Cooking a steak is not rocket science, but it is more complex than simply slapping it on the grill right out of the package. The way that you season your steak is one of the crucial aspects of grilling the perfect piece of meat. The timing of your application of salt is important and not merely a matter of taste.
The point at which you salt your steak affects its moisture and the ease of developing an even sear, which most steak-lovers agree is important. To determine the best time to apply salt, you will need to keep the effect that it has on the steak’s water content in mind. Because of that effect, you have three options with regard to adding salt.
Table of Contents
- Option 1: Add the salt 40 minutes or longer before placing it on the grill
- Option 2: Season it just before it goes on the grill
- Option 3: Salt after removing steak from the grill
- What you should avoid
- Must-read related posts
Option 1: Add the salt 40 minutes or longer before placing it on the grill
Seasoning at least 40 minutes ahead of time allows the salt to extract the juices from the meat and to dissolve. Once dissolved to form a brine, the salt will coat the meat before it is reabsorbed. The brine will be drawn back into the muscle fibers of the meat and will both flavor and tenderize it.
The longer you let the salted steak sit past the 40-minute mark, the more of the brine gets drawn back into the meat. Evaporation of moisture from the meat will also result in the steak’s flavor becoming more concentrated.
Letting a salted steak sit on a wire rack in the refrigerator overnight allows the surface to dry out. The salt will turn the meat a darker color and tenderize it to an even greater degree.
Option 2: Season it just before it goes on the grill
The best technique for salting meat right before it is grilled is to season one side and place that side down on the grill, then season the other side. Be liberal with the salt. This method keeps your meat juicy since the salt stays on the surface and does not get a chance to dissolve. This produces steak with an even crust and that retains its moisture.
Option 3: Salt after removing steak from the grill
Salting after grilling is the method that many steak purists prefer. Those who season their steaks after grilling claim that it preserves more of the beef flavor and is therefore suggested for high-quality steaks. You simply sear the steak without seasoning it beforehand, then add the salt and any other seasonings after removing it from the grill. Using a very finely ground salt allows it to dissolve on the surface quickly.
What you should avoid
You should avoid seasoning your steak ahead of time but for less than 40 minutes. The salt starts drawing water from the meat within 5 minutes of being sprinkled.
Because all of those juices are removed, what will happen is that you dry your steak out and then place it on the grill without giving it a chance to reabsorb the moisture. All the juices will be on the surface so it will be difficult to sear it. The moisture will not be in the meat, so your steak will not be as juicy.
Must-read related posts
- What’s The Red Liquid In Steak? It may not be what you think it is.
- How Long To Let A Steak Rest After Cooking: Learn the right and wrong ways to approach this for the juiciest possible steak.
- How Long Do You Leave Steaks Out Before Cooking: There are optimal times here.