This is for ZamZ.

It is best to use a good seasoned cast iron skillet as they retain and conduct heat exceptionally well. A non-stick pan will do, but they warp over time if you use them on high heat.

The cut of steak is very important. If possible, use sirloin caps, tenderloin, New York cut, or such. ZamZ had a rump steak though, so we'll talk about that.

Any steak benefits from a marinade. This could be made with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, roughly crushed black or green peppercorns, a few drops of sesame oil. The steak should marinate at least for half an hour. For a tougher cut, even three hours is not too long. If you are going to marinate for a short period, then some shoyu (soy sauce) is a good addition. Do not soak in shoyu for too long or use salt however because this will draw moisture from the meat and cause it to dry out and toughen up.

When you are ready to cook the steak, preheat the skillet until it smokes or the non-stick pan until it seems really hot. Pour in a small quantity of the oily marinade and place the steak in the pan. Always put things in hot pans with your hand moving away from the body to reduce spurts of hot oil that could burn you.

Sear the steak on the first side for two to three minutes. With a pair of tongs, pick up the steak and flip it to the other side. The first side should have some charring.

About tongs. Always use tongs. Never use a fork to cook meat with. You will puncture it and lose the juices. Never cut into a steak to test for doneness. Press on the surface of the meat with the tongs and notice the resistance. Soft is raw to rare, firm is medium, hard is well-done (which is a terrible thing to do to steak).

After one minute, pick up the steak with the tongs. Hold it firmly and sear the four edges for around half a minute or a minute.

Put the steak back on its first or second side, whichever requires more charring for about half a minute.

Remove the steak and put it into a shallow bowl. Let the steak rest for at least ten minutes, preferably fifteen or twenty. It will continue to cook for a while and juices will escape. As the steak cools, the fibres shrink back and retain the rest of the juices.

While the steak is resting, pour off the fat from the skillet and return it to high heat. Scrape the fond, the burnt bits on the bottom of the pan. These are very rich in flavour. (If you are using a non-stick pan, use a wooden spoon.) Pour in a cup or so of red wine and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Stir the fond into the wine and let the wine reduce by half or two thirds.

Pour this sauce into a bowl for dipping or to ladle over roast potatoes. Add the juices around the steak from the bowl.

Transfer the steak to a wooden cutting board. Hold the steak at one end with your fingers. With a very sharp knife (I recommend Wusthorf-Trident or Henkel) slice the steak into extremely thin pieces. Slide the knife under the steak and gather all of the pieces together, holding it from the top with the other hand.

Transfer to a plate or platter that has been strewn with mesclun or other greens. Now would be the time to season, preferably with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Serve with the dipping sauce and perhaps a bit of Dijon mustard in another bowl. Roast potatoes, rice, crusty breads are all good accompaniments.

Served this way, a single steak will be enough for two people. So you can afford to buy a good cut. Don't be cheap. You're worth the expense.

An interesting bit of seasoning you might sprinkle over the steak before cooking (marinade or not):

cayenne pepper
garlic powder
onion powder

mix a bit of that stuff up, and it adds a bit of flavor.

Also, you might try marinading your steak in beer. Some people rather enjoy this, and will leave a steak in a beer/garlic/whatever else they want marinade for as long as an entire day. I have been told you can poke the steak up a bit with a fork, in order to make it absorb more marinade. I would suggest staying away from any of those lemon marinades you see... that's for chicken.

Last but not least: if you can, cook the puppy on the grill... always much better over an open flame then in the frying pan (but I agree you should stick to wrought iron when it comes to pans...)

A few more tips... I'm not a big marinade guy, I want the flavor of the meat. If you enjoy steak, don't go to your local supermarket and buy the USDA choice. These are ok, but if you really want good steak, you'll need to seek out some USDA prime. You're not going to find this in the local supermarket, you'll have to try a local meat shop or if all else fails, order from Omaha Steaks. The quality of the meat is very important, prime has a very fine marbling all through the meat which makes it very tender and flavorful. Now, I saw this on TV and tried it, and it was great. So here's what you do. First, you need a grill. I'm not going to get into a gas vs charcoal debate here, use what you got, but get a high flame going so that the flames hit the steak. We're going for a good charbroil here. Next, coat the steak with sugar. That's right, sugar. Just lay it in a bowl of sugar, don't get carried away packing a crust on there, you want a very very light dusting or it will overpower the meat. Now slap it on the grill and cook. The sugar will carmalize, giving a nice sweet coating that tastes fantastic. Enjoy!

