Meat lovers should learn more about the meat cooking process. It takes beyond just choosing the meat cut to get a portion of juicy and tender meat steak or other kinds of meat dishes. It involves how to cut against the grain to get a better meat-eating experience that won’t break your teeth.
You’ve probably heard that quite often. Thus, here is the compilation of the steps plus tips and tricks to do it the right way.
The Meat Grain, Its Role, and the Cutting Factor
When you examine a portion of meat cuts, you’ll notice the presence of thick and thin white long strands that are spread throughout the meat. These white lines are actually the muscle fibers of the animal, also known as fascicles, which provide support for their movement. The direction of these muscle fibers is what we refer to as the meat grain.
Now that you understand the original function of the muscle fibers, you might be wondering why it is important to make perpendicular cuts when slicing meat. Well, this step in the cooking process plays a crucial role in determining the texture of the meat you’ll end up with. In addition to selecting high-quality meat cuts, proper handling is equally important.
By cutting against the grain, you can spare your teeth from excessive work during chewing. But why is that the case? If you cut the meat parallel to the grain, the resulting texture will be chewy rather than tender. In this scenario, your teeth will have to work harder to break down those muscle fibers while eating.
However, when you cut the meat against the grain, you effectively shorten the length of the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender meat texture. Furthermore, this cutting technique helps retain the natural juices within the meat, providing a more flavorful experience.
Several Factors That’s Important In Cutting Against The Grain
1. The Grain Direction is Not Always The Same
You might assume that all meat cuts have the same direction of muscle fibers. However, that is not the case at all. The orientation of the muscle fibers actually depends on how the butcher initially divides the meat.
For instance, a portion of flank steak may have grains that run vertically from top to bottom. In other cases, you may come across cuts where the muscle fibers are aligned from left to right. Therefore, it is essential to familiarize yourself with different meat cuts in order to gain a better understanding of the directions of the meat grain.
2. The Meat Thickness
Besides cutting against the grain to get that tender texture you want, you also need to consider the thickness of the meat slice. Opt for thin slices rather than thick ones and you will get an even shorter length of muscle fiber to eat.
5 Fundamental Steps on How to Cut Against the Grain
Now that you have a basic understanding of the meat grain, it’s time to follow step by step preparing your juicy meat before your meal.
Cooking Utensils You Should Prepare
Cutting board, knife, fork, cooking towel.
You can choose any cut of raw beef based on your needs and preferences. For beginners, it is recommended to start by practicing with tougher cuts of meat.
Preparation and Cutting Execution Steps
1. Before handling the meat, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands. Ensure that both the utensils and the environment are clean and safe enough for processing raw meat.
2. Place a suitable length of a cooking towel on the cutting board. Unpack the meat and place it on the towel. In this initial step, use the cooking towel to pat dry all parts of the meat.
3. Once you have dried the meat as best as you can, remove the used cooking towel and place the meat back on the cutting board. Now, identify the directions in which the fascicles spread all over the meat.
4. Once you have identified the grain, position the meat parallel to the long side of your cutting board. This trick will provide better guidance when cutting.
5. Ensure that your cutting knife is positioned perpendicular to the meat so that you can cut the slices across or against the grain properly.
Beginners may have more questions concerning tips and tricks to cut against the grain. Here are several tips you can try depends on the meat condition :
A. Tips on How to Cut Against the Grain After Cooking the Meat
Once the meat is cooked, regardless of the cut, it becomes harder to see the grains compared to when it is in its raw condition. However, here are some tips to follow:
1. Place the cooked meat on your cutting board. Trim any visible muscles on the meat’s surface, as well as any excess fat.
2. Thoroughly examine the meat to find the grain. Be careful not to confuse the grain with grill marks, which are usually darker in color and only represent cooking lines.
3. If it’s difficult to identify the grain, use the analogy of how a bundle of dry spaghetti looks from a bird’s-eye view. With that in mind, try to look at the outer side of the cooked meat to find the grain and slice it thinly. If you encounter small groups of tissue bundles in the cut, it means you have cut it across or against the grain.
But, if you see long streaks instead, that means you have cut parallelly aligned with the grain. Since it is only a thin slice, you can rearrange the cooked meat and continue cutting against the grain for the remaining slices.
B. How to Cut Against the Grain For Raw Meat Cuts
Rib-eye, short loin, sirloin, and tenderloin are known as tender cuts of meat. Despite having weak muscles, these cuts still have grains, although they may be more difficult to identify.
The most important tip is to identify the grain while the meat is still raw. The appearance of the grain is clearer and cleaner at this stage. However, it’s worth noting that tender cuts like sirloin will still have a tender texture regardless of how you slice them.
Is Cutting Against The Grain Applied Only For Meat Steak?
Actually, yes. Regardless of the type of meat dish you want to cook, it is better to implement this technique. This also applies to Indonesian dishes that incorporate beef as an ingredient, such as rendang or gepuk.
Once you have prepped the meat, do not forget to cook it with the proper spices to enhance the flavor and make it even more delicious. You can choose one of the instant spices from Nyahtewel for a more convenient cooking process.
- How to identify which way the grain runs in meat?
Identify where the direction of the white long strands goes across the meat.
- What is the meaning of cutting against the grain?
Cutting against the grain is slicing the meat through or across the direction of the muscle fiber you identified in the meat.
- What type of cut goes against the grain?
It’s easy to notice and find the grain in tough meat cuts from the outer and lower parts of the animal, such as brisket, chuck, flank, hanger, and shank. However, for tender cuts like those from the rib, short loin, and sirloin steak, the grain will be less visible.
- What happens if you cut along the grain?
If done this way, you’ll get a more chewy meat texture to eat.