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Is "flank steak" not a steak?

I had someone tell me tonight in no uncertain terms that flank steak isn't steak. Is that true? (They said it's "just beef"....) And what's the definition of "steak" then?



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  1. It most certainly IS a steak. Considering the definition in most dictionaries just calls for essentially "a piece of meat" it most certainly qualifies.

    Let said person be unaware of the bliss that can be had with a flank or skirt steak for more than half the price of their "Filet Mignon Fajitas"

    Every cut of meat has its purpose and culinary strength. Your friend's just an idiot... He'll probably just put 57 on it anyways. Relax.

    That's like people that come to your house for a cookout and throw a fit when the steak you give them isn't cooked to their exact temp. I'm a restaurant worker-slave and have spent my fair share of time on the grill (and I like to think that I know what I'm doing), so one person's eccentric behavior usually gets them a pre-printed google map with directions to the nearest steakhouse (where they've most likely sent a few steaks back that they were actually PAYING for, probably just as unwarranted) Usually it's taken well, a little joke between friends, but once it caused a rift which I really don't regret because who really ends a friendship because his wife's steak was undercooked? (I really can't make this up, the kicker was it was at my house and I bought ALL the groceries.)

    For the record, I always order med-rare, but I have had an exceptional steak that was just about medium-well maybe even above it, and a wretched one that was cooked to the exact temp.

    2 Replies
    1. re: abuller103

      Wow. Ending a friendship 'cause bud's wife's steak is undercooked? Sounds like your bud is either an entitled, selfish, narcissist (or his wife is and impels him to do her dirty work). I've been served all sorts of horrible meals in peoples' homes and would never think to say anything about my meal; especially if it's steak. I have enough trouble sending something back in a restaurant.

      I think your pre-printed google map of local steakhouses is a brilliant idea! I'm only sorry for you that you were impelled to make them because of the frequency of whiners at your grill-parties.

      1. re: abuller103

        Wow! Luckily my butthead was a guest, not a friend, so I could just ignore them!

      2. flank in almost every sense of the word is steak except in the 'easy' sense - the only way i end up eating flank is when somebody buys it by mistake. if it was bought at the village butcher, i go back and have them run it thru the circular slicer for wafer thin slices - super hot peanut oil and thirty seconds, shredded ginger, sesame seeds, honey, oyster sauce, serve over asian angelhair or steaming rice: faux-yukiyaki, DONE!

        ofcourse i prefer bottom round for this method.

        1 Reply
        1. re: epabella

          wow that sounds amazing. i didn't even know i could get my butcher to do that

        2. They must be employing a technical definition of steak that is a thickish slice of a longer integral cut of meat.

          It's a nerdy point, not worth making unless one is teaching butchery.

          1. We use flank steak in the Chinese restaurant for stir-fries all the time. But sometimes when they're trimming and slicing up the nice flanks, I'll take a hunk about 2-3 lbs and marinate in olive oil with onion and bay leaf for about two days. Then that sucker goes on a hot griddle and cooks on one side; when it's time to do the other, I add onions and mushrooms to the griddle (sometimes peppers, too) and cover the mess with black pepper. At the last minute I make thick slices... right on the griddle... and insinuate all the meaty/oniony/mushroomy goodness that's been going on right into the meat. Finish with a little butter, lift-off and serve!

            10 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              Flank Steak,,,a favorite
              Cut in 2 inc wide strips the length of the steak (with NOT across the grain.
              Roll in a pinwheel around a large pineapple chunk
              Marinate in teriyaki
              Grill til medium rare

              Great steak rollups!

              1. re: bagelman01

                Back in the '50s and '60s, flank steak was my dad's go-to, serve-to-company, make-it-on-the-Weber meal. He'd marinate those babies in a mysterious combo of beer, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and who knows what else, sear them mightily, then serve them rare, sliced diagonally across the grain. It was his "signature dish", and was a relatively inexpensive way to serve "steak" to a crowd. Left-overs went into a cold salad with thinly sliced onions and capers the next day. I can still see him, in his plaid shorts and socks pulled up high, dousing those puppies on the grill with extra beer from the bottle in his hand -- take a sip, douse the steak, take a sip, douse the steak.. He used to refer to it as "London Broil", and that's what I called it for years until I saw a very different cut of meat called LB. And now flank steak ain't so cheap!

