What is a Tri Tip Steak?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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For those who enjoy barbecuing steaks without having to fork out huge amounts of money for good beef, the tri tip steak or roast may be the perfect solution. Cut from a section of the beef called the sirloin bottom that wasn’t really given a great deal of respect until recently, the tri tip steak is now quickly gaining in popularity. As is custom in the US and the UK, this section of meat has been used for steaks before, but taking the whole cut, which has a triangle shape, grilling, and then slicing it in thin pieces, is becoming the normal means of preparation.

If people have been to the grocery store lately to look at meat seasonings they may notice one or more rubs that are dubbed Santa Maria seasoning, especially if they live in other parts of California. Santa Maria is a mid-sized community in Santa Barbara County credited with tri tip steak fame for the way they would cook and serve the steak. Typically, the whole tri tip, which can theoretically also be called roast, is rubbed with special seasonings and placed on a low wood fire. Slow cooking helps grill in the seasonings and many suggest it results in a tender and deliciously flavored steak.


There are other ways to cook the tri tip steak, including more traditional grilling methods, oven baking, and broiling. Given the size of the whole steak, about a couple of pounds or more, pan-frying isn’t as realistic. On the other hand, the tri tip roast can be sliced into smaller pieces if pan-frying is the only means available.

When cooked in original fashion, people don’t sit down to eat a whole tri tip, and the term steak is something of a misnomer. Best methods for serving usually involve allowing the meat to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing it across the grain in thin slices. These slices are perfectly adapted to other types of dishes. For instance, grilled thin slices of tri tip can be delicious in fajitas, and are often prepared for this reason alone.

Given the general size of a tri tip steak, making one may mean coping with lots of leftovers. Sliced thin, the meat could make for delicious steak sandwiches the next day or the meat could be cubed and tossed into tomato sauce for a quick spaghetti dinner. Alternately, as continues to be the case with many denizens of Santa Maria, tri tip steak is frequently meant to be served at social occasions, where friends can gather, sharing not only delicious food, but the right to claim they invented the recipe.


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Discuss this Article

Post 2

@lokilove: Tri tip French dip is a sandwich in a lass by itself!

Post 1

For the longest time you could only find a Tri Tip cut of steak in the southern California areas. Thankfully more places are offering it. It really is a great cut of steak that when cooked properly is tender, juicy and well worth the extra time it takes.

Leftover tri tip makes a great French Dip sandwich, slice it up a bit smaller and it's perfect with cheese Fondue or Rough Mustard dipping.

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