Chef Jason Atherton shares his secrets on how to cook the perfect sirloin steak, and make it into a magnificent meal.
Jason Atherton has worked with some of the toughest and most innovative chefs in the business. He clocks up a fearsome number of air miles each year keeping tabs on his restaurants in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as regularly manning the stoves at his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social in London's Mayfair and his four other London restaurants.
So, who better than an internationally acclaimed chef such as Jason Atherton to teach us how to cook the perfect steak.
Five things to look for when buying a steak
1. When choosing a steak, sirloin is a fine choice due to its tasty, melt-in-the-mouth succulence. Good sirloin has just the right amount of fat and nice marbling. Rump steak is slightly cheaper than sirloin but it’s still a great steak for griddling or frying, with more flavour than sirloin. However, it does tend to be slightly chewier, especially if it has not been matured properly.
2. Age of the steak is important, as the hanging process develops the flavour and tenderises the meat. So ask your butcher how long the beef has been hung for. As a rule, 21 days as a minimum and 35 days as a maximum is a good range to go for.
3. Good beef should be a deep red colour, like the meat featured below.
4. Check the beef has good marbling – little streaks of fat running through the meat. This melts when heated, helping the steak to baste itself from within as it cooks.
5. A good layer of creamy-white fat around the top of sirloin steaks is essential.
Five steps to cooking the perfect steak at home
1. Heat your griddle or frying pan over a high heat, until smoking hot.
2. Lightly brush the steak with a little olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Don’t griddle more than two steaks at a time, and keep them spaced well apart. If you add more than two steaks to the pan at once, the temperature will drop and the steak will stew, rather than fry.
4. Don’t turn the steaks until good seared markings are achieved, then turn them over and cook on the other side (see timings, below).
5. You must let the steak rest for about 3 minutes before serving, to allow the juices that have been drawn to the surface to relax back into the meat.
How long to cook a steak for
These timings are based on cooking a sirloin steak that’s about 2cm thick. (Cooking times will vary depending on the type and thickness of the steak, and how hot your pan is.)
Blue: 1 minute each side
Rare: 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
Medium: 2¼ minutes each side
Medium-well done: 2½ - 3 minutes each side.