Salt-aged steak is an exceptional culinary dish that will tantalize your taste buds.
It’s an old-world method of aging beef, where the meat is dry-aged in salt for several weeks to create an intensely flavorful cut of steak.
This article will explain what salt-aged steak is and why you should try it yourself.
Then, we’ll answer related questions on preparing the perfect salt-aged steak for a truly unforgettable meal.
What Is Salt-Aged Steak?
Before we get into the meat of the article, it’s important to understand salt-aged steak.
There are various methods for aging steak, which simply means allowing the steak to age (or mature) to develop a more intense flavor. Salt aging is one of these methods, in which the meat is covered in a salt or a salt mixture before the aging process begins.
Salt dehydrates, or dries out, the steak. The beef’s natural brine and flavors are concentrated as water is extracted from the steak, intensifying the flavor.
Here are six reasons that make salt-aged steak a deliciously unforgettable meal:
It Allows for Maximum Flavor Retention
Dry-aging beef in salt helps to reduce the amount of moisture lost during the aging process, allowing for maximum flavor retention.
This process also helps with tenderizing the meat, making for a softer, tastier, and overall more enjoyable experience when eating the steak.
Salted-steak is so good because of the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that occurs when heat is applied to the steak.
The salt helps to create an environment where the Maillard reaction is maximized, resulting in a more intense flavor.
It Creates a Unique Umami Flavor
Salt aging also creates a unique flavor profile, often referred to as “umami.” This flavor is a savory, meaty taste that lingers on the palate.
The reason salt-aging makes steak more savory is that it helps draw out the natural juices of the beef, resulting in a richer, bolder flavor.
This type of steak is perfect for those who want a steak that’s not only flavorful but also has an interesting, unique, and highly memorable taste.
Enhances Aroma and Taste
Salt aging not only retains and enhances the steak’s flavor but also retains and enhances its accommodating aroma.
Aging with salt helps to bring out the natural aromas of the beef, resulting in an even more inviting and pleasing fragrance.
The relationship between taste and smell is complex, but we all know that when we lose our sense of smell – say, from a cold – our sense of taste gets a hit too.
That said, when the aroma of a dish is enhanced, it ends up tasting that much better as well!
Helps to Add Depth of Flavor
Now that we’ve discussed retaining, enhancing, and defining the flavor, let’s also discuss the depth of flavor.
When chefs talk about the depth of flavor, what they mean is the complexity of flavor.
Salt aging helps to add depth of flavor because it creates and draws in brine by capillary action, then denatures the proteins as it moves deeper into the meat while aging.
All of this means that once it hits the pan, the steak develops a more complex, intense flavor.
Allows for an Easier Cooking Process
Flavor aside, salt-aged steak is often easier to cook than other types of beef.
Since the meat has already been tenderized by salt, there is no need to use additional techniques such as pounding or marinating. This makes for an even more enjoyable cooking experience.
Of course, if you still want to tenderize the meat further, you can always opt for a more intense dry-aging process or carry on with your normal pounding and marinating techniques.
Results in a More Tender Steak
Finally, salt-aged steak helps to create a significantly more tender steak. It seems counterintuitive since salt is drying out the steak.
But as the beef ages in salt, it breaks down the muscle fibers, resulting in a softer and more tender steak.
This type of beef is perfect for those who want the full flavor and texture experience of a premium steak instead of having to chew for hours on end.
Should I salt aged steak?
Yes, aging steak with salt has various benefits when it comes to the results of the steak. It can help retain, maximize, and deepen the flavors and aromas of the steak for a delicious contribution to any dinner.
Should I pre-salt a dry-aged steak?
If the steak is already dry-aged, you may be wondering if you need to pre-salt it before cooking.
The answer is no; you don’t necessarily have to because the dry-aging process will have already tenderized and seasoned the steak.
However, if you choose to do so, you will end up with an even more flavorful steak. Many people still choose to generously salt their dry-aged steak before cooking it just like they would any other steak.
How long do you salt a steak?
You can leave the salt on the steak for as long as you would like to age it. Thirty days is usually the sweet spot when it comes to aging beef.