I love the kind of dinner that you can cook without a recipe. The truth is, good cooking is more about technique than recipes and the best dishes are often the simplest to prepare. A properly cooked steak is case in point. With just a few ingredients and a single pan, you can cook a steak that’s as delicious as one you’d order in a high-end steakhouse.
The key is knowing how to pan-sear. Pan-searing is a classic technique in which the surface of the food is cooked undisturbed in a very hot pan until a crisp, golden-brown, flavorful crust forms. It’s the key to building flavor and texture in a dish. It also prevents sticking and gives your food a restaurant-quality look. Pan-searing is the absolute best way to cook a steak (salmon, too), and it also happens to be the easiest.
What you’ll need to Cook Steak on The Stovetop
When it comes to beef, the best candidates for pan-searing are boneless, quick-cooking cuts between one and one-and-a-half inches thick, such as NY Strip, rib eye or filet mignon. (For larger or slow-cooking cuts, like roast beef tenderloin with red wine sauce or beef stew with carrots and potatoes, pan-searing is usually the first step, and then you finish the cooking in the oven.)
How to cook steak On The Stovetop
To begin, pat the steak dry with paper towels. (Any moisture on the exterior of the steak must first evaporate before the meat begins to brown.)
Season the steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper; the seasoning will stick to the surface and help create a delicious crust.
Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it’s VERY hot. The best pans for pan-searing are stainless steel or cast-iron since they can withstand high temperatures.
Add the oil to the pan. You’ll know it’s hot enough when it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan.
Carefully set the steak in the pan, releasing it away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter in your direction. It should sizzle. (Use a pan that is large enough that it’s not such a tight fit or the pan will cool down and your food will steam instead of sear.)
Leave it alone! Avoid the temptation to peek or fiddle or flip repeatedly. The steaks need a few minutes undisturbed to develop a brown crust. (Don’t worry about sticking; the steaks will release easily when they are ready to flip.)
Flip the steaks when they release easily and the bottom is a deep-brown color (usually about 3 minutes).
Continue to cook the steaks for another 3 to 4 minutes on the bottom side for rare or medium-rare.
During the last minute of cooking, add 1 tablespoon of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan with the steaks (this is optional but delicious).
If you are serving the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve hot. If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes; then slice thinly against the grain. (Resting allows the juices to redistribute from the outside of the steaks; if you slice them too soon, the juices will pour out of them.)
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Follow our foolproof recipe for a restaurant-quality pan-fried steak in under 10 minutes. Serve with a simple steak sauce and a classic side like roasted potatoes. From the book Mad Hungry, by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).
- 2 strip steaks (each about 1 inch thick), room temperature
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- Simple Steak Sauce, optional
- Step 1
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) over high 5 minutes. Generously season steaks with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter to pan, then immediately top with one steak. Repeat with remaining 1/2 teaspoon butter and steak. Cook without moving steaks until a golden brown crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook 2 minutes more for rare, or 3 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice steaks against the grain; serve with sauce, if desired.
Heat a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Seconds before adding a steak, drop 1/2 teaspoon of the butter into the pan and immediately top with the steak. Repeat with the remaining steak. Sear for 3 minutes without moving the steak (to form a crust). Turn and cook for 2 minutes for rare or 3 to 4 for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the pan and let them rest on a board or platter for a few minutes before serving.
If you’re cooking to impress and only a tender, juicy steak will cut it, don’t be fooled into spending a fortune.
Beyond the much-loved fillet, sirloin, rib-eye and rump, there’s a world of underrated, good-value steaks that will seriously deliver on the flavour front.
Flank skirt, thick skirt and thin skirt are all delicious and definitely worth a try, but here we’re focussing on Jamie’s favourite – feather steak (also known as flat iron steak). Full of beautiful flavour, texture and fat marbling, feather steak is a good size to leave you satisfied. Ask your butcher to remove the tough sinew right in the middle of it, and you’ll be ready to go.
But first, there are a few guidelines to bear in mind if you want to cook the perfect steak, whichever cut you choose.
Before you start , get the steak out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature about one hour before cooking – frying or grilling it from cold will stop the heat from penetrating to the middle as efficiently. You also need to make sure your pan, griddle or barbecue is super hot before you begin – this will help to caramelise the meat, essential for a delicious crust.
