Cooking steak perfectly is an art form and as a South African I would like to think that I have mastered the art of cooking the perfect steak. However, Asia has drastically limited me in terms of what is available both in terms of my budget and the quality I want.
I recently organised a braai (South African style BBQ) for my husband’s birthday. I bought the steak from one of the higher end retailers in Hong Kong due to convenience- huge missed steak (excuse the pun!). Not only did the meat lack flavour but the cut was butchered completely wrong to my utter frustration. I tried to remedy situation as best possible with marinades and clever cutting techniques but alas I could do very little to save the situation. This made me reconsider my steak buying options in Hong Kong and also made me think about what the best way is to prepare steak. I have come up with the following four tips to make sure I dont’t make the same mistake again:
1. Choose the right cut
In general all good steaks come from the top half of the carcass. The rib, short loin and sirloin muscles experience less movement and therefor have less connective tissue meaning that the meat is generally more tender and more marbled. Each cut has it’s own properties, personally I prefer rump, tenderloin and recently rib-eye. For this article I chose bone-in rib eye. This cut is exceptional in terms of both marbling and flavour. When choosing rib eye there should be large pockets of fat dispersed throughout the meat. The center of the steak or the eye should have a finer grain while the outer part should be looser in texture and also more fatty. This fattiness together with the marbling makes for a very juicy flavourful cut.
2. Know your butcher
I cannot stress enough how important the skill of the butcher is with regards to the perfect steak. Meat has to be cut against the grain to shorten the muscle fibers, if meat is cut with the grain the muscle fibers are long and this results in tough meat. Talk yo your supplier about exactly what you need- how thick you want your steaks, whether you want them boneless of bone-in, how much fat do you want. I got my steaks from www.mymeatman.com and I was extremely happy. I would highly recommend buying meat from them. Not only do you get good value for money but the quality of the meat and the traceabililty of the producer makes it one of the healthiest and safest options in Hong Kong.
3. Choose the right cooking method
Simply stick to the following rules. If it is a boneless cut of might cook the steak over a high heat for a short period of time. For a 3.5cm steak medium should be about 3 1/2 minutes per side.
You can cook a bone-in steak like this too however I prefer to sear the steak and them finish it off in the oven (see the recipe at the end of this article).
4. Temperatures are important
Apart from cooking steak over a very high temperature it is also important that the steak is room temperature before cooking. In my opinion room temperature steaks cook more evenly and are more juicy. Chefs debate whether this is true but in my experience room temperature steaks just cook better. What is not debatable is that after cooking, steaks have to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. When the raw steak initially hits the pan all the meat juices move to the center of the steak. By allowing it to rest the juices are able to run back through all the muscle fibers resulting in a more juicy steak. I know its tempting to just dig in, but don’t! It’s worth the wait.
Bearing these tips in mind, here is my recipe for the perfect bone-in rib eye.
Bone-in rib eye steak (Serves 2 x 200g portions)
17 oz (500g) bone-in rib-eye
2 teaspoons of Maldon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 190 °C
2. Set a saute pan over high heat, do not add oil to the pan. Rub each steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. When the pan is searing add the steaks and sear for 3 minutes on each side making sure that the fat is well rendered all over.
4. Once seared place the steak on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook until an internal temperature of 62 °C is reached for the perfect medium rare steak or 68°C for a medium steak . Rest the steak for 10 minutes, slice and serve.
Eat your heart out!!