5 Steak Facts You Probably Didn't Know
Steak is a wonderful thing. It fills our bellies, tantalises us with fantastical flavours, and anesthetises ya with its aroma now you may call yourself a steak pro. A meat aficionado, a true beefologist but here are a few facts about the food we all love that you may or may not have known.
The “blood” in steak isn’t actually blood at all.
That’s right. When you’ve ordered yourself a rare steak or you’re watching your dinner partner partake in a steak served “blue”, what they or you are lapping up is not blood.
When you think about it. The liquid looks nothing like blood and tastes absolutely delicious unlike blood so where do we get this idea from? Saying “it’s too bloody” is common when steak has been served under your preferred doneness but let’s set the record straight.
That liquid is actually a protein called Myoglobin and it is responsible for carrying oxygen around the muscle. Much like its better know cousin Hemoglobin which transports oxygen in the blood, Myoglobin is the muscular equivalent.
Whether this makes it better or worse to see on your plate is up to the steak eater but now you can at least have a smart-aleck response to someone who claims their steak is too bloody.
2) Why is steak called steak?
Steak. Steak, steak, steak. It’s almost like one of those words which, when repeated multiple times, loses its original meaning but what’s in the name? It doesn’t exactly fit the juicy, tender, and delicious article. In fact, it's almost too harsh of a word to describe something so delicately delicious.
It turns out that the word steak as we say and spell it today can trace its roots back to the Saxons. A fierce people known as much for their rough and nomadic lifestyle as they were for their advances in technology such as farming and metalworking.
What they did provide us with though is the word “stelk” which translates to “meat on a stick”. Quite a pedestrian description as Saxon meat was very often roasted on a stick over a campfire but, after millennia of bastardisation, stelk melded into steak and here we are.
3) Don’t get the ‘ump with rump
You’ve probably seen the rump steak on steakhouses menus sat right at the bottom, almost feebly cheap, and just looking like the unwanted runt of the litter when it comes to fine restaurant-quality cuts.
Whatever you do though, do not discount rump as a “poor mans” steak or anything like that. Rump would more aptly be known as the dark horse of the steak world if it were given a fair crack of the whip.
It may be a shade chewier than fancier cuts but it’s flavour is almost beyond compare. It’s well known that the rump steak holds more beefy flavour than the prized fillet mignon at almost a third of the price. So make sure you back the underdog and remember that a well aged piece of rump is going to be just as tender and juicy as a prime cut which brings us on to our next fact.
4) Life begins at 28 days
Aging a steak is almost like a cheat code for a more flavourful, more tender, and just a better steak overall. A good dry aging can turn a cheap cut like the aforementioned rump into something quite spectacular and well deserving of a place among the glitterati of steak.
The process of aging allows the muscle fibres to relax and break down which produces more tender meat while the meat exposed to air will form a sort of mould. Don’t worry, this mould is removed before cooking and is absolutely harmless, think of it as the kind of mould you’d find on high-end cheeses.
This mould does and important job of sealing flavour into the meat, imparting onto the meat a more in-depth with and complex flavour profile while also promoting the evaporation of moisture which creates a leaner and more concentrated flavour of steak.
In short, if you see aged anything on the steakhouse menu then it is almost certainly worth the extra couple of quid.
5) Well done steak isn’t just bad for your tastebuds, it can also be bad for your health.
That’s right, ordering a steak well done isn’t only a crime against meat and likely to make your chef weep, it is also may be damaging to your health.
The steak loving fandom is all inclusive and while a few judgemental stares and the dreaded tongue click might be heading your way if you’re ovearhead ordering a steak “well done”, we very much preach a “live and let live” atmosphere here. Still though, if you are someone who likes a well done steak then pay attention.
A study of more than 100,000 participants found that those who enjoyed a well done steak had a higher average blood pressure than those who enjoyed their meat a bit pinker or just slowly walked through a warm room.
This is not to say that well-done steak causes instant death and should be avoided like the plague, in fact, the researchers stress that the findings do not prove cause and effect, it’s still worth bearing in mind.
So there you have it. 5 facts about the meal we all know and love that you may or may not have known before. If you do know a steak fact then get in touch via the comments, email, or any of our social feeds. We’d be glad to hear what you know!