During cooking , aim to cook your steak medium-rare to medium – any more and you’ll be left with a tough piece of meat. Turning it every minute or so will make sure you get a really even cook.
After cooking , leave it to rest and rub with a little extra virgin olive oil or butter for an incredible, juicy steak.
Remember these tips, and you’ll get great results every time. To make it even easier, follow these simple steps below.
HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT STEAK
- Rub the steak all over with a good lug of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- Add the steak to a hot pan, then cook for 6 minutes for medium-rare, or to your liking, turning every minute
- For more flavour, try one or a combination of the following…
- Halve a garlic clove and rub it over the steak every time you turn it
- Rub the steak with a knob of butter – the sweetness from the butter will make it taste divine!
- Or create a herb brush by tying woody herbs like thyme or rosemary to the handle of a wooden spoon and brush it over the steak every minute or so
- Once cooked to your liking, rest the steak on a plate that can collect all the lovely juices for 2 minutes
- Carve with a nice sharp carving knife, then serve with the resting juices drizzled on top
Everyone has their favourite ways to eat steak – with good old chips and a crisp, green salad, with pepper or horseradish sauces , or even a simple fresh salsa verde to cut right through it. Whatever you choose, we’re sure your lucky guest will love you for it.
If our step-by-step guide isn’t enough, let Jamie show you how it’s done:
Dairy cows and beef cows are farmed differently. Usually, beef cows are raised for meat until they’re one or two years old. Meanwhile, dairy cows will be farmed for much longer while they continue to provide enough milk. However, once a dairy cow stops milking the meat is rarely eaten.
Cooking a steak perfectly can seem overwhelming. Which type of steak? How long to cook? What about seasoning and pan heat?
I’m going to answer all of those questions, and more, to get you cooking steak like a pro!
Plus I’ve got some fantastic sauces to serve with your steak.
It took me a long time to figure out how to cook the perfect steak, consistently well, every time.
I’ve served up many overcooked, chewy steaks in our early dating days! For something that seems so simple, there are lots of variables, which can be confusing!
Now I’ve got great steak cooking under my belt, I’ve come up a no-fail, step-by-step plan, covering each of those variables, so you can be confident in the kitchen to cook beautiful, juicy steak.
📋 What do we need?
- Let’s start with the steak of course. I recommend a good quality thick (2-2.5cm cm thick) ribeye or sirloin steak with some fat running through it.
- Ribeye tends to have a chunk of fat in the middle and some smaller veins of fat (see image above).
- Sirloin just tends to just have the smaller veins of fat.
- We’re going to concentrate on those cuts, but I’ve also got a note on cooking fillet steak in the notes section of the recipe card.
🔪 How to cook steak
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
For a 2.5cm thick ribeye or sirloin, cooking to a MEDIUM level of doneness (more info further down the posts for different levels of doneness):
- After taking the steak out of the fridge to bring it too room temperature, we coat the steak in oil on both sides, then add plenty of salt and pepper on both sides of the steak too.
- Add the steak to a very hot pan – preferably cast iron.
- Cook for 4 minutes, turning EVRY MINUTE.
- During the last minute of cooking, add butter to the pan, plus a few lightly crushed, peeled garlic cloves and a couple of sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Baste the the steak with the butter during the last minute of cooking.
- Take out of the pan and leave to rest for at least 4-5 minutes before serving.
- If you like, you can serve with a delicious steak sauce (some ideas below), or top with some garlic butter.
👩🍳 PRO TIPS For the Perfect Steak
Type of pan:
Use a heavy-based frying pan (such as a cast iron) or a griddle pan. The retain the heat well, so the pan won’t go too cold when you add the steak to the pan. Cast iron pan also evenly distribute the heat, so you’re less likely to get hot spots, leading to uneven cooking.
Cook no more than 2 steaks at a time. If the pan is over-crowded, the heat will be reduced, meaning any liquid that comes out of the steaks won’t be able to evaporate quickly enough, and they’ll end up boiling instead of frying. That means no beautiful char, and therefore a lot less flavour.