I've stumbled onto what I think is the perfect steak marinade. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/8 cup fish sauce, 1 clove pressed garlic, 1 small minced onion, and 2/3 tsp black pepper.

Soak the steak in this marinade for about 2 hours, flipping the steak every 30 minutes or so.

Grill it to taste.
I don't normally disagree with Sensei, especially about cooking, however, being very fond of beef I feel I should make my opinion known. There is a great deal of debate about whether to cook a steak on a grill or in a pan. I personally feel that an open flame is the best method for cooking beef and will yield a better tasting meal. If you don't have access to a grill, a good steak can be had from a pan if done correctly and Sensei's method will provide for good results. Marinade is an excellent way to season meats and help reduce the toughness of some cheaper cuts. I am of the opinion however, that marinades are best used on poultry or larger cuts of beef, not steak cuts. Seasoning of a steak should be done before application of heat. The perfect steak should arrive at the table and require no additional seasoning. I have found, through years of experimentation, that a blend of herbs, spices and salt yields the best flavor from beef. Sage, black pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend, salt, crushed red pepper, and onion powder yield a tasty and aromatic flavor. The devil, is of course in the correct portions of the seasoning blend. Experiment, find what you like best. Prepare the meat before you season. Using a sharp knife remove all the gristle and some of the fat. If you remove all the fat the steak will be rather dry, on the other hand some people are put off by too much fat. The important part is removing the gristle. This is the tougher white material that is most often found on the outside edge of the cut. If you got your meat from a good butcher there won't be a lot of gristle. When heated the gristle will shrink faster than the rest of the meat and your steak will curl up and cook unevenly. After you trim the meat, score both sides with your knife in a diamond pattern. The score should be between an eighth and a quarter of an inch deep depending on how thick your cut is. If you are concerned about the toughness of your steak you can cover it in cellophane and beat it with a meat mallet. Sprinkle the prepared meat with your seasoning blend on both sides of the steak and use your hands to rub it into the meat. You want to work the seasoning into the scores you cut and into the grain of the meat itself. After seasoning cover the meat and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a half hour and up to twenty-four hours. This will allow the meat to absorb the flavors of the seasoning blend. Cooking over a medium-high flame for a shorter period of time will yield a more tender juicier steak. Cooking over a low flame for a longer time will lend a smokier flavored but less tender steak.

How to Cook a Rare Steak

My Dad taught me how to cook a rare steak, and I'd like to share it, if I may. The same method can be used for a medium or well-done steak (if that floats your boat)

You need flame. I don't care where you get it from, but it's gotta be hot. I have a gas BBQ so that's what I use. It doesn't taste as special as charcoal, but it's easier to get the right temperature.

Good meat is essential. Tenderloin of beef is my favorite, T-bones are okay, striploins will pass with a push. It should not have been frozen. If you can, bug the butcher to cut it for you. An inch to and inch-and-a-half thick tenderloin is just perfect.

I know this will be difficult for some...but leave the meat alone. Don't marinate it, pound it or look at it funny. Leave it alone. Do Not Salt The Meat! No Salt! Not Even a Little! Trust me on this one. Salt sucks the juices out of the meat, osmosis and all that. So forget it.(If you absolutely MUST use salt...add it right before you serve the meal)

Now heat the grill. Light it, turn the burner(s) on bust and go inside to get the steaks. Get some tongs, some BBQ sauce if you fancy it and a beer. Drink the beer while waiting for the grill to get good and hot.

When the grill is really hot (I don't know how hot this is. Test the limits of your grill. Be brave.) put the steaks on. Now close the lid and set your watch for 3 minutes. Don't open the lid. It's like cooking rice, trust that the steaks are okay. After the 3 minutes, you can put sauce on the steaks if you want, flip them, and put the lid down again. Wait another 3 minutes. Remove the steaks from the grill and bring them inside. Turn off the're done with it. (If you want a medium or well done steak, cook the steaks longer) A rule of thumb for the doneness of meat is that rare will feel like your chin, medium will feel like the tip of your nose and well done will feel like your forehead.

