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Kent Wang

The "steak" cut of fish

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One usually sees salmon on sale in either filets or a "steak cut", which is a cross section of both sides of the fish. One can think of it as being perpendicular to the filet. What is the purpose of this cut? Is it really better for grilling? Why is it that I only see Atlantic salmon cut this way and never Pacific? I've also seen steak cuts for halibut and swordfish.

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Steak cuts of fish like that are very popular over here in the Netherlands. I can get halibut, hake, salmon, swordfish, and others that I can't think of right now, at my fishmonger.

I think it may have something to do with the fact that there is skin all around (as opposed to the fillet), which makes it easier to cook - at least that's what people will think, I don't necessarily agree - without the meat falling apart.

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The uniform thickness of a steak cut makes it easier to cook it . . . uniformly.

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I usually buy fillets but when I have had salmon cut in steaks I remove the vertebrae and associated bones and then pull the thin side meat into the middle to form a nice circle of meat in a kind of trussed method. Presents well and cooks even that way.

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Kent, I live on the central California coast and the fish mongers here sell wild-caught Pacific salmon in both fillet and steak cuts. The steaks are easier to handle on the grill and generally cost $1 per pound less than the fillets.

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in NL it's called 'tenderloin' cut. the choicest cut, and is priced accordingly, too! [as Chufi has explained above.]

i love it and don't mind the cost, ever!!! :)

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I can't speak for Texas, Kent, but most Atlantic salmon I see comes from Pacific northeast farms. The striated fat layers make a very attractive steak presentation when raw, and the bone structure allows for easy flipping. Snce most ends up on the BBQ, the marketers have a good plan.

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in NL it's called 'tenderloin' cut.  the choicest cut, and is priced accordingly, too!  [as Chufi has explained above.] 

i love it and don't mind the cost, ever!!! :)

BonVivant which Dutch word is used for 'tenderloin'?

The word I usually see for these cuts is 'moot', = slice.

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[Chufi and i are exchanging English and Dutch terms for cuts of fish.]

tenderloin=haas. also used for one of the choicest meat cuts.

yes, 'moot' is a slice but more specifically a [thick] slice across the thickest part [near the gills. the other end is called staart stuk. however, monkfish [zeeduivel] is called monkfish tail. [i'd love to eat the meat in the head too though if they'd sell me the thing]

btw, i've got a brilliant book that lists terms for most things edible in NL in both English and NL. however, cuts of meats are most confusing! apparently one person says this cut is called such and in another country it's called something else.

cheers

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I usually buy fillets but when I have had salmon cut in steaks I remove the vertebrae and associated bones and then pull the thin side meat into the middle  to form a nice circle of meat in a kind of trussed method.  Presents well and cooks even that way.

Alton Brown has a method of prepping salmon steaks, described in this recipe, that takes this circle method even further, so that you wind up with a neatly-packaged "filet mignon"-like shape. However, I confess to being lazy and not usually bothering.

I really really love the steak cut for fish. With a fillet, I always have to mind the tapered ends, which not only cook much faster because they're thinner, but are also more fragile. With steaks, I do have to mind those belly-flap bits (which I was too lazy to batten down), but otherwise I find them a bit more forgiving of my ineptitudes with the spatula.

Plus I just really dig eating a nice thick steak-like chunk o' fish. :smile:

(For what it's worth, every time I've seen the big-eye carp on sale at my local 99 Ranch Market, it's been pre-cut into thick steaks.)

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Hmm, I very commonly see 'steak cut' salmon here in the Seattle area. It is popular to serve halibut that way as well.

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As a cultural trend, at least in the US, fish steaks -- especially swordfish, salmon and tuna -- seem to have come into favor at a time when Americans were still being taught to like fish. The thick, meat-like appearance of the fish steaks got a lot of people to like fish. Fish steaks were such a success that the fish-you-can-make-steaks-from have mostly pushed the fish-you-can-only-fillet out of the market. Nobody wants to deal with skin and bones anymore. It's like the way we buy meat: we just want easy, solid, thick, even flesh wrapped in plastic on little styrofoam trays.

