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A physicist’s tip for the perfect steak: microwave it

A kitchen scientist turned food author has a warning about using salt on meat
A kitchen scientist turned food author has a warning about using salt on meat - Alvaro Medina Jurado/Moment RF

Steak should be microwaved and never seasoned with salt, a physicist turned food writer has said.

George Vekinis, who has published books about the science involved in cooking, said that adding salt to steak could make it “tough” and “inedible”.

Speaking on the Instant Genius podcast, a show produced by the team behind BBC Science Focus magazine, he said that steak should be microwaved before being cooked rather than being cooked straight from the fridge.

The author of Physics in the Kitchen claimed that the “ideal” steak was medium-rare.

The research director and former head of the education office at the National Centre for Scientific Research, in Athens, said: “When I want something fried, I’ll make sure that first of all, salt must never be put on a steak before frying.

Salt must never be put on a steak before frying, says a kitchen physicist
Salt must never be put on a steak before frying, says a kitchen physicist - Lauri Patterson/E+

“Salt has this osmotic ability to drag out as much water as possible from the meat and you’re going to get tough and inedible.

“So, the first advice would be to never put salt on the meat.”

Mr Vekinis added that it was a “no no” to take the meat directly from the fridge and start cooking it.

‘Put in microwave for one or two minutes’

“Secondly, it’s always a good idea to heat the meat first in a microwave,” he continued.

“Put it in the microwave for one or two minutes - depends on the thickness of the meat - then you fry it quickly, a very short time, as short time as possible, just to give it that little bit of reaction on the surface.

“When I say short, I’m talking about a minute maximum.

“You take a steak or beef or whatever it is and you just fry it on both sides as little as possible.

“The temperature inside the meat should reach at least 55-60 degrees and that’s absolutely minimum.

“So, you get this slight aroma and pleasure of the taste.

‘Ideal meat is medium-rare’

“The ideal way of eating meat would be medium-rare, so it’s going to be slightly red and cooked on the outside.

“It’s not a bad idea to put a little bit of oil, even in the non-stick pans, but that’s, of course, personal preference.”

Mr Vekinis’s ideas seem to be at odds with the advice of celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, whose recipes call for cooks to generously season their steak with salt before cooking.

Jamie Oliver also suggests rubbing steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper before cooking them.

Physics in the Kitchen, published this year, explains the science behind a range of food phenomena, from why ketchup is so tricky to get out of the bottle to how nutrients diffuse when we cook.

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