Oil the steak:
Oil the steak, not the pan – this is so you get a nice even covering on the steak. You don’t have to worry about the oil not being hot when it goes on the steak. Our pan is going to be so hot, the oil will heat up instantly. Use a flavourless oil with a high smoke point – such as sunflower oil.
As well as the oil, we want to season the steak generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Some people say that seasoning with pepper before cooking will cause the pepper to become bitter, but I have never found that.
The key is to use freshly ground black pepper that’s a little bit coarse. Don’t use fine pepper powder – that is more likely to burn.
You can make the pepper very coarse if you prefer it that way (just bash the pepper in bag with a rolling pin). Personally, I use a pepper grinder, so it’s just a little bit coarse.
You may think you’re adding too much pepper to the steak, but the flavour of the pepper ‘cooks in’ to the steak as you’re frying it, so it won’t be overwhelmingly peppery.
I tend to look for steak that is around 2cm-2.5cm thick. Any thicker than that and you will have to adjust the cooking timings, and are at risk over overcooking the outside of the steak, whilst the middle remains undercooked.
Don’t go straight from the fridge!
Cooking a steak right from the fridge is a BIG no no.
We’re cooking the steak for a short amount of time to get that perfect outside char. We really don’t want the steak to still be cold in the middle when we get to the char stage.
Type of steak:
My recommendation in most cases is to go for ribeye or sirloin steak. Look for a steak with thin veins of fat running through it. This fat will render down during cooking, resulting in a tender, juicy steak.
Try to avoid steak that has a big vein of gristle through it. No one wants to bite into that.
Also, don’t be afraid if the steak has a lovely fat strip of fat on that outside. That fat will give the steak more flavour during cooking. You don’t have to eat it (but I always nibble on a little, because it’s rather tasty).
You can of course use other cuts of steak if you prefer, but they often need different cooking times and sometimes need finishing in the oven.
I have some info below (notes section of the recipe card) on cooking fillet steak – but that one can be trickier, as it’s a lot thicker and leaner than ribeye or sirloin.
Other types of steak include rump, T-bone, flat iron, Denver, skirt and flank. Let me know if you want to info on how to cook any of these cuts in the comments below.
Rather than cook one side until it’s perfectly browned (which can take a few minutes), then cook the other side for less time (so the steak isn’t overcooked), turn the steak every minute. This will help to ensure even cooking and char on both sides.
Rest the steak:
A good rule of thumb is to rest the steak for at least as long as you cooked it. This will allow the fibres to relax, and you’re steak will be juicier and more tender for it.
Rest on a slightly warm plate or wooden board.
Cooking times (for a 2cm-2.5cm thick Sirloin or Ribeye)
(Turning the steak every minute)
- Rare: 3 minutes total
- Medium Rare: 4 minutes total
- Medium Well: 5-6 minutes total
- Well done: 8 minutes total
Don’t forget to REST YOUR STEAK. Any juices that are left from resting the steak can be added to your steak sauce.
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This Steak Recipe is practically guaranteed to become one of your favorite ways to prepare steak! It’s so easy and the end results are simple yet so incredibly delicious. It doesn’t take much when you start with a good steak, just a bit of butter and garlic (and thyme if you’ve got it) and you’ve got a steak people will remember.
Perfect Pan Seared Steak
Out of just about any food steak was always one of the most intimidating things for me to cook. I don’t know what it was maybe the high price tag and how they can easily be overcooked but with a few simple tips (as mentioned below) steak can be a breeze to cook.
It’s one of my husband and kids favorite foods so I’ve been trying to cook it once a month and this method has been my favorite lately. I just can’t get enough of that crispy browned exterior and that rich garlicy butter!
Plus, I love that this method is one you can use year round, including when your grill is covered with snow in the winter.
How Do I Cook Steak?
- First start out by letting the steaks rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (this brings them a little closer to room temp to cook more evenly).
- Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want to let it get hot, preheating should take about 3 minutes if using a gas stove then more for electric.). I like to turn on vent fan above stove.
- Dab both sides of steak dry with paper towels then season both sides with salt and pepper (some people might recommend to wait until the end on the pepper because it can burn but I’ve never tasted burnt pepper).
