- Hand-scoring it in both directions;
- Pounding it with a meat mallet;
- Putting it through a “cuber” machine which scores the meat.
Whichever way (and the mechanical means is most likely), the steak ends up looking like it is made up of cubes, but it is still actually one piece of meat. (Sometimes, the machine will put tiny pin-holes in the meat instead of or in addition to scoring it.) The idea is that partially breaking up the tissue in the meat will help to make it less chewy.
This is sometimes called a minute steak. Minute steak, however, is even thinner than cube steak, is usually cut from the sirloin or round, and has a much faster cooking time. The confusion, however, has been around so long that it is probably past fixing.
In the American south, cube steak stars in the dish “Chicken Fried Steak.”
To fry plain, cook for a few minutes on each side, but don’t try to get them well-done or you will get shoe leather. If you want to cook them for well-done, look for a recipe that compensates for their toughness by using a method such as braising.