• BEEF
  • FISH
  • LAMB



    Level of Doneness

    Diners normally have a choice to specify how they would like their steak to be done. There are basically five levels of cooking specification commonly adopted by most restaurants. The standard choices are; rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well or well-done.


    STEAK - Rarea) RARE: The steak is only cooked briefly in high heat. The meat is minimally cooked and would still be red in the middle. Some of the meat fibres in the center of the steak are still firmly bonded together. Juices are red with traces of blood.




    STEAK - Medium Rareb) MEDIUM-RARE: For those who prefer a ‘half-way’ between a rare steak and medium steak. The steak is pinkish-red in the middle. Juices are reddish in colour and may have little traces of blood.





    STEAK - Mediumc) MEDIUM: The steak is cooked till most of  the connective tissues between muscle fibres have just broken down. The steak is nicely pink in the middle. Juices may still have a little reddish-brown tinge.





    STEAK - Medium-Welld) MEDIUM-WELL: The steak is actually completely cooked but still retain a little pinkish colour in the center core of the steak. Juices are clear and do not have any reddish tinge to it.





    STEAK - well donee) WELL DONE: The steak is fully cooked till it turns completely gray.








    How Well Should Your Steak to be Done?

    One of the most debatable issue when it comes to the topic of cooking a perfect steak is how well should a steak be cooked. Everybody have their favourite preference.


    I personally feel that  the choice should take into account the cut of the beef. As mentioned earlier, in the previous article “How to Choose the Right Cut of Beef”, different cuts of beef have different characteristics. Some cuts have fine  and delicate muscle fibres while others are dense and coarse. Some are lean while some have more connective fatty tissues.


    Muscle fibres of most meat are firmly bonded together when the meat is raw. Try tearing apart a raw piece of chicken breast. It is quite difficult. But if you cook it for just 5 minutes, you can then easily tear it apart without much effort. When exposed to heat during the cooking process, the interconnective tissues between the muscle fibres breakdown and are easier to come apart.


    Different cuts of meat tend to require different amount of time for the interconnective tissues to breakdown during cooking. Therefore it is unreasonable to expect different cuts of beef to have the same texture when cooked to a certain ‘level of doneness’. If you chew on a piece of ‘rare’ Rump steak and then compare it with a ‘rare’ Tenderloin, you would realize the Rump steak is rather difficult to chew. Therefore, I prefer to select the ‘level of doneness’ depending on the cut of beef.



    Tenderloin Steak

    Tenderloin cuts are at its best when 'Rare' or 'Medium-rare'. Texture is soft and very tender. 'Medium' is still acceptable for those who are uncomfortable with rare beef. 'Medium-well' tends to be too dry and the texture is very coarse.


    Ribeye Steak

    Ribeye cuts are at its best when 'Medium' or maybe 'Medium-rare'. The slightly longer time on the grill enables the fat and interconnective tissues to break down and melt, giving it an intense flavour. If 'Rare' the fibres tend to still be a little chewy and the fatty tissues are not as flavoursome yet. 'Medium-well' are also acceptable for those who prefer them due to the higher presence of fatty tissues, but the texture will tend to be a little coarser.

    Striploin Steak

    Striploin cuts are best when 'Medium'. 'Rare' tends to be chewy. 'Medium-rare' is only advisable if the beef is of prime quality or a cut from a Wagyu.



    Sirloin Steak

    Preference is to have them 'Medium' or 'Medium-well' but best not to exceed a thickness more than 25mm thick. Using a mallet to pound it slightly would physically make it more tender.


    Rump Steak

    Preference is to have them 'Medium' or 'Medium-well' but heavily pounded with a mallet. 'Rare' would be very chewy (unless heavily pounded with a mallet).



    Round Steak

    Preference is to have them 'Medium' or 'Medium-well' but heavily pounded with a mallet. 'Rare' would be very chewy (unless heavily pounded with a mallet).




    If you like your steak ‘rare’ or ‘medium-rare’, then select prime cuts of beef like Tenderloin or good cuts of Wagyu beef. Tenderloins have fine muscle fibres and only requires a short amount of time for the connective tissues to breakdown. The meat is lean and does not have a lot of fatty tissues. When it is 'Rare' or 'Medium-rare' the texture is soft and very tender. Cooking a piece of Tenderloin to ‘well-done’ would give it a very coarse and dry texture.


    Ribeye steaks are at its best when it is ‘Medium’ or maybe sometimes ‘medium-rare’ if it is of prime quality. Ribeye steaks have a vein of fat running through it and its muscle fibres tend to have more specks of fatty tissues. When given sufficient time under high heat, the vein of fat and interconnective tissues break down and melts, thus giving the steak an intense flavour which earns Ribeye the reputation for being the best cut for making the perfect steak.


    Striploins or Toploin steaks, are best when it is ‘Medium’. 'Rare' tends to be chewy. 'Medium-rare' is only advisable if the beef is of prime quality or a cut from a Wagyu. It is best not to cut Striploin steaks to a thickness more than 38mm thick. Thick steaks should only be limited to prime cuts and prime quality beef.


    As for Sirloin steaks, it is best to cook them until 'Medium' or 'Medium-well' but thickness of the steak should not exceed more than 25mm thick. Pounding it slightly with a mallet prior to cooking would make it a bit more tender.


    For the other more affordable steaks like Rump or Round steaks, it is best to cook them until 'medium' or ‘medium-well’ but should be heavily pounded with a mallet prior to cooking. Thickness of the steaks should also not exceed more than 25mm thick.


    Nevertheless, we need to be reminded, the choice of how well to cook a steak is still a very personal preference. We cannot dismiss the fact that some people do actually enjoy the feel of chewing on a piece of ‘rare’ beef regardless of cut while some others find the coarse texture of ‘well-done’ beef more palatable. At the end, it is still the personal gratification we get feasting on a wonderful cut of meat that matters.