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There is also the believe that cooking meat and fish on the bone gives it a better flavor.

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"absolutely nothing!!!

...Say it again"

sorry for the diversion but i have to get to my fishmonger early after he's been into Fulton Fish Market in NY to BEG him for the back end of the halibut - filleted (plus the bones of course) - or he has steaked it all out.

i can still get salmon either way which is fortunate since i am about tp try my first smoked salmon side as a surprise for johnnybird

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Posted (edited)

The other day my doctor called.  Mentioned cholesterol.  She told me I should eat more fish.  And particularly dropped the name of salmon.  (Sorry if too much information.)

 

Accordingly I placed an order with Prime Now.  What arrived last night was a lovely looking fillet of approximately 1.2 pounds.  Because 1.2 pounds is more salmon than I could eat at one sitting I cut a strip from the small end of the fillet as shown below:

 

Dinner03232019.png

 

 

To my eye this cut looks awfully like half a salmon steak.  And still more fish than I need for one serving.

 

I've been reading up on salmon butchery:  The Japanese Culinary Academy volume Mukoita I has eight pages on the subject.  But still I am puzzled.  For preparing a portion for grilling would it be appropriate to cut the strip at a right angle through the thickest part of the fillet?  That would leave something looking like what is sold as tuna or swordfish steak.  (Except, obviously, not swordfish.)*

 

Does this make sense?  Or would cutting in this fashion only ruin a lovely fillet?

 

 

*nor tuna.

 


Edited by JoNorvelleWalker (log)

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@JoNorvelleWalker A related question is "How do restaurants serve a big square lump of salmon without wasting the thinner edges of the filet?"

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1 minute ago, gfweb said:

@JoNorvelleWalker A related question is "How do restaurants serve a big square lump of salmon without wasting the thinner edges of the filet?"

 

"[A] salmon croquette..."*  That or the staff meal.

 

 

*Benjamin Dreyer, Dreyer's English (p180)

 

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I think it is a matter of personal taste. I don't like "steaks". I like to flake off the flesh- lightly cooked. Long story short - experiment. When my buddy woud bring me fillets from his Alaska trips they were usually portioned perhaps for two. They had a skin side and a flesh side. Perhaps there is a definition issue -I think of steaks as sliced directly through the fish in a head to tail through short side of the fish at maybe an inch or so. I tend to broil my salmon and put the fillets on foil with the thin edges covered so they don't overcook.  

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34 minutes ago, heidih said:

I think it is a matter of personal taste. I don't like "steaks". I like to flake off the flesh- lightly cooked. Long story short - experiment. When my buddy woud bring me fillets from his Alaska trips they were usually portioned perhaps for two. They had a skin side and a flesh side. Perhaps there is a definition issue -I think of steaks as sliced directly through the fish in a head to tail through short side of the fish at maybe an inch or so. I tend to broil my salmon and put the fillets on foil with the thin edges covered so they don't overcook.  

 

I'm with you on fillets vs. steaks.  But if I cut a fillet slice thin enough to make a reasonable portion of a few ounces, it would be about half to three quarter inch in width, and would probably fall over during grilling.  Remember the piece shown is sliced from the smaller end of the fillet I received.

 

@gfweb I really have no idea how a salmon fillet would be portioned for grilling in a restaurant.  What would be wrong with cutting a slice from the fillet piece in half as I described above?

 

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7 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I'm with you on fillets vs. steaks.  But if I cut a fillet slice thin enough to make a reasonable portion of a few ounces, it would be about half to three quarter inch in width, and would probably fall over during grilling.  Remember the piece shown is sliced from the smaller end of the fillet I received.

 

@gfweb I really have no idea how a salmon fillet would be portioned for grilling in a restaurant.  What would be wrong with cutting a slice from the fillet piece in half as I described above?

 

 

Nothing at all, but that's not the shape I often see in a portion of restaurant salmon.  I see a square/rectangle of decent thickness with no tapering.

