Choosing the best steak seasoning depends largely on the cut of steak. Tougher cuts such as flank, skirt or sirloin benefit from being marinated in seasoned liquids that infuse them with flavor while breaking down their fibers and muscle. Tender cuts like filet mignon taste better with simple seasonings.
Seasoning Choice Cuts
The best cuts of steaks are not only tender but also naturally flavored. Whether you are grilling, pan searing or broiling these types of steak, they should not be seasoned before cooking. If you salt them before cooking, they will turn grey during cooking as the salt draws moisture (water) from the steak and steams it instead of quickly sealing in the juices, which is how high temperature, dry heat cooking works. Cook the steak to the desired level of doneness, let it rest for five to ten minutes and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper right before serving. You can also add a dash of garlic powder to the surface of the finished steak for more flavor.
Flavoring Tougher Steaks
Tougher cuts of beef steak are tenderized by marinades, which also add flavor and depth to the meat. Store-bought teriyaki and soy sauces are good flavor enhancers that make steaks more tender, as are homemade marinades made from wine, juices, beer and wine vinegars enhanced with fresh and dried herbs and spices. Avoid marinating meats too long as they will start to fall apart and absorb so much of the seasonings that the taste of the steak is barely discernible.
Seasoning by Accompaniment
Serving steaks with sauces, gravies or toppings is an excellent way to season them. Wine-based sauces as well as those enhanced with richly flavored fruits like cherries or berries pair well with beef. Lightly seasoned gravies made from deglazing the cooking pan with white wine add flavor to steaks. Sautéed fresh mushrooms and caramelized onions bring out natural flavors.
Store shelves are full of marinades, sauces, rubs and special seasoning mixtures for steaks. The liquid products typically include acidic substances like vinegar or wine to tenderize the meat while penetrating the flesh with assorted herbs and spices. Rubs and steak seasoning products commonly include salt, red and black pepper, granulated garlic and onion, paprika, coriander, mustard seed and dehydrated parsley. The latter products can be used alone or to flavor homemade marinades and are recommended for less tender steaks.