There are many ways to cook beef: Chinese fried beef, corned beef, and braised beef, each cooked using a unique practice, and each having their own distinct flavor. Cooking steak Western style is a completely different world, the results of high temperature frying exudes a charming aroma, maintaining the juicy texture, and retaining the unique sweetness of the beef itself.
Many people are hesitant about eating a rare steak thinking it is too raw or even unsafe to eat. Before we discuss this aspect, let’s talk about the different degrees of ‘done-ness’ and the corresponding internal temperatures, as well as the color and touch.
Rare: the internal temperature is 52-55 degrees Celsius; the meat is cherry red on the inside and feels very soft.
Medium Rare: the internal temperature is 55-60 degrees Celsius; the inside is still red, but looks a little warmer; a little more flexible to the touch.
Medium: the internal temperature is 60-65 degrees Celsius; the inside is pink; feels more flexible than medium rare.
Medium Well: the internal temperature is 65-69 degrees Celsius; most of the inside is gray-brown with only the central part a little pink; feels very flexible.
Well Done: The internal temperature exceeds 71 degrees Celsius; the inside is gray; firm to the touch.
There are two more alternatives, one of which is close to raw, Extra Rare, with an internal temperature of only 47-49 degrees Celsius; and the other has an internal temperature of more than 100 degrees Celsius, meaning burnt, and requiring a lot of courage to try. I don’t, of course, discuss these two options here.
How to Eat Beef Safely
The two food safety aspects to note regarding beef are bacterial contamination and parasite infestation. Bacterial contamination is generally E. coli and Salmonella, which reproduce on the surface of the steak and are killed instantly by high temperature frying.
Parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, live in the interior of the beef, well-concealed and difficult to eradicate. FoodSafety.gov, the official US website for food safety, gives two solutions. One is to freeze the beef at minus 18 degrees Celsius for nine days to kill parasites.
Of course, after the beef is frozen, the flavor may be reduced. The other way is cooking the beef to 63 degrees Celsius and maintain this temperature for 3 minutes, which also kills the parasites. So, according to this information, steak cooked to Medium is safe to eat.
How to Identify the Pros and Cons of Beef
Fresh beef has a normal fresh beef smell.
If the beef smells bit of ammonia or sour, or has a rancid smell, do not buy it.
Look for Color
The color of fresh beef should be bright red, shiny, and uniform in color. The fat should be white or milky yellow.
If the color is a darker red and the fat appears dull, or has any greenish tinge to it, it is not fresh and you should not buy it.
Look for Elasticity
You should be able to press down on fresh beef with your fingers down, and have it bounce back immediately.
Avoid beef that recovers slowly or not at all when pressed down.
Look for Viscosity
The surface of fresh beef should be moist, yet dry and when touched and will not leave residue on your fingers, or make them sticky.
Do not buy beef that has a sticky surface.
Look at the Juices
When thawed, high-quality beef should exude a clear, transparent liquid with cellulite floating on the surface, which will produce a delicious flavor when cooked.
If the liquid produced after thawing is a little muddy, and has fat droplets floating on the surface, it will produce an inferior flavor.
If the liquid is cloudy, with yellow or white flakes floating on the surface, and has an unpleasant odor, do not use it.
Steak is usually fried and eaten as one piece and accompanied with a sauce and side dishes. However, today I’m going to introduce a different way of eating steak, cut into thin slices, and served with delicious sliced onion marinated in apple cider vinegar, vegetable salad, and cheese all wrapped in homemade tortillas.
So next time you have your buddies over for steak and drinks, diverge from the normal steak and give this a try. Who doesn’t like steak? Who doesn’t like tortillas? My Steak Tortillas are bound to be a hit!
Mexican Tortillas (makes 12 x 20 cm diameter tortillas):
List of ingredients:
- 420 g ordinary flour. Tortillas do not need the same quality of flour as bread or pizza. Originating in the northern part of Mexico, tortillas are particularly popular in the southwest United States. The wheat quality in this region is lower than wheat used for bread flour, which makes it cheaper, and perfect for tortillas.
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder. Baking powder is composed of baking soda and a biologically weak acid, is very safe, and we can rest assured that the use of baking powder will make the tortillas taste softer.
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- 70 ml grape seed oil. You could also use peanut oil, sunflower oil or other light flavored vegetable oil. If the weather is cold, it’s best not to use lard, butter or other animal fat, as it will make the tortillas drier.