 

Perhaps they get them pre-portioned and the fish guy uses the trimmings for something.  But that doesn't seem like its very economical.

 

Perhaps I'm over-thinking.

 

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A fish is long. (well da...).

My take on it all is:

If you take a piece from the side or bottom or top its a fillet. The piece usually does not include the back bone. Generally a fillet is the whole side of the fish, but you can divide it further longitudinally or  cut it into pieces.

Generally a fish steak is a portion of fish cut crosswise right through and includes part of the backbone.

 

You can cut a fillet crosswise and produce a steak but it is not going to very big unless the fish was pretty big to start with. You could cut the fillet at an angle but that is generally still a fillet.

If you look at a fillet then you will notice a "grain" This is because the flesh is muscle and like meat is laid down in bundles longitudinally. When you cook fish the bundle covering generally disappears (same as in most meats).

 

When you cook a fish steak, the bundle coverings are heated from the ends and then not uniformly. They may not cook to the point that they disappear, leaving the texture a little like meat steak. Cook a fillet and the bundle covering uniformly disappears and the flesh texture becomes flaky. In very soft fish it may become mushy. The angle you cut the fillet will has an effect on the size of the flakes

 

Well does it mean anything? Probably not. There is probably a difference in texture but a lot of fish is over cooked so the texture all merges regardless of the way it was cut. A lot depends on the fish itself and whether its fresh and firm.

 

You probably get a difference in flavor if cooking with the backbone in.

 

It is so easy to overcook fish. Think what you are trying to achieve. For me I would cut the "steak" a little thicker and sear both sides to get the lovely caramelized surface. However if the skin is still on and you want it crisp then the fish may end up overcooked as you would be cooking on 3 sides. Perhaps peel the skin off and fry it separately?

 

Just as an aside, I believe  the surgeon general originally recommended a cholesterol level of 6 but some of the drug companies lobbied politicians to make the recommendation 4.5. This produced roughly double the profits from the anti cholesterol drugs. The jury is still out as to whether cholesterol  is a cause of heart disease or is result of heart disease. Do what your doctor recommends NOT what some bozo (me) on the internet says.

 

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1 minute ago, gfweb said:

 

Nothing at all, but that's not the shape I often see in a portion of restaurant salmon.  I see a square/rectangle of decent thickness with no tapering.

 

Perhaps they get them pre-portioned and the fish guy uses the trimmings for something.  But that doesn't seem like its very economical.

 

Perhaps I'm over-thinking.

 

 

Possibly height, width, and depth are confusing when it comes to fish.  I would like to fabricate a fillet piece much as you describe.  For a fillet piece I would define "width" as the distance along the cephalic/caudal axis; height (or length) as the distance along the dorsal/ventral axis; depth* (or thickness) as the distance along the axis from the outside in.  I know when it comes to depth I am out of mine.  And let's not get into flatfish.  But the thickness of my fillet is well more than an inch.

 

If I trim the fillet along the dorsal/ventral axis I could make a wider portion of the same weight.  Or I could simply cook a wider portion and not eat all of it.  But if the piece is not wide enough it will be difficult to cook.  The fish was not inexpensive and I'd prefer trimmings not go to waste.

 

 

*I believe this term is anatomically correct.

 

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One thing you could do with the slab of salmon. Cut it in quarters. One cut longways, one cut crosswise. Every piece then has skin on. Then cook it skin side down. I think that is what a lot of restaurants do, probably because they cannot get a suitable size steak and the full width fillet is too big.

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3 minutes ago, Bernie said:

One thing you could do with the slab of salmon. Cut it in quarters. One cut longways, one cut crosswise. Every piece then has skin on. Then cook it skin side down. I think that is what a lot of restaurants do, probably because they cannot get a suitable size steak and the full width fillet is too big.

 

That's what I was trying to say in my first post.

 

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I wonder if the restaurants might tie the (lightly) trimmed section of  salmon filet to plump it up and make it a more uniform thickness.  I've been known to do that with beef tenderloin

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