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Jun 14, 2007 09:00 AM

Terrible flank steak

I love flank steak. Marinated, grilled to rare and thinly sliced crosswise. But the other night I made a flank steak that was simply un-chewable. I bought it at a large Asian supermarket from the meat counter. You'd think - you really would think - they would have good flank steak, wouldn't you? This one was big - maybe 2 lbs. Anyway, I did all the above and, even very thinly sliced, it was almost impossible to eat. Cold the next day it was even worse, making it useless for sandwiches. So what's up with that? Was it just a bad piece of meat? I've never had this happen before. Any idea what went wrong?

The dog's eating well this week.

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  1. I bet it was the meat. I love flank steak and cook it on a cast iron grill to med/rare. It's the most dependable cut of meat for me. London Broil, not so much. I don't think you did a thing wrong. Did it look a bit different before you grilled it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      that's b/c london broil is a preparation rather than a cut. so if you get 'london broil' from the store, it could be just about anything.

    2. Could have been the slice. Did you slice it against the grain and on a bias? If you cut with the grain or cut straight down it can be chewier/tougher. Also, was it cold when you put it on the heat? A cold steak will be tougher to eat, always let it sit at room temp to take the chill off of it. But it sounds like it might have just been a particularly tough steak too.

      1. Not all steer are created equal.

        If this is a meat that you have made in the past successfully, then it's definitely the meat. The tell-tale on this is the next day comment. if flank steak is preapred to the desired doneness and then placed in the fridge overnight, the next day should be perfecto.

        Not sure about your comment about an Asian market "must" having good flank steak. like saying all italian restos have good pasta. at least the pups is happy (always a good thing given jfood's avatar) and there is always another grocer to buy another flank steak and try again.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Ok - I guess it was the meat. I assumed that an Asian butcher would have good flank steak because it is so often used in beef stir fry. But this meat would have been a disaster in stir fry - you couldn't have eaten it at all. And while it wasn't super expensive, it wasn't dirt cheap either.

          Definitely sliced against the grain. As always. My only other suspicion was that it may have somehow been mixed up with a brisket by accident. They do look similar and while flank is delicious and tender when properly grilled, brisket needs long slow cooking.

          Oh well - the dog is REALLY happy.

          1. re: Nyleve

            I had the same thing happen to me last month. I usually get flank from Costco and never had a problem. I only know how to cook it one way - BBQ'd after marinating overnight. I noticed the Chinese supermarkets here in Markham had far cheaper flank and decided to give it a try. It was so tough and chewy, it finally went in the green bin. (No dog - only herbivorous guinea pig)

            1. re: mellie

              Were the meat fibers themselves tough, or membranes on the outside? Part of why I ask is that Asian stores sell a cut from this area that retains the 'skin'. Obviously this can't be grilled. Instead it is braised long enough to break down the connective tissues. The result is an interesting contrast of textures in a rich broth. 99 Ranch stores call this 'drop flank', and 'drop flank stew'.


              " 1. The preferred cut is brisket of beef, a boneless piece of tough
              meat from the underside of the steer, because of its rich, gelatinous
              texture when cooked. It is sold in Chinese meat markets as Chinese
              stew beef. Any tough beef cut can be used, such as boneless chuck and
              bottom round."

              1. re: paulj

                That's very interesting. It could very well have been what you describe. There was a bit of a membrane on one side. However, the fact is that EVERYTHING about the meat was chewy. I sliced it almost paper thin - you'd think it would be impossible for something like that to be tough but it was like putting a piece of rubber tire in my mouth. Very very strange experience. Clearly, this cut must have another way of cooking it - a long Chinese braise would probably have been what to do.

              2. re: mellie

                Hmm. I got mine at T & T in Thornhill. The store in Markham - it wasn't a T & T was it?

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Mine was chewy in all ways as well no matter which way or how thin it was sliced. It was from First Choice Supermarket which was formerly Big Land (Kennedy/14th) and labelled in English "Flank Steak".

          2. Its definitely just the meat. Sometimes you just get a poor steak.

            1. bad meat, perhaps the source.

              My advise get to know your local butcher, and skip the large supermarkets, asian, or otherwise., especially if they cannot tell the difference between cuts of meat.. shame on them.

              I go to a small family owned butcher shop that has been in business since the early 1900's. I always get great meat, and better service. Last week I wanted some meat for some beef kabobs I was making, and they had sold out by 3 p.m. when I went there. So the butcher said no problem, told me to go in back, and have a beer with the guys, and he cut up N.Y. Strip, Ribeye, Filets, and Sirloin to give me a great mix for my beef kabobs. The different cuts, and their textures and flavors made them excellent.

              4 Replies
              1. re: swsidejim

                Agree with most of what you say but, sadly, I live out in the boondocks where it's the IGA or nothing, meatwise. I do make pilgrimages to the city and pick up stuff for the freezer. But when you live outside of a city, there's not much choice - the genuine butcher is, for many of us, an urban myth.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Nyleve, How I envy you to be able to get flank steak at all. I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We have lived here for about 13 years and previously came from Toronto area. Well you know that flank steak is readily available in the Toronto area, but here nobody knows what it is. I have asked two large grocery chains (Loblaws Superstore and Sobeys ) if they can order it and it seems like an impossible request. I think I should ask if could set up a tasting stand in the stores and let the local people try Flank Steak. I know. I know, I should just dream on!

                  1. re: BJE

                    I totally understand. It wasn't so very long ago that you couldn't get flank steak around here either (in Toronto yes, but not in Peterborough). Now you can occasionally find it at Loblaws, but I've still never seen it in my little small-town IGA.

                    Because of all the Americans singing the praises of tri-tip, I've attempted to find it ANYWHERE. Nope. No one even knows what I'm talking about. I think I'll have to smuggle in a tri tip if I ever find it in the US.

                  2. re: Nyleve

                    I live 70 miles sw of Chicago, and luckily have a butcher shop in the town next to me, population about 10,000 people. They charge a premium, but they are worth it.