Now make some salad while you let the steaks rest. This keeps all the juice from running out when you dig in.

Serve. Enjoy. Soak up the praise that your guests will lavish on you.

Steamed Steak

A little backstory on this one. My friend was over my house, we were fixing to make ourselves dinner (cooking with your friends can be great fun, you may find) and I had this fairly new steamer. Whatever the reason, he and I both decided we could go for some steak. Well, we put two and two together: we'd steam the steak! We scoured the Internet for some sort of recipe, but none was available. We worked out a recipe ourselves for something that, as far as I know, is totally original.

How'd it come out? It was fantastic. It was tender, juicy, and succulent. It was flavorful as well, but in a fashion different than that of a more orthodox steak.

  • One frozen steak (I don't know what kind I used, but considering the size of steamers you probably don't want anything with a bone in it)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Steamer

Excepting the steamer, if you don't have this stuff, how the hell do you cook anything?

Anyway, you have all this stuff in front of you. Fill your steamer to the "high" level with water. You might not need that much, but it won't hurt anything.

Now, back to your steak, which has probably thawed a little. You'll probably have to break or saw the stubborn thing into several pieces to make it fit into your steamer. Jimmy it into the steaming bowl.

Assemble the steamer.

Now, of course, as any true steak afficionado will realize, you want the steak to be pink in the center. Now how fast you reach that depends on how fast your water heats up, how big the steak bits are, and all that, but anywhere from 25-45 minutes is my guess. Use your judgement.

Allez cuisine!


Oven-Cooked steak

So maybe you read my recipe for steamed steak, but you want something more traditional. Maybe you don't have a steamer. Maybe you think "If you think I'm eating that you've got another think coming." Whatever the case may be, you want a different steak recipe?

Well, I aim to please.

You need this stuff:

  • Oven
  • Stovetop
  • Cast-iron skillet (You don't want one with a rubber or plastic grip—trust me on this one)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil (canola, peanut, or corn are ideal, but olive will do in a pinch)
  • A steak

Your steak can't be frozen, so thaw it first if need be.

Now, get your steak out and smear some oil, salt, and pepper on both sides. It's supposed to sit a while.

Lucky you, that gives you time to prepare your oven and your skillet. Place the skillet on the burner and turn the heat all the way up. Heat your oven to 500°F.

By the time that's done your steak will have sat enough, so plonk it on the skillet and let it cook for 30 seconds. Flip it and let it cook for another thirty seconds.

Now turn off the burner and throw the skillet in the oven. After 2 minutes, flip the steak over and close the oven. After an additional two minutes, take the skillet out (this should be obvious, but you need an oven mitt or towel, because the handle's around 500°F—hot enough to melt lead).

Let the steak sit 3 minutes. It's ready to serve.

This will give you a delicious, tender medium-rare steak. For medium, leave it in the oven 3 minutes per side. If you prefer medium-well to well-done, you might as well just microwave the damn thing.

If you like, eggs are a nice complement to either recipe.

Allright you anti-salt steak cooks, listen up!

Please, for the love all all that is good and pure in the cooking of meats sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on it before cooking, a good healthy pinch on each side will do.

Now here's why... Yes it is true salt draws out moisture from meat, however, when a small amount is sprinkled over the face of the meat that will contact the cooking surface it will...

a) Not draw out enough moisture to affect the "juciness" of the steak.

b) it will draw some of these juices to the surface where they will brown and crisp during the cooking process creating a very flavorful coating.

This coating will create such flavor that all your other spices, herbs and aother aromatic ingredients will just get in the way of pure, meaty goodness. Besides the high heat nessecary to properly sear a steak will also burn most herbs and spices. If you wish to add herbs and spices I suggest you take the steak drippings and incorporate those flavoring ingredients into a sauce.

As for the cut of meat to use, I suggest Striploin (New York Strip to most of us) and Ribeye cuts, these have enough fat content to ensure a tender, flavorful steak even if you are one of those blasphemers who cook your meats to well-done. Tenderloin, is both expensive and very lean, I would only suggest tenderloin to those carnivores like myself who prefer meat on the rare side of the equation (cooking a tenderloin to well-done is like pissing on a Picasso).

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