A steak (from Old Norse steik, "roast") is a
cut of meat (usually beef). Most steaks are cut perpendicular to the
muscle fibres, improving the perceived tenderness of the meat. In North
America, steaks are typically served grilled, though they are also often
steak on a grill.
The more tender
cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole.
Less tender cuts from the chuck or round are cooked with moist heat or are
In the United States a typical steak dinner consists of a steak, with a starchy
side dish, usually baked potatoes, but occasionally another potato dish, rice,
pasta, or beans. A small serving of cooked vegetables accompanies the meat and
side, with green beans, creamed spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas
and onion rings being popular.
A well-known accompaniment to steak is shrimp or
a cooked lobster tail, a combination often called "surf and turf" or "reef and
beef" and "pier and steer".
Tenderized round or sirloin steaks, breaded, and pan-fried or
deep-fried, are called chicken fried or country fried steaks, respectively.
Thinly sliced ribeye or other tender cuts, cooked on a hot griddle and shredded
slightly, and served on Italian style rolls are called Philly steaks, named
after Philadelphia, the city in which they became famous.
In France, steak is usually served with
French fried potatoes also known as
"frites", and the combination is known as "steak-frites". Vegetables are not
normally served with steak in this manner, but a green salad may follow or (more
commonly) be served at the same time. This is also the case in the United
In Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom,
Ireland, United States and South Africa, a restaurant that specializes in beef
steaks can be known as a steakhouse. Special steak
knives are provided along with steak. Steak knives are sharper than most table
knives and are usually serrated. Prepared condiments known as steak sauces are
generally on the table in steakhouses.
The amount of time a steak is cooked is a personal
preference; shorter steak cooking times retain more juice, whereas longer steak
cooking times result in drier, tougher meat but reduce concerns about disease. A
vocabulary has evolved to describe the degree to which a steak is cooked. The
following terms are in order from least cooked to most cooked:
Raw - Uncooked. Used in dishes like
Carpaccio, Gored gored
(a raw beef dish eaten in Eritrea and Ethiopia), and Kitfo
(a traditional dish, found in Ethiopian cuisine, that consists of minced
Blue rare or very rare - (46°C [115°F]
core temperature) Cooked very quickly; the outside is seared, but the
inside is usually cool and barely cooked. The steak will be red on the
inside and barely warmed. Sometimes asked for as "blood rare" or "bloody
as hell". In the United States this is also sometimes referred to as
'Black and Blue' or 'Pittsburgh Rare'.
Rare - (52°C [125°F] core temperature) The
outside is gray-brown, and the middle of the steak is red and slightly
Medium rare - (55°C [130°F] core temperature)
The steak will have a fully red, warm center. Unless specified
otherwise, upscale steakhouse will generally cook to at least this
Medium - (60°C [140°F] core temperature) The
middle of the steak is hot and red with pink surrounding the center. The
outside is gray-brown.
Medium well done - (65°C [150°F] core
temperature) The meat is light pink surrounding the center.
Well done - (71°C [160°F] and above core
temperature) The meat is gray-brown throughout and slightly charred.
Overcook - (much more than 71°C [160°F] core
temperature) The meat is dark throughout and slightly bitter.