How to Cut a Steak the Right Way
If you’re a steak lover, you know that not all steaks are created equal. Dozens of factors determine the quality of your steak, including the type of cattle (for example, American wagyu cattle produce some of the most satisfying steaks in the world), preparation method, seasonings, and many others.
One often overlooked factor, though, is how you slice your steak before you enjoy the savory flavors and satisfying mouthfeel of your first delicious bite.
Here are some tips to cut the perfect American Wagyu steak.
Start with patience.
Whether you’ve just pulled a plate of American wagyu ribeyes or tri-tip steaks from the grill, or you’re looking at wagyu filet mignon seared to perfection, letting the steaks rest before cutting is essential.
While it can seem nearly impossible to resist cutting into a savory steak, holding back actually helps improve the flavor and texture of the meat. As steaks cook, the juices inside tend to collect in certain areas of the meat. If you cut into it right away, the juices will quickly drain out, leaving you with a drier, less flavorful steak.
As the meat rests, though, the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in an evenly cooked, flavorful steak that you’ll still be thinking about months later.
What does letting a steak “rest” entail?
The 20-30 minutes you’ll spend being tempted by the aromas of your fresh-off-the-grill steaks is the hardest part of “resting” your steaks. The rest of the process is simple:
- Remove the steaks from the heat source and place them on a plate or cutting board.
- Loosely cover the steaks with aluminum foil and place them out of the way. The steaks should be kept at room temperature while resting.
- Don’t remove the foil during the resting period. This will allow moisture to escape, which can produce a drier, unevenly cooked steak.
How long should you let a steak rest?
If you’re going to spend the money on a high-quality steak, such as American wagyu filet mignon or ribeye, it’s worth doing whatever it takes to enjoy the truly exceptional flavor, aroma, and texture of the beef.
This means waiting a big longer than you’d probably expect. Smaller cuts of steak, such as filet mignon, need to rest for 20 minutes before serving and slicing. A larger ribeye or American wagyu tri-tip steak should rest for up to 30 minutes.
Slice against the grain.
If you look at your steaks, you’ll see that the “grain” - the orientation of the individual fibers that make up the steak - is fairly uniform.
This might be a little harder to spot if your steak was prepared on a grill. Many people instinctively cut the steak according to the direction of the grill marks; however, grill lines do not indicate the direction of the grain.
Some people opt to pan sear the steak to eliminate the confusion caused by grill lines - many of these people find that they prefer the flavor and uniform cooking of cast iron skillets over traditional grills.
Instead of slicing the meat along the grain - that is, in the same direction - slice your steak crossways so that the fibers are cut instead of separated.
Slicing across the grain improves your steak-eating experience in two important ways:
- It shortens the length of the fibers in each bite of steak. Human teeth weren’t designed to handle long strands of muscle fiber - they’re difficult for us to chew, can get stuck between your teeth, and can be hard to swallow.
By cutting your steak across the grain, you cut those fibers into lengths your teeth can manage easily. This creates the perception of a more tender steak, and requires less chewing before swallowing each bite.
- It releases the juices of a well-rested steak. When you pop a bite in your mouth, you’ll be instantly rewarded by the juicy flavors of the meat.
How to cut a tri-tip steak
Although the tips above apply to many cuts of steak, including ribeyes and filet mignon, there’s a little more care that goes into correctly cutting a tri tip steak.
Like filets and ribeyes, tri-tip steaks should rest before slicing, and should be sliced against the grain. Because there are two different grain patterns in a tri tip steak, though, you’ll need to choose your cutting direction a little more carefully.
Take a look at your tri-tip steak before cooking. You’ll see that the grain pattern on the left and right sides of the steak are different, and that they join near the center. Make note of the grain patterns, as they are a bit more difficult to see after the steak has been grilled or seared.
Cut the cooked tri-tip steak along the center division line. Then slice each half of the steak across the grain.
Ready to elevate your steak experience?
Knowing how to correctly slice a steak is even more enjoyable when you start with premium American wagyu beef. Introduce your taste buds to the most flavorful steaks in the U.S. at www.kowsteaks.com