I was reading the other day on a newsite that posts restaurant kitchen health code scores and I was amazed by the reaction by commenters on the site, calling for a particular restaurant to be
How to salt and cook steak like a pro at home.
Dated: February 1 2024
Ever go to a high-end steakhouse and wonder how they get that beautiful, dark char on the outside of the steak? Or, have you noticed that sometimes, no matter what you do, you can't get the steak to brown at all? The answer lies with salt, and science!
From the science aspect, the browning of meat is as a result of the Malliard reaction. Basically, around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the amino acids that make up the proteins in the meat break down, forming somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 unique chemical compounds, producing a vast array of aromas and opening new dimensions of flavor. However, this reaction can only occur in a dry environment, because liquids cannot reach the required temperature. If there's moisture on the surface of your steak, the perfect crust will elude you, and the main contributor might be salt.
You mean I can't just salt it and cook it?
Nope. Well, not really.
In an ideal world, salting is about timing. Salting your steak goes beyond just taste. Salt also traps water inside the steak, preventing it from becoming dry and tough when you cook it. This process, however, takes around 40 minutes. In the first minutes after you salt a steak, the salt draws moisture from the muscle and onto the surface of the steak, essentially creating a brine. As the salt breaks down the protein, the brine will seep back into the meat. This process takes around 20 minutes.
To avoid this problem, you should do one of three things:
1. Salt your meat and put it on a wire rack in your fridge overnight to dry. This is optimal for restaurant worthy steak sear. -or-
2. Salt your steak for about 40 minutes before you cook, letting the steak come close to room temperature. -or-
3. Salt your steak immediately before cooking
Then, before putting your steak on the grill or on a ripping hot pan, pat it dry and let it sear away!
Is all salt the same?
NO! All salt is not the same! Never ever use plain ole table salt on steak!
You want to use large, coarse salt and avoid small, iodized salt.
Ideally, apply salt liberally and from a decent distance above the steak to avoid concentrating too much salt onto one area. Think that Salt Bae dude on social media.
Sea Salt works great, but is a bit more salty than others.
Himalayan Salt is also great, and adds some minerals too.
Kosher Salt is nice and neutral and great for cooking.
Truffle Salt adds an outstanding layer of flavor that can put a steak over the top.
Experimenting with different salts and styles can add a real restaurant style layer to your at home cooking. Let me know what your favorite is!
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