While, I won't claim that this method will make the best steak you've ever had, frying a good, basic steak shouldn't be difficult. Except, I have a friend who literally can't ever fry a steak right. And at least one reader who asked how because she couldn't either.
Lil' sis and I, we like our $2 steaks. Yeah, yeah, you can get all fancy schmancy and stuff with better cuts and free-range and all that, but I have pedestrian tastes and a small budget. Steaks make a quick dinner when I'm feeling lazy. They're great on salads when I want to eat less meat or to stretch out a meal.
I rarely let my steaks marinate for more than 10 minutes. Quick meal, remember? If you have a particularly tough piece of meat, my mom's trick is to lightly dust it with baking soda and let it rest for a few minutes. Then rinse thoroughly or else leftover baking soda will taste very bitter. Then marinate the steak and cook as usual. But as I said, a cheap steak and no marination time is my usual method.
This isn't so much about how to cook steak as it is to know what to look out for so you know when it's done.
No, this method won't result in steakhouse steak, but it will get you a perfectly decent dinner in less than 10 minutes.
How to Fry the Perfect Steak
1 steak, any cut and size of your choice. I generally prefer about 1/4- or 1/3-lb sizes
1/2 tsp steak seasoning or 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Optional: 1 tsp soy sauce
Ideally, use a black steel or cast iron pan. The steel and cast iron pans hold heat longer, creating a better char on the outside. Read my How to Season Black Steel Pans post to see why I use this pan so often in my kitchen.
Or here, I'll just use a photo of my cast iron pan from my recipe for Lomo Saltado/Thit Bo Xao voi Khoai Tay Chien (Peruvian/Vietnamese Beef Stir-Fry with French Fries) to show you how much I like this one too.
Season both sides of the steak and let rest for 10 minutes if you have time, or not if you don't. You can use this time to prep salad ingredients or to boil vegetables or whatever. This is a very old photo from March 2008. I've made many steaks since then, just never bothered photographing them.
Here's a newer photo with the steak seasoned with soy sauce.
Heat the pan to medium-high. If you plan to make pan gravy with the beef juices, then use two pats of butter. Otherwise, olive oil is just fine.
When the butter melts or the oil starts smoking, add the beef.
My other kitchen essential is a splatter guard. Keeps messes to a minimum.
Depending on the size of your steak, it may take anywhere from two to five minutes or more to cook. My steaks were small so literally two minutes each side was all that was needed.
Do not move or flip your steak before it's ready. You want time for it to develop a proper char. Notice the side of the steak? When it's cooked about halfway up the side, then it's time to flip. That is, if you like your steaks cooked medium. Obviously, if you want it more or less cooked, adjust the time appropriately, paying attention to the side of the steak to monitor its level of doneness.
Nice char means time to flip.
Same time for opposite end. So that would be another two minutes for me.
See the side? The steak is appropriately done halfway up the side too.
If you're serving the steak as a meal, leave to rest on a plate. I served this one with a side of Mashed Cauliflower.
This piece rested on a glass cutting board since I planned to slice it. You must let your steak rest for at least 10 minutes so the juices will redistribute! If you don't, the first piece will be juicy, but the other mouthfuls will be dry, dry, dry.
See how after resting, when I slice the steak, all the pieces still look juicy? So don't be so impatient, m'kay?
After slicing, you can make dishes like Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad).
Or make Pan Gravy with the leftover marinade and beef juices and eat it American-style.
Did that help? Too basic? How do you cook your steaks?
1 year ago today, On Being Sick, Being Thankful, and Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew).
2 years ago today, "Fruit-shi" ie. Dessert Sushi.
3 years ago today, semen tea and snowflakes at 85 Degrees C Tea House - San Gabriel (Closed).