- Place steaks in skillet and using metal tongs press down across top surface of steaks to ensure the entire bottom surface is making direct contact with skillet.
- Let cook until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes.
- Flip and continue to cook until steak is about 10 degrees away from desired doneness (see notes below for temps) approximately 3 minutes longer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add butter, garlic and thyme. Using an oven mitt grasp pan and tilt pan so butter pools to one side, spoon butter over steaks and continue to cook until steaks registers temperature of desired doneness, about 1 minute longer.
- Transfer to a plates, let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Tips for the Best Steak
- Start with a good quality steak. Prime or choice cuts, and this recipe works well with Ribeye or New York Strip (and go with boneless NYT says they cook more evenly, besides only a small portion would barely be flavored by the bone anyway).
- Use a cast iron skillet to cook the steak. This heavy pan will hold heat well, brown nicely and cook evenly.
- As with just about any recipe be sure to preheat the pan (and use the largest burner on the stove). In this case really let the pan it heat. This gives the steak a great sear. My gas stove takes about 3 minutes to preheat the pan whereas an electric stove may take upwards of 8 – 10 minutes. The oil should be shimmering, near smoking.
- Dab the steaks dry with paper towels. A drier exterior means a crisper exterior in the end.
- Don’t be skimpy with the salt and go for Kosher for more even seasoning.
- Don’t add butter until you close to the end or it will burn because of it’s low smoke point.
- Use an instant read thermometer to test the center temperature. No one wants an undercooked or overcooked steak. The recipe lists 3 minutes per side just to give you a general idea but you’d hate to spend good money on a steak only to have it overcooked. Plus that way you won’t have to cut into the steak to check the color before serving.
- Let it rest at room temperature 5 minutes after cooking before slicing into it. This will let the juices redistribute, so that way the juices won’t just end up on our plate.
Steak Doneness Temperatures:
Here’s a quick breakdown of the temperature to watch for for desired degree of doneness. (Picture-wise this is a great color chart HERE.)
Pan-frying is the quickest method of cooking small, very tender cuts of meat such as steaks. Browning the meat on both sides requires a very high heat, which then needs to be slightly lowered to cook the meat to the point desired.
. Pan fry a steak
Step by step
1 A guide to steak cooking times: The times given are guidelines only, as the length of cooking time varies according to how many steaks are being cooked, the type of steak, the degree of heat and the weight of the frying pan. For a blue or rare steak, keep the heat reasonably fierce for the whole cooking time. For medium-rare or medium steaks, lower the temperature to medium after the initial browning.
2 Rare: The fibres of the meat are not set through the central 75% of the steak.
3 Medium-rare: As for rare but a slightly paler colour and only 50% of the fibres are not set through the centre of the steak.
4 Medium: Pink in the centre with juices and fibres set.
A note on cooking the fat layer.
Steaks such as rump and sirloin have a fat layer around one side which adds flavour and moisture, although it can be trimmed away before cooking if preferred. If it is left on, hold the steak fat side down in the hot pan with tongs, to render and brown the fat before cooking the steak.
4 sirloin steaks, cut 2cm thick, or
fillet steaks, cut 2.5cm thick
Sunflower oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If the steaks have been chilled, remove them from the fridge and bring to room temperature about 30–45 minutes before cooking. Sprinkle lightly with pepper and salt on both sides, just before cooking.
- Heat a very little oil in a frying pan (it should just barely cover the surface of the pan) until hot and almost smoking.
- Brown the steaks quickly on one side, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for the required length of time, determined by how you like your steak cooked (see above). Turn the steak over and cook the second side for roughly the same amount of time. (The pan will still be hot enough to brown the second side.)
- With experience, it is possible to tell from the feel of a steak how well cooked it is. When blue, it feels very soft. It will become firmer as it cooks, feeling very firm when medium cooked. If you want to be certain, make a tiny cut in the fattest part of the meat and take a look, but not until you are fairly sure that the steak is ready, as too many cuts will mean loss of juices.
- Remove the steaks from the frying pan to a warmed plate and leave to rest in a warm place for 3–5 minutes. This is important as it allows the juices to be re-absorbed back into the meat. The steak will hold its heat for this length of time, so resting does not affect the final eating temperature.
A note on cuts.