                  1. re: PattiCakes

                    Your dad knew whereof he spoke; flank was the traditional piece used for London Broil. He cut it that way because it's tough and chewy if you don't. If you ever find an old copy of "Joy of Cooking" at a garage sale, the recipe for LB will indicate flank.

                    Totally agree on your last point. Ribs used to a cheap cut. My dad told me of his navy days, when pulling into port (early '50s), he could get a "bucket" of shrimp for a quarter. Chicken wings used to be cheap until that night at the Anchor Bar.

                    I live in an area where there's been a huge influx of Chinese over the last few years. The places that had fish tanks used to sell off fish heads at $0.29/lb. Not any more - $2.50 baby!

                    1. re: FrankD

                      My mom used to coat a flank steak with garlic butter and grill it medium rare, that was London Broil. It pisses me off to see other cuts of beef masquerading as London Broil.

                    2. re: PattiCakes

                      jfood's parental units would soak both a flank and an LB in wishbone italian dressing all day in a tupperware bin. then one of them usually father would kill the sucker on the grill, causing flames to shoot everywhere, burning the crap out of the outside, either serving the inside beet red or dull gray depending on his mood. Neither was very tasty.

                      needless to say that wishbone italian dressing has never crossed into casa jfood and he cringes every time he sees a poster tell how wonderful this "family secret" method is.

                      1. re: jfood

                        ROTFLMA at the image of the flames shooting up! My dad's beer marinade concoction did the same thing. If he hadn't been bald already, it woulda singed his hair off.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I completely had forgotten about MY moms Wishbone Italian dressing marinated London Broil!!

                          I used to actually love it as a kid!
                          I thought it was tasty and fancy!

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        My mom used to butterfly a flank steak, fill it with Pepperidge farms stuffing, roll it up, grill it (dad did that part), and slice it and call it Mock Duck- not sure why, but it was pretty damn good.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          Flank steak, Pepperidge farms stuffing for herbs and to catch the juices, grilling...Brilliant. I can taste it now and I just finished my supper!

                    3. I'm thinking maybe your friend doesn't consider it steak because it's usually served sliced, rather than a whole piece of meat to each diner?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: johnlockedema

                        ...and cooking a very large steak and serving it sliced is precisely the traditional method! Individual steaks were generally restaurant food. In a family setting, one did not have *A* steak of one's own, but was served a portion of a dish called beefsteak. There are still quite a few steak houses wherein some steaks are cooked for two or more to share. Around this house, we'll split a big porterhouse or Spencer steak when we can get one; our more typical steak dinner is a flatiron cooked on the grill and sliced, from which I'll save a bit to slice thinner and sauté quickly for steak-and-eggs on Sunday.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I agree; I'm not one to tell Peter Luger's or an Italian enjoying his bistecca alla Fiorentina that it's not a steak because it's served sliced. I was just trying to get into the mind of Susan's friend.

                          1. re: johnlockedema

                            I think you may have done that. I was just pointing out that he is wrong ;-)

                      2. This is just logomachy.

                        Tell your friend if she doesn't want her "steak" then you'll gladly take care of it for them.

                        1. that's the same idiot who would poke you in the ribs when you order a single malt for dessert and ask you why you're ordering a chocolate skake.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            I'm so glad to read all these replies... guess I'm not a steak purist!

                            1. re: waldrons

                              waldrons, I do NOT think a true "steak purist" is one who insists on the one-steak-per-plate model as though it were the only valid one, but the one who accepts the definition of STEAK as simply fried, grilled or broiled meat, cooked with minimal fuss and seasoning, and served unadorned in plated portions, whether as cooked or cut from a larger piece.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                You got me thinking. What's a "salmon steak"? It's a single serving of salmon, as opposed to an entire side, right?

                                When I think about beef, and forgetting all the ground cuts, what are the choices in North American butchery terms? Roasts, steaks, brisket, ribs, maybe the plate? (OK, Oxtail!) What's a prime rib steak? Isn't it just a single bone of a PR roast? What's a blade steak? Just a cut off a blade roast.

                                But I think the cooking method counts for something. When I cook a steak, regardless of whether it's fried, grilled, or broiled, it gets flipped. When I cook a roast, it doesn't. And to me, that's the big difference.

                                Unadorned? Steak Oscar has a lot of adornment, but it's still a steak. Chateaubriand may be a beautiful thing served in little slices, but it's a roast. I haven't thought this through fully, but that's how I feel.

