Steak is a modern-day luxury. No matter where you go in the world, if you want to impress a date, a colleague, or just treat yourself to a nice meal, you may often find yourself in a steakhouse, or restaurant that specializes in steak.
If the restaurant knows what they’re doing, cares about you as a customer, and knows how to handle a steak, they will ask you, “How do you want that done?” or “How do you want that cooked?”
Now, I am from Texas. I wasn’t born there, but I have lived there long enough to know that how you answer this delicate question is essential to what kind of person you are, and believe me when I say, the people you are dining with, including the chef and waiter will judge your character by how you ask for that steak… I’m kidding, of course! Don’t worry too much about it.
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After all, it’s just a steak, and it’s your meal and your appetite, so you order it however it makes you happy… but you might still be judged anyway, especially if you’re dining with a Texan!
Nevertheless, here are a few tried and true ways you can order your steak depending on our preference and palette.
So, when the waiter asks, “How do you want that done?”, you have options.
You may respond with:
This is the most rare way to ask for a steak, and a little bit intense if you ask me. A blue steak is seasoned, and cooked just long enough to be browned and warmed just on the outside, but the inside will be bright red and well… raw in the middle.
Rare, in the steak world, means close to raw, or uncooked meat. The center of a blue rare steak won’t be very hot either, because it doesn’t spend enough time cooking, so it’s normal for the center to be a little cool when you order it.
This for me, is a little too much like a scene from The Revenant, and I prefer eating my meat a little more cooked when I’m dining out… or rather indoors, and not in stranded in the Montana wilderness.
Rare is a little bit easier on the palette, especially if you’re new to the steak world. It’s cooked just a little bit longer than a blue rare, so, a little less red, and a little warmer in the center. Still, though, the center will be about 75% red if cooked properly.
In other words, it’s still mostly raw. People who appreciate a good steak stay on rare or medium rare cooking styles because the meat holds the most of its natural juices and flavors.
This is a common option for steak lovers and appreciators. The steak will have a rare center but a thick brown crust, so you get a variety of textures and flavors.
The center will be about half rare, or red, and the steak will be warm throughout, so you know it got a little extra love on the pan or grill.
Medium is where rare and well-done steak lovers collide. It’s not too rare, and not too well-done. It’s the Goldilocks of steaks.
It’s more comfortable too for people who don’t really appreciate seeing too much rare or raw meat on their plate, with about 25% of the center still red.
The steak will also be a little firmer, a little less juicy, but again, if handled properly by the chef, it should still be tasty.
Now we’re entering into territory where your fellow diners, chefs, and waiters may begin to judge you for your choices.
This is for people who don’t want any red to their steak at all. The steak will be cooked a lot longer, and may only contain a little bit of pink, if even that. The steak itself will be firmer and have a dark brown, well-cooked crust on the outside.
This is the other end of the spectrum, a different extreme of steak consumers. This is the point of no return. If you receive your steak a little too rare you can always ask for it to be cooked longer.
However, if you ask for it to be “Well Done” from the beginning, and realize it has been overcooked, there’s no going back and reversing the process of the meat. This is the most cooked a steak can be done.
There is not red, no pink, but it is all served hot, and cooked well. Steak lovers debate at this point the steak is dry and overcooked, and some chefs agree it’s criminal to cook a steak this far.
However, I am of the opinion, along with many others, that a chef who knows what he is doing and knows how to properly handle a steak, will still deliver a very tasty piece of meat so you can enjoy this moment of luxury.
So next time you’re at a steakhouse, in Texas, New York, London, or wherever else in the world, you can confidently know and respond to how you want your steak cooked. Also, you are always free to ask the waiter for his or her opinion, and make a decision you crave the most.