The cuts most suited to this rapid method of cooking are those that are less exercised, and are therefore the most naturally tender. As with roasts, these are found in the area between the shoulder and back legs near the back bone, and include fillet, sirloin, rump and rib eye.
Season the steak one hour before cooking, using extra virgin
olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher or sea salt. Leave it at room temperature until cooking.
Open a window or start a ventilation fan, cooking in this method can produce a fair amount of smoke.
Put the pan over high heat, and leave it until it is extremely hot. Add 1T butter and 2T olive or canola oil to the pan and watch for the butter starting to brown.
Place the steak into the pan and reduce the heat to medium, cooking the first side for 4-6 minutes. Turn the steak gently with tongs, then tilt the pan and baste the cooked side with pan juices.
Cook the second side until it develops an even crust on both sides. Picking the steak up with tongs, quickly sear the edges.
“Cook To” Temperature Guide
Very Rare: 115-120 °F Medium: 138-145 °F
Rare: 125 °F Medium Well: 150 °F
Medium Rare: 128-135 °F Well Done: 160+ °F
Remove to a cutting board, and allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes, underneath an aluminum foil tent to retain heat. Serve on a warm plate
To make Au Jus, while steak is resting skim the fat off the pan drippings, then boil to reduce to ½ of the original. Pour over cooked steak before serving.
On The Grill
Season the steak one hour before cooking, using extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher or sea salt. Leave it at room temperature until cooking.
Brush each side with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.
Place the steaks on a hot grill and sear for 4-6 minutes, rotating 90° once to create criss-cross grill marks.
For a rare or medium finish, turn the steak over and finish cooking to the right temperature. For medium or more cooked, turn the steak over and close the grill lid to trap heat, then cook to your desired doneness (between 3-9 minutes, depending on preference and steak thickness).
“Cook To” Temperature Guide
Very Rare: 115-120 °F Medium: 138-145 °F
Rare: 125 °F Medium Well: 150 °F
Medium Rare: 128-135 °F Well Done: 160+ °F
Remove to a cutting board, and allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes, underneath an aluminum foil tent to retain heat. Serve on a warm plate
When you cook a steak you must begin with a good frying-pan.
There are shelves and shelves of frying pans available, all promising to make your home culinary meals restaurant-worthy, but the truth of the matter is, unless it is heavy or heavy-based you may as well toss it out with the steak you are about to ruin.
Heavy frying pans will heat steadily and evenly. They won’t warp after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and even though they cost a lot up front, they will literally last you a lifetime.
Just like a frying pan, not all steaks are created equal. Fortunately with steak, depending on your personal preference, a thick or thin piece can have equally satisfying results.
COOKING THINNER STEAKS
For your thinner cut of steak, heat oil in your heavy frying pan until it is hot.
Season one side of your steak well with salt. This will also help to develop a rich brown crust on your steak.
Put your steak salt side down onto the pan. There should be the gratifying sound of sizzling.
Now season the side facing you.
For a rare steak, a minute each side maximum. Medium rare, 2-3 minutes per side, medium to well done, 3-4 minutes and for a fully cooked piece of steak…..longer.
COOKING THICKER STEAKS
A thicker piece of steak obviously requires more cooking time, even if you are after a medium rare finish.
You will still need your frying pan to be hot, but at more of a medium heat.
There should still be a sizzle when you place your piece of steak down, but it will not be as dramatic.
If you pan is too hot, the outside will cook too quickly, or even burn, before the middle has a chance to cook.
RESTING THE MEAT
Finally, REST YOUR MEAT. This is such an important part of creating a perfect steak.
The results from letting your steak rest for about 5 minutes is worth it. The improvement in taste and texture is noticeable.
Your jaw will thank you for it.
There is a lot of talk about taking your steak out to let it rest at room temperature before cooking.
Some swear it makes a difference to the cooking and others swear that it doesn’t.
However, it is almost nauseating to think of cooking up a piece of meat that has been left out long enough to reach the same temperature as the room you are cooking in.
A suggestion is that you take the steak out of the fridge first, and then get your pan out ready for heating. At least in that way, the chill from the meat is gone and you can be secure in knowing you won’t get food poisoning.
