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Terrible flank steak

Nyleve Jun 14, 2007 09:00 AM

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.

  1. C. Hamster Dec 1, 2013 03:53 PM

    Why post a picture of me first thing in the morning on a thread about flank steak? ;-)

    C. Hamster

    1. t
      Tedng Dec 1, 2013 03:28 PM

      Drop flank is used for stews. Not stir fry. Stew it and the tendon and connective tissue soften and become delicious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tedng
        paulj Dec 1, 2013 04:22 PM

        A fuller description of this drop flank, or outside flank stew, with photos


        " Beef outside flank is a thin cut of meat from the cow with silver skin, which requires long slow cooking to become tender and is available at your local Asian market. The silver skin is an integral part of the stew, so it shouldn’t be removed before cooking! This cut of meat should not be confused with the more common beef flank or flank steak, which is used for stir frying."

        I've been asking about drop flank for several years, and finally found a good description and recipe.

        Beef cheek can be used in the same way, if it isn't trimmed free of the connective tissue.

        1. re: paulj
          simplycumin Jan 6, 2014 12:00 PM

          I'm very glad you guys revived this old thread. I bought some of this stuff at the Asian grocery for braise, but was confused because it was labled "flank".

          Now I know it's "drop flank".

      2. s
        sweetpotater Jun 17, 2007 10:20 AM

        I have had the same experience with flank steak from my Asian market (Han Ah Reum in Baltimore). Never bought beef from them again.

        1. s
          swsidejim Jun 15, 2007 07:35 AM

          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
            Nyleve Jun 15, 2007 09:25 AM

            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
              BJE Jun 15, 2007 09:44 AM

              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
                Nyleve Jun 15, 2007 02:20 PM

                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
                swsidejim Jun 15, 2007 10:02 AM

                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.

            2. e
              ESNY Jun 14, 2007 11:06 AM

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

              1. jfood Jun 14, 2007 10:18 AM

                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
                  Nyleve Jun 14, 2007 11:22 AM

                  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
                    mellie Jun 14, 2007 07:15 PM

                    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
                      paulj Jun 14, 2007 09:29 PM

                      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
                        Nyleve Jun 15, 2007 07:07 AM

                        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
                        Nyleve Jun 15, 2007 07:12 AM

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

                        1. re: Nyleve
                          mellie Jun 17, 2007 09:47 AM

                          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. sgwood415 Jun 14, 2007 10:10 AM

                    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. monavano Jun 14, 2007 09:35 AM

                      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
                        ashwood Jun 14, 2007 10:01 PM

                        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.

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