flavour and the coloring of the steak.
Third, if we want the steak to look darker, we can add a tbsp of butter. Heated button will form a dark crust on the surface of the steak and the steak will also taste slightly bitter. Not everyone likes that flavour but we happen to like it.
Fourth, rest the cooked steak before cutting it. Right after searing the outer part of the steak is relatively dry. During resting the outer part can reabsorb the juice and make itself more succulent. also, during resting the temperature decreases and this allow some of the juice to become stickier so this can reduce loss of juice while cutting the steak apart.
Fifth, after resting and before serving, reboil the liquid in the pan and then pour it onto the steak. This can give a crispier texture to the beef steak.
煮牛扒－慢煮 Sous Vide Steak
If time is allowed, we prefer cooking our steak by sous vide especially when we are cooking a pricey steak. If we just sear it right after unfreezing, the searing time is longer so it’s harder to cook the steak precisely. On the other hand, with sous vide we can just set a designated temperature and reach the doneness we desire no matter how thick the steak is. After that we just quickly heat the surface of the steak to give it a nice crust while keeping the inside tender and succulent.
We have previously shared how we sous vide steak. To put it simple, we just marinate the steak, put it in a zipper bag, set the slow cooker to a certain temperature until it reaches our desire doneness. Finally, sear or grill the surface and it’s done.
Below we are sharing the 3 aspects of sous vide that we need to pay attention to.
We like to set the temperature at 51-53 degree Celsius. That will give us a rare steak. We do not prefer temperature higher than that because on one hand we like our steak rare and on the other hand more juice will be lost if we apply temperature higher than this which deteriorates the texture of the steak.
As the doneness of the steak is determined by the highest temperature we set, if we don’t set it higher than 53 degree, it will still be a rare steak. This is what traditional way of cooking a steak cannot compare.
An easy reference for temperature vs doneness. We like setting at 51-53 degree Celsius
So far we mentioned that if we set the steak at 53 degree Celsius our steak won’t exceed the doneness of rare. Does that mean the steak will be the same if we slow cook it for 1 hour or 24 hours? Not really.
Normally for sous vide, 1 hour is sufficient. The steak will be tender and chewy. If you like it softer, you can slow cook it for 2 hours.
How about longer hours of slow cooking? Enzymes in the meat will continue to decompose the connective tissue and make the meat softer and softer to a point that it can be shredded apart easier which is not a pleasant texture we want.
慢煮牛扒－煎或燒 Searing or Grilling
After sous vide we can make the steak surface crispy and that can either be done by searing or grilling.
If we are to sear, switch on high heat and add oil to preheat the grille pan until smoke emerges. Then we can put our steak on it, flip it every 30s. Sear each side for 1 mins and then the edges.
To make it taste better, the second to fifth techniques we mentioned above in the direct searing section can also be applied.
We like using grill pan with ridges. The ridges make it easier for the water in the bottom of the steak to evaporate away and that helps make the steak crispier and better colored. Also grid marks on the steak looks way better.
We like our Skeppshult grill pan very much. Apart from the ridge design, it also applies thick layer of cast iron to cast the pan. We mentioned above that we need to preheat the pan before cooking our steak. If we have a thicker grill pan, we can make sure the temperature won’t drop as much when we put our steak on the pan. That can help searing the steak with stable high heat. Also, the thickness also provides evenness of heating and that’s exactly what we want when searing a nice chuck of steak.
Additionally, the Skeppshult grill pan is hand crafted in Sweden and it’s with beautiful walnut handle. We are just irresistible to it!
Looking for a grill pan? Now the Skepphult grill pan 25cm is available in our store. Check it out!
Grilling a steak is even easier. What we want is to make the surface crispy by flame.
Having a sous vide steak in a BBQ meal is a good idea as it’s not going to fail and it’s delicious
It looks dry
But actually the inside is still tender and juicy. Using charcoal fire can add some nice charcoal flavour to the steak too
Not being able to set up charcoal fire at home? Using a blowtorch can also do the job!
Of course we can also use blowtorch to cook our steak outdoor
Our unboxing article for Skepphult grill pan
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