I love steak, and I love it plain and simple, without any fancy sauce or excessive additional flavours. You want to taste the meat. I always used to just add salt and pepper, but since seeing this done in a famous steak-house in South Africa I have added white-mustard seed to the “crust”. I also add a dash of truffle oil, just to give really lift it to the next level.
Again, keep steak simple – but buy the best quality beef. Make sure it has been aged, preferable dry-aged. If it is red, it will NOT be nice!
Cooking a perfect steak is not as easy as it sounds. But if you follow these few tips your steak will be prime!
TOP TIP 1 – The Meat
- Buy the best meat you can. It needs to be dry-aged for at leat 28 days but longer if possible.
- Choose either sirloin or rib-eye – these are my favourite cuts.
- Make sure they are at leat 2 cm thick. You want them on the fire for long enough to give them a good sear, but they still need to be medium-rare in the middle (my preference – adjust according to your taste).
- You don’t need more than 300g (raw weight).
TOP TIP 2 – The Pan
If you are not boing to BBQ this over coals, then you will require a really good, heavy based, griddle-pan for the stove. I use a cast iron griddle-pan.
TOP TIP 3 – The Heat
You need a lot of heat:
- If you are doing it over the coals, you should not be able to hold your hand over the coals (5cm from grid) for longer than 2 seconds. If you can hold it longer the fire is not hot enough.
- If you are using a griddle-pan on the stove, put the griddle-pan on a high heat and let it get piping hot. I put it on at least 15 minutes before I start with the meat. You should start smelling the “iron” and smoke should come off the pan – then it is ready. Remember when you add the steak it will cool down the pan immediately…so you need to try and get it as hot as possible to keep as consistent heat as possible.
TOP TIP 4 – Turning the Meat
All the cookbooks will tell you that you should only turn the meat once. If you turn it more then the meat will not seal and all the juices run out. This is utter nonsense. Meat is muscle and it contracts with heat. So if you place it over hot heat and leave it, logic prevails that it will contract. With contraction it will release any juice that is in the meat…so:
I turn the meat every 20-30 seconds. This way it does not ever get to a point where the meat starts “pulling” and releasing liquids. It’s a pain in the ass if you are making more than 2 or 3 steaks, but trust me it is worth all the effort!
TOP TIP 4 – Doneness
Eat the steak like you like it! Many people pull up their noses if steak is done more than medium…but this is according to your tastebuds…so do it like you like. I like my steak medium rare, but that is my choice.
If you are really particular about your steak then invest in a digital meat thermometer and test the internal temperature to get your steak perfect – Check the chart in the HOW TO section below to see the correct temperatures for your steak.
TOP TIP 5 – Salting
Salting the steak is extremely important. I salt the steaks at least 6 hours before I am going to cook them. Again, this may sound counter intuitive, because you have been taught that the longer it stands in salt the saltier it will taste. That is also nonsense.
The salting causes osmosis, and the longer it salts the more tender the meat will be. So add the amount of salt you would usually add and let it “brine”. I usually use about 1/2 tsp per side – but this is entirely up to you.
Adding salt I also make sure that the steaks are at room temperature when I put them on the fire.