Every home cook may have their tried-and-true method for making the perfect steak.
But science suggests you probably did it wrong.
Physicist George Vekinis claims that most people’s steak cooking techniques result in dry, tough meat.
Instead of opting for the grill or a skillet, Mr. Vekinis says the perfect steak should be heated in the microwave — and never salted.
Salting the steak removes water from the meat and creates something that is “tough and inedible.”
Science says you’ve been cooking your steak all wrong. To get the perfect cut, you should omit the salt and preheat the steak in the microwave for a few minutes
Although it may not seem appetizing, science recommends that the best steaks should be unsalted and heated in the microwave before frying
“Salt should never be added to a steak before frying,” Mr Vekinis said on the BBC podcast Instant Genius.
“Salt has the osmotic ability to remove as much water as possible from the meat, making it tough and inedible.”
If you want to season your steak, Mr. Vekinis recommends it’s best to do it after cooking is complete to avoid removing even more water.
The other big mistake people make is cooking the steak while it’s still cold from the fridge, which he says is a “no.”
“If you cook it straight from the fridge, you’re essentially not heating the meat from the inside,” he explained.
Since steaks are only heated directly for a short time, the energy from the pan does not have to be transferred to the meat for long.
While the surface of the meat can cook just as quickly, the interior of a cold steak takes much longer to cook, resulting in a burnt exterior or raw interior.
To avoid this, Mr. Vekinis recommends warming the steak in the microwave for a while before frying.
“It’s always a good idea to microwave the meat first,” he said.
After salting, Mr. Vekinis recommends cooking each side for a maximum of a minute to add some color and flavor
Mr. Vekinis recommends “putting it in the microwave for a minute or two,” but added that this “depends on the thickness of the meat.”
“Then you fry it quickly, very briefly, as briefly as possible, just to give it a little Maillard Yard reaction on the surface so you get that light aroma and enjoyment of the flavor,” he explained.
“When I say short, I’m talking a minute or less.” “You take a steak or beef or whatever it is and you just sear it as little as possible on both sides.”
Mr Vekinis added: “The ideal way to eat the meat is medium rare, so slightly red and cooked on the outside.”
“The only way to be absolutely sure about this is to either start with a thin piece of meat or use a thicker piece of meat that has been properly microwaved from the inside.”
“The temperature in the meat should reach at least 55-60°C [131- 140°F] and that is the bare minimum.’
Meat that is too rare can increase the risk of food poisoning because it may contain harmful bacteria.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends heating fresh meat such as steaks to a minimum temperature of 145°F (62°C) to ensure safety.
However, that is still a good 7°C higher than the temperatures required to achieve the perfect medium rarity preferred by Mr. Vekinis.
What is the ideal temperature for steaks?
Rare: 49-54°C (120-130°F)
Medium Rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
Medium: 57-63°C (135-145°F)
Medium Well Steak: 145-155°F (63-68°C)
Well-done steak at 68°C and above
However you like your steak, there is a perfect temperature to achieve the results you want
However, rare steak is slightly safer than rare ground meat because most bacteria cannot penetrate the surface of the meat and so the rare interior can still be safe in some cases.
It is worth remembering that beef and other meats are eaten raw all over the world in dishes such as steak tartare or beef carpaccio.
However, when in doubt, it is always safer to cook to the recommended safe temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy and safety.
However, Mr. Vekinis’ advice might upset some celebrity chefs, who would turn up their noses at an unsalted, microwaved steak.
Gordon Ramsey’s own recipe calls for the steak to be generously rubbed with salt before cooking.
Jamie Oliver’s recipe also contradicts Vekinis’ theory, as he recommends rubbing steaks with salt, pepper and olive oil before frying.
American chef and food writer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, known for his scientific approach to cooking, also contradicts Mr. Vekinis’ claims.
Mr. Lopez-Alt compared the results of four steaks seasoned at different times before cooking to determine which seared best. in an article for Serious Eats.
Steaks cooked three to four minutes after seasoning were more poorly seared because osmosis drew water to the surface, disrupting the chemical reactions that create the brown, tasty crust.
However, he found that steaks salted immediately before cooking seared excellently and were not affected by osmosis.
Likewise, the best results were achieved if you salted the steak the night before and left it to rest in the refrigerator.
Mr. Lopez-Alt found that this dried the steak and seared it better, and resulted in only a negligible five percent moisture loss.