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Sep 17, 2012 09:22 PM

FAKE STEAK????? STEPFORD STEAK? Why no juice at all in a nicely-seared medium-rare ribeye steak at a nice restaurant? WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO THE MEAT?

Can anyone explain this one? My sister and I ate at a restaurant in St. Joseph Michigan last night. We ordered steak. She ordered the 10 oz. filet. I ordered the 16 oz. rib-eye. It was a nice restaurant. We both requested medium rare. When the food arrived, the steaks looked beautifully seared. When I cut into the rib-eye, it appeared to be a nice medium rare to rare, warm red center, just as I had ordered. It was about an inch and a quarter thick. But the meat released no juice. The plate was dry! The meat was tender but dry. Same with the filet but that was slightly more understandable. My steak had a decent amount of marbling. I didn't expect perfection but what did they do to the steak? I've never seen a steak with no juice at all unless it was over cooked. I sent it back and they prepared another steak for me. Prettier than the first one but the same problem. When I sliced into it with my knife, it was just WRONG! Like a dead steak. Yes, I know. As a general rule, steaks are supposed to be dead. But they still have blood in them. Geeze. I love the juices that come out of a decent steak. It isn't necessary to go to a Gibsons, Smith & Wollensky, Mortons and others to get a nice steak. I can buy a cheap rib-eye steak at the grocery and after searing it and letting it rest, It releases plenty of juice. I thought maybe the steak needed to rest so I let it sit there with a tent over it. Nothing resembling juice accumulated under the steak on the plate.

How could this be? Is this a chemical thing? Where does one buy meat like this? Does the restaurant buy this stuff deliberately? Is it "cheap meat" that looks great, tastes okay but has no juice?

I took my steak back to the hotel to inspect it more intently under the light. It looked a little like a "fake steak" similar to those realistic but plastic meals that some restaurants in some cities in some neighborhoods display in their windows as examples of what the food looks like.

Could this steak have been deliberately dehydrated? But why? It didn't taste rotten. Improperly frozen?

Cannot wait to read your responses! My sister and I are just baffled. We are accomplished cooks and both worked in the restaurant business in the front of the house for years before we moved into our professions. This experience was a first for us.



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  1. Steaks aren't supposed to spill juice onto your plate if they've been rested to below 125.

    Yes, steaks are deliberately dehydrated, it is called dry aging, it is more expensive because of the time loss and weight loss. The cheap cuts at the grocery have way too much liquid still in them.

    This was probably an aged, properly rested steak.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen

      Maybe. But I live in Chicago and I have eaten more than a few outstanding steaks at the well-respected steakhouses old and new in our city. I know what dry aging is. But I don't think that is what I was dealing with. I have travelled all over the country for business and been lucky enough to enjoy some world-class meals, some of them steak. I just ate at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo in Chicago and it was amazing, right down to the lovely rib-eye in Oaxacan mole sauce. Every bite of the meat (not talking about the sauce) was juicy in my mouth. I know what you mean about too much water in the meat. I wasn't looking for a puddle on the plate. But I doubt if the steak last night was really properly aged, given the mid-range cost and the unremarkable quality. Thanks for your response, though.

      1. re: Willa

        It could have been a lower grade of steak, too. I've found that phenomenon in places that serve large, not expensive, ribeyes.

      2. re: jaykayen

        Steaks! There are so many possible variations.

        As you mention, dry-aged will not "bleed" that much, and when rested, as they should be, possible not enough to notice. Even a wet-aged, rested steak will not fill up the plate with juice.

        However, the steak, itself, should seem moist. If the OP's did not (could not quite tell, if the meat was dry, or just the plate), then there COULD be an issue.


      3. I've experienced this with steaks which had been previously frozen.

        1. This can happen with steaks that are vacuum sealed at room temp, then frozen. The blood/juice gets forced out of the meat. I found this out the hard way with some $27.99 lb rib steaks. I found out you have to freeze them first, then vacuum seal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            Thank you, everyone!
            My guess is that freezing had something to do with it, as well as a lower quality meat. I've never seen such a strange food item, though, except in windows of ethnic restaurants where they have artificial sushi or dim sum displayed that looks almost but not quite real.
            My brother in law is from South America and loves excellent beef. He has always insisted that frozen beef is an entirely different animal (sorry!) than fresh. I always thought he was exaggerating just a tad, but now I understand. The happy ending: My sister is at home right now with two beautiful steaks. She intends to grill them tonight, to get the bad taste of the fake-like filet out of her mouth. I'm invited! For sides, I'm thinking of a creamy cauliflower puree with whipped ricotta and creme fraiche, and braised rainbow swiss chard from the garden, with currants, toasted pine nuts, and lemon zest.

            1. re: Willa

              I have never had a problem freezing steaks. Been doing it successfully for decades. It's the vacuum packing before freezing that screws them up.

          2. It may have been vacuum packed cooked to rare and frozen for quick thaw and sear at the restaurant.

            2 Replies
              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                That's what popped into my head. A subpar sous vide steak finished on the grill?

              2. agree seems to have been frozen. also a steak "dust" could have been added which might absorb the juice. called steak dust to enhance flavor.