                                1. re: FrankD

                                  Typically a fish steak is a cross cut, about a inch thick, that includes part of the back bone. This in contrast to a fillet, which is one side, with a minimum of bones. Portion size isn't an issue, since that depends on the size of the fish. Plus a fillet can be cut into single portions before cooking. The salmon steaks that I buy are enough for 2 of us.

                          2. Unlike the rest, I think that your friend's remark makes perfect sense. I would not think of a London broil as a steak or a skirt steak. I love flank steak but think of it as a cut of beef prepared and used very differently from NY strip, tenderloin filet, ribeye, etc... It is not even so much the fact that we slice it to serve, because I do that with some large steaks as well. I think it doesn't go into the steak category of my brain because I marinate it and have to cut it on the bias.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kater

                              Flank Steak is a recognized cut of beef by the NAMP (North American Meat Processors Association) ~~~ London broil is not a cut of beef but rather a cooking method ~~~ Flank steaks can be used to make London Broil, as can Top/Bottom round, Top Sirloin, etc. HTH


                            2. Why did no one simply do this?

                              Main Entry: steak
                              Pronunciation: \ˈstāk\
                              Function: noun
                              Etymology: Middle English steke, from Old Norse steik; akin to Old Norse steikja to roast on a stake, stik stick, stake — more at stick
                              Date: 15th century

                              1 a : a slice of meat cut from a fleshy part of a beef carcass b : a similar slice of a specified meat other than beef <ham steak> c : a cross-section slice of a large fish <swordfish steak>
                              2 : ground beef prepared for cooking or for serving in the manner of a steak <hamburger steak>

                              Looks like according to 1:a, a steak is technically just about anything. Anyone who says otherwise needs to state their reference.

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: Jemon

                                Gods above, when we have to publicly post that for a dinner party I hope I get struck by lightning- or my guests do.

                                That just takes all the damn fun out of having a party.

                                1. re: Jemon

                                  jfood can't wait to see the wrath of posters jumping all over #2. A hamburger steak? Not comfortable.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Isn't "hamburger steak" a contradiction in terms?

                                    Just sayin'....

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      If you understand what what phrase means, does it matter whether some aspects of the two words clash?

                                      While the prototypical hamburger includes the bun and ground meat patty, here the reference is to just the ground meat patty. While a prototypical steak is something like a TBone steak (again a phrase), the reference here is to typical thickness of a steak (though that varies widely), and how it is served (stand alone, without a bun, etc).

                                      Some people think that words have strict definitions, with well define boundaries. I think in terms of prototypes and extensions. What do we think of when we use the word 'steak' by itself? The animal? the cross-cut? the manner of cooking? the thickness and serving size? how it served? All may apply to one item; one or two to another.

                                      When someone claims that flank steak is not a steak he is probably think of a cross-cut piece of the loin that is cooked whole, and SERVED whole. Flank isn't from the loin, it isn't cross-cut, and it is not served whole. It is a 'steak' only because it is cooked rapidly to rare or medium rare.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          Sorry folks. My comment was in jest.

                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                            jfood agrees w you. "hamburger steak" is a silly combination.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Do you have a better name? Salisbury steak? Except the latter has a known origin and USDA specifications. It was invented in the late 19c as a health food.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                "Do you have a better name?"

                                                Yup...how about hamburger!!! sounds catchy, doesn't it? it is not a steak.

                                                And calling it a salisbury steak, unless it is a cut from an animal or fish called a salisbury is as silly as a pig in a Bergdorf dress with make-up and lipstick and thinking it would make a good VP.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Doesn't hamburger imply the use of a bun? The Salisbury in this case is a proper name, the name of doctor who promoted it as health food. Apparently he was an early believer in a low carb diet.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    and wanted as little fat in the meat as well. Hey what would expect from a dr who "believed that vegetables and starchy foods could produce substances in the digestive system which poison and paralyze the tissues and can cause heart disease, tumors, mental illness and tuberculosis"

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Hahaha, jfood, then they can argue with the Merriam-Webster people!

                                        1. re: Jemon

                                          hey...would not be the first time...remember jfood grew up in NJ, home of many a word that MW does not believe in.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Haven't youz guys ever had Tube Steak?

                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                              On the grill?....Oh yes! Quite tasty!!! :)

                                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                                a double plz on an italian semi circle roll after deep fried with potatoes onions and peppers like this from jfood hometown.


                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  It figures it's from Joisey (grin). That looks soooooo good.