For many people, medium rare is their ideal temperature for a steak. However, it can be difficult to achieve that temp when cooking at home. Hitting the sweet spot between rare and medium can be challenging, especially if you're working with premium Wagyu beef. Fortunately, a few helpful tips can set you on the right track and make it easier to get the perfect medium rare steak you're craving.
What Does a Medium Rare Steak Taste Like?
There are a number of reasons that medium rare is one of the most popular temperatures for cooking steak. A medium rare steak will have a good balance of texture and flavor. It still retains that natural tenderness of the beef and delivers a pink center that's juicy and flavorful.
What Is the Ideal Temperature for a Medium Rare Steak?
The perfect medium rare steak temp is 130° to 135° Fahrenheit. However, in most cases, you don't want to keep the steak on the heat until it reaches that temperature. This is because the steak will continue to cook for a few minutes after it comes out of the pan or off the grill.
Therefore, it's best to remove it from the heat at around 125° Fahrenheit. Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing into it. This allows the heat to slowly increase to the correct 130° to 135° medium rare temperature while also sealing in the juiciness of the steak. If you want to be sure that you've achieved the perfect temp, you can use a meat thermometer to check it again before serving.
Tips for Cooking a Medium Rare Steak
To cook a medium rare steak, you need to carefully monitor it while it's on the heat. This is one of the most important parts of the cooking process since the difference between being too rare or too overcooked can happen quickly.
After you add your steak to a hot pan, don't touch it while it's searing. By leaving it in place, you can get a better crust on the outside of the steak.
Check the steak and flip it over once the seared crust has developed. Depending on the type of steak, you can baste it with melted butter as it cooks for another two minutes. This helps to retain the moisture in the steak and adds richness to the flavor.
Once the second side has been seared, check the steak with a thermometer. You'll want it to be around 125° Fahrenheit when you take it off the heat. Transfer the steak to a plate and allow it to rest for at least five minutes before slicing and serving.
The Touch Test for Cooking Steak
One helpful guide for achieving the right temperature for your steak is the touch test. This is a technique used by many home chefs who want to estimate the doneness of their beef before they take it off the heat.
The concept is based on the way the steak feels when you press it with your finger. How firm it feels will correspond to the way your palm feels when pressing your thumb and one of your fingers together. With each finger, you should press the area of your palm right under your thumb to get an idea of how firm the steak should be for a specific temperature. Here's how it works:
- Thumb and index finger: Rare
- Thumb and middle finger: Medium rare
- Thumb and ring finger: Medium
- Thumb and pinky finger: Well done
How to Cook Wagyu Beef Properly
Compared to other types of beef, cooking times can be much faster with Wagyu beef. This is due to the intricate fat marbling within each steak, which appears almost like a white web or a series of veins that are fairly evenly distributed across the entire piece. Traditional American domestic beef, on the other hand, usually has a chewy fat cap. Wagyu's marbling is very thin, which means that it will melt much faster than the thicker fat caps found on other steaks.
Because of these factors, Wagyu beef cooks to a medium rare temperature at a faster rate than many other types of steaks. It's important to use the following tips to make sure that your Wagyu steaks are cooked evenly when trying to achieve a medium rare temp:
- Defrost in the fridge for 24 hours and then allow the steak to come to room temperature. It's best to thaw it slowly, so never run it under hot water or use the microwave.
- Pat the steak dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle kosher salt on all sides. This draws out some moisture to ensure that you get a nice crisp crust on the exterior when you pan sear it.
- Preheat your skillet before you put the steak in. It should be smoking hot before your Wagyu hits the pan. Wagyu cooks best very quickly over medium-high
The exact amount of time to cook your Wagyu steak on each side depends on the thickness of the cut. Thin strips cook much faster than a thick filet. The marbling of Wagyu beef also makes it more delicate, so pan searing is generally preferred to cooking Japanese Wagyu beef on the grill.