I used to feel cheap steak and expensive steak are quite similar. After I know more about steak, I start to be particular about the textures, the level of cooking and the pairing of sauce and wine. I realize that the difference in textures and flavours not only comes from the meat itself, but also the level of cooking, the pairing of sauce and the wine. If you want to taste steak like an expert, learn from the knowledge below!
肉质口感｜Cuts and textures
Different steaks comes from different cuts of meat from the cow, different cuts have different textures.
In fact, the textures of different cuts are affected by the amount of movement that the muscle of the cow makes, if the cut is in the fat layer and if the cuts is including bones. For example, Sirloin steak/New York Strip steak is cut from the short loin, which is the part of the cow that rarely moves. Therefore, the meat is very tender. Because this part of the cow is covered with a layer of fat, you can see a white layer of marble fat outside the steak. Therefore, Sirloin steak is usually a little fatty.
The cuts and textures of different steaks
生熟程度｜How do you like it cooked？
What on earth is the most appropriate level of cooking for a steak? In fact, this question is largely dependant on personal preference. The rarer the steak, the softer and gentler it is. The more well done, the firmer and harder it is.
Textures in different levels of cooking
东方人喜欢偏熟的不带血水的牛排，西方人则更倾向于生口，切开呈鲜肉色并渗出血水的原生口感。这里不得不提一下在吃牛上无比讲究，堪称世界牛肉研究的领头羊国家—法国的吃牛习惯。在法国，牛排一般是近生熟度（Blue)到三分熟 (Medium Rare)，法国大厨甚至会拒绝将牛排煮成全熟！他们注重的是对牛肉原味的追求。所以，如果你在法国点了一份肉质上好的牛排并告知服务员要全熟，切开享用时发现仍带血水。这很有可能只是因为大厨不想辜负一块好肉而已！所以，如果到了法国想像行家一样品尝一份特级的牛排，牛排越生风味越地道！当然，不鼓励为了显逼格而逼自己吞下一块血淋淋的肉哦：）
While Easterners prefer steak that is more cooked and without blood, Westerners enjoy steak rarer and less well cooked. Especially in France, steaks are usually served between blue and medium rare. Chefs in France will even refuse to do a very well-done steak, believing it will spoil the steak by making it too tough. They try to pursue the authentic flavour of the steak. If you are in France and order a good quality steak cooked well-done, you might cut it and find out that it is still pink inside. This is because the chef doesn’t want to waste good quality meat. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a premium steak like an expert, the meat should be cooked the rarer the better.
As they play supporting roles, the rule of matching sauces with steaks is based on personal preference. This is why when you are going to a restaurant, the waiters will usually ask you what sauce you would like to go with the steak. If you want to talk about the most common and classic steak sauces in western countries, you must count in the followings:
Common sauces for steaks
配酒｜ Wine pairing
The golden rule of pairing wine and meat is “red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat”! Basically, it is never wrong to have a steak with a bottle of red wine. The professional gourmet and sommelier try to seek the best match from tiny differences. On the basis of the steak textures and level of cooking, they will pair the steak with a wine with the right flavour and body to enhance and complement the steak. Pairing wine and steak is a complicated art.
先来看看牛排和红酒的基本搭配原理｜ Logic behind pairing steak and wine：
The tannin in the red wine will combine with the protein in the steak. This combination will weaken the fat of the steak and enhance its flavour. In other words, the steak’s fat and protein will weaken the bitterness of the tannin in the wine, which will enhance the fruity flavour of a red wine.
Obviously, pairing steak with red wine is about the tannin of the red wine and the protein and fat of the steak.
单宁为何物？怎样知道红酒中的单宁含量？｜What is Tannin? How to know the level of Tannin?
Bordeaux variety grapes are high in tannins. So wines made with grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Verdot and Malec and all found in Brodeux wines are high in tannins.
The higher the level of tannin there is, the more bitter and astringent it is. Simply speaking, steak with more fat should go with a more full bodied red wine with higher tannin levels, leaner steak goes with a lighter and medium bodied red wine with less tannin.
Recommendations of steak and wine pairings