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Platter of grilled steaks

Platter of grilled steaks
© Ian Graham

A Steak is a piece of food that is cut into a thick slice. It used to always be a slice of beef, but then along came fish steaks, and now vegetarians make eggplant steaks. The pork and lamb people haven't really "staked" a claim on the word yet, but with the salmon people now using it non-stop, will they be far behind?

Nevertheless, in most people's mind, a Steak is still a thick slice of beef.

A Steak doesn't have to be a boneless cut: some people prefer their Steak to have a bone in it.

Generally, the word Steak implies a quick cooking and a high-quality piece of meat; people think barbeque (grilling) or flash pan-frying. The problem with the word Steak is that is overused. Retailers like it because it implies a superior cut of meat, and so apply it even to tougher cuts of meat, that actually need low and slow cooking. The name actually misleads the consumer in how to prepare it, the consumer end up having a lousy meal, and is put off beef Steak all together.

In order to deal with this, though, we'd have to come up with new terminology for Round Steaks, Flank Steaks, London Broil Steaks, etc and it's probably too late for that.

Pictured: Rib Steaks

Pictured: Rib Steaks
© Denzil Green

So in the meantime, it's buyer beware. You have to understand the cut of meat you are buying, because while a retailer is going to charge more for a superior cut of meat, they aren't going to put flashing orange sides on a tougher cut of meat to warn you.

Outside the store, at home, the use of the word Steak might be said to depend on whether someone is referring to a piece of meat that they are serving to you, or if they are referring to a piece of meat that will be served to them. If it's something that is being served to them, then people's expectations of what the word "steak" means goes way up. People are funny that way, aren't they?

Cooking Tips

Rare: feels like the fleshy mound at the base of your thumb;