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A steak is a cut of meat or fish prepared by a butcher and usually cooked with direct heat. Most types of steaks are beef, but some cuts of fish and pork also are referred to by this term. Beef steaks can be cut from almost any portion of the animal except for the shank and brisket. Some common types of steak include strip, T-bone, Porterhouse, filet mignon, flank, sirloin and round. More budget-conscious consumers may opt for cubed or mock tender steaks.
The most tender and expensive types of steaks come from the loin and rib areas and include the strip steak, T-bone, Porterhouse, filet mignon, ribeye and sirloin. Some cuts leave the bone in for extra flavor, while others are boneless. Many steakhouses in the United States offer these cuts and may age the beef for several weeks. These steaks can be cooked to a wide range of doneness but will usually get tougher the longer they cook. Chefs often prepare these types of steaks by grilling or broiling and may serve them with compound butter or a sauce such as Bearnaise.
T-bone, strip and Porterhouse steaks are similar cuts from the loin area. The T-bone and porterhouse include a bone and a section of the tenderloin. The strip steak, or New York strip, is usually a boneless cut with no tenderloin, while a filet mignon consists entirely of tenderloin.
Other types of steak generally come from muscles in the animal that are more developed and may not be as tender. Flank steaks cut from the underside of the animal fall into this category and are usually cooked medium-rare or along with liquid to help tenderize it. Asian and Latin American cuisines often feature this cut in fajitas or stir-fries, typically heavily seasoned. While this cut may not be as tender as some, it is generally less expensive per serving and retains flavor well.
Round steaks are cut from the hind portion of the animal and may be tenderized and cooked for longer periods of time to break down connective tissues. These types of steaks contain little fat or marbling. Round steak can be cubed by a butcher and served as Swiss or country fried steak.
Certain cuts of pork and fish are occasionally called steaks in restaurants and grocery stores. Pork steaks come from the shoulder of the pig and can be prepared by several different methods. Fish steaks are produced from a variety of round fish by slicing a cross section from the thicker parts of the body. These are often grilled or crusted and seared.