- 250 ml warm water. ‘Warm’ is 35-40 degrees Celsius, and feels a little warm. To warm the water, place cold water in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.
For the Steak:
- 3 New York steaks, totaling 750 grams
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil
- 1 purple onion, about 170 g
- 90 ml apple cider vinegar
- 40 g sugar
- ½ – 1 teaspoon (3 g) salt
- 180 g lettuce
- 12 slices cheese
- 60 ml tomato ketchup
Step 1: Pickle the Onions
Peel the onion and slice as thin as possible.
Take a suitably sized jar, pour in the apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt, and stir quickly so the sugar and salt dissolve completely. Put the onion slices into the jar and pickle for 2 hours.
These marinated onion slices taste wonderfully sweet and sour, completely without the strong flavor of onions, and are one of the best things to serve with steak. They are also delicious in a hot dog or burger<Link to hamburger article>, adding a unique finishing touch.
Step 2: Make the Tortillas
Add the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of your mixer, and whisk to combine. The moisture content of tortilla dough is relatively high, so it’s very sticky to handle. It’s best to let your mixer or bread machine do the work.
Slowly pour in the grape seed oil while stirring. After all the grape seed oil is poured in, the flour should resemble bread crumbs.
Crush out any lumps with your hand.
Next, slowly pour in the warm water, while stirring quickly.
Attach your dough hook, and mix the dough on low speed. This should not take long, mix only until the dough is smooth and even,
and looks like this:
Sprinkle some flour on a chopping board to prevent the dough sticking. Using a silicone scraper or other tool, remove the dough from the mixer bowl and form into one shape on the chopping board. Cut into 12 equal sized portions.
Knead each portion by hand into a sphere and put them into a non-stick pot or a baking pan (the diameter of the baking dish below is 24 cm, perfect for 12 portions). Cover with plastic wrap and leave them to relax for 30 minutes.
The relaxation time can be longer, and it is perfectly fine to put the dough into the fridge overnight and cook them the next day.
Step 3: Cook the Tortillas
While the dough is relaxing, wash and dry the lettuce. Always dry lettuce before using, whether it is in a salad or a sandwich, to avoid sogginess or dilution of dressing flavor.
Place a portion of dough on a floured surface and press it into a round shape. Gently roll it out thin (after relaxing the dough, it will be very soft, so rolling will not take much effort). While rolling the dough, you will need to constantly turn the tortilla to achieve a uniform thickness. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle some more flour on the rolling surface.
Always roll the tortilla to about 22 cm diameter to allow for shrinkage when it is cooked.
A 22 cm tortilla will need 26 cm pan which can be a non-stick or stainless steel pan, though stainless steel will give better results because heat can pass directly from the metal substrate to the tortilla. The thermal conductivity of an adhesive coating is relatively low. No matter what kind of pan you use, it must be fully preheated. A 26 cm pan will need at least need 2 1/2 minutes to heat to the right temperature.
The tortilla should color and blister within 30 seconds if not, the pan temperature is too low. If the pan is not hot enough, the tortillas will dry out due to prolonged heat, and the flavor will not be as nice.
Step 5: Cook the Steak
Take the steak out of the refrigerator half an hour before you intend to cook it, so it returns to room temperature. If it is frozen, thaw the steak in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Sprinkle the salt and black pepper evenly on both sides of the steak. Drizzle some olive oil over the surface of the steak and gently massage in with your hands. This will combine the salt and pepper and result in better flavor.
Preheat a 26 cm heavy based stainless steel pan for 3 minutes, and quickly put the steak into the pan. You will not need any extra oil since the steak has oil rubbed all over it. When you first put the steak on the bottom of the pan, place one end in and lie it down in the direction away from you to avoid splashing yourself with oil.
Fry the steak for one minute and flip over. Doing this five times is equivalent to frying each side once for 3 minutes.
Use the tongs to sit the steak on its sides and fry each for 30 seconds.
Place the fried steak on a plate and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. If the room temperature is low, or it is winter, you may need to heat the plate a little, to maintain the steak’s temperature.
Step 6: Build Your Steak Tortilla
Using a very sharp knife, cut the steak into thin slices. The slices need to be thin, so they are easy to bite into once the tortilla is rolled up.
Take a tortilla and spread some tomato ketchup on top, then add some lettuce, marinated purple onion, shredded cheese, and of course, steak slices. Roll it up and take a big bite! Yeah!