SEASONING THE STEAK
Steak has an amazing quality where its natural flavor is enhanced when just seasoned just with salt.
If you want to get a bit adventurous, try mixing in some herbs with your salt before putting it onto your meat, (thyme and rosemary are excellent red meat herbs) or making a quick rub by adding some spices to the salt.
There are also some great marinade recipes out there to try also, check out the New Zealand Beef and Lamb website for some great recipe ideas
Kiwi people like their personal space and so do kiwi steaks. Don’t overcrowd your pan.
The temperature of your frying pan drops slightly with each piece of meat you cook and therefore needs to recover that heat.
The meat won’t sear or brown on the outside, nor will it cook through the inside how you want it to. Chances are it will start to leach out juices and you will soon be simmering your steak rather than frying it.
And the final, final note…don’t stress! A good steak dinner is comforting and satisfying. Cooking it should be too.
Frying meat is easy. Getting a perfect result can, however, be a lot trickier. All experienced meat chefs sy the same thing: Small details in handling make all the difference.
Before the pan
Always dry the meat before frying it, otherwise the surface will boil rather than sear. Don’t put too much meat in the pan to avoid (1) the pan loosing heat and (2) the meat cooking in its own juices.
Cooking causes connective tissue inside the meat to shrink. Cut away – or cut through – any visible membranes before frying. You can also make incisions in covering fat to stop the meat from bending or twisting due to the applied heat.
Some chefs prefer butter, which adds flavor and gives you hints about the temperature in your pan. Others use oil, which is not affected by high temperatures. Some use a mix of both. Butter and olive oil make a very tasty mix, but both of them go badly with high temperatures. Experiment in your kitchen and find your own truth.
In the pan
Wait for caramelisation to occur on the surface of the meat so that it comes loose from the frying surface all by itself. Carefully try lifting it. If it is still stuck, wait a little more. If it comes loose after a while, caramelisation will have occurred.
The distribution of heat will be more even if you use a lot of fat when frying – but make sure not to boil the meat in butter or oil. Unless the meat has been breaded, you don’t have to worry about the meat picking up fat. Breadcrumbs absorb large amounts of fat, while a coating of ordinary flour will result in a surface containing less fat.
Don’t flip the meat too often while frying, or the pan’s surface will take time to reheat over and over again. When juices start oozing out of the top of the meat it is time to flip it. Frying the second side always takes less time.
The heat takes 4 times longer to penetrate a slice of meat that is twice as thick. This goes for fish, potatoes and vegetables, too.
After the pan
It’s agood idea to let residual heat do the job in a warm oven and using a thermometer, not least if the cut of meat has some thickness. Thinner cuts will also turn out perfect if you fry the meat in a pan and then place the pan in a moderately hot oven. Keep watch using a thermometer.
To get an even internal temperature and a pefect result, let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes after cooking. In this phase temperatures and juices become evenly distributed and the meat is “unstressed” before serving. This is important when meat has been cooked at high temperatures.
This means what it sounds like, frying meat in a dry and hot pan. The result is a harder and more uneven surface.
Wok and sauteuse
Using a wok is the Asian version of using a sauteuse. Ingredients cut into equal sized morcels – which all take roughly the same short time to cook – are tossed and fried with haste in a pan with a rounded bottom. A “mise en place” with the pre-cut ingredients is a must, there is no time for peeling and cutting when the wok/sauteuse is in action.
A wok must be so hot that the meat sears and vegetables heat up quickly without going soft, that is why a traditional wok is good for only two portions – maximum – at a time.
Dry the meat. Heat up the pan first, then add the oil. Use a high temperature.The oil must be heat resistant, virgin olive oil will not do. Introduce the raw materials according to the time they take to cook, whatever takes longer goes first.
If it stops sizzling, take out the meat and wait for the pan to heat up again.
Maillard for flavor
Creating a seared surface in a pan, in the oven or on a grill gives rise to more and bigger aromas and flavors. They are produced when proteins and carbohydrates combine and form flavor molecules in hundreds of different combinations. This effect only occurs when the surface of the meat is dry, the temperature must therefore be above boiling point. The phenomenon is known as the Maillard effect.
Flavors are also added through changes in fat molecules in the oil and butter you are using.