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Our food experts Fran Abdallaoui and Pamela Clark share their tips on cooking steak.
how to cook the perfect steak
Q I’m trying to master the technique of cooking the perfect steak. Can you share a few pointers? Mark Lumley, via email. It can be a bit of a challenge, but once mastered, you can assume the mantle of “king of the grill”. Before you even turn on the barbecue or char-grill pan, however, there are some important considerations. Purchase steaks of even thickness – about 2cm-thick is ideal. If your steaks are frozen, defrost them in the refrigerator for 24 hours or until thawed and then pat dry with kitchen paper to mop up any excess moisture. Take the steaks out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before you cook them. This raises the temperature of the steak, allowing them to cook more evenly, which stops the meat tightening, giving you a more tender result. If you are using a char-grill pan or frypan, it should have a heavy base. Just prior to cooking, brush the steaks with olive oil and season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper. Don’t oil the barbecue as it will burn and smoke.
Cooking the steaks
Preheat the pan or barbecue on high heat for about 5 minutes before adding the meat. This ensures maximum flavour – the steak should sizzle on contact. Don’t overcrowd the pan, as this reduces the heat and the meat will start to stew. Cook the first side for about 3 minutes or until browned and a nice crust has developed. You should see moisture (blood) rise to the surface. Turn the steak and cook on the second side until done as desired (to achieve cross-hatch char marks, turn the meat 45 degrees halfway through the cooking time on one side). Knowing when your steak is ready to be removed from the heat is the key to a perfectly cooked steak. Use either a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature or the back of your tongs to press the centre of the steak. For a 2cmthick steak, here are the guidelines: Rare Cook on the first side until moisture is visible on the top; turn only once (about 2 minutes on each side). Cook until steak feels very soft when pressed. Internal temperature should be 55°C-60°C. Medium Cook on first side until moisture is pooling on top surface; turn only once. Cook on the second side until the steak feels springy when pressed (approximately 4 minutes on each side). The internal temperature should be 65°C-700C. Well done Cook on the first side until moisture is pooling on the top surface. Turn and cook on the second side until moisture is visible on top (about 6 minutes each side). Reduce heat and cook until steak feels very firm when pressed. Internal temperature should be 700C.