Rinse the salt off a steak before cooking


I've been trying to perfect my technique for cooking a steak indoors.

It was recommended to salt the steak about 30 minutes before cooking. I used kosher salt, and cooked the steak on cast iron. Everything came out spectacularly, in fact it was the best steak I've ever made myself. However, the outer layer of the steak was significantly saltier than I think is normal. It didn't ruin the steak, but it was more than I would have liked. I would simply assume that I over-salted, but given the language people use when they recommend the technique, and the amount I actually applied, I am unsure. I fear that if I use less salt next time I will lose the perfect sear/crust and the incredible flavor of the interior meat that I achieved.

So, given the similarity to brining poultry (in which case the meat is rinsed before cooking), I wonder if the salt should be rinsed off before cooking? I didn't get this impression from any of the recommendations, but now I am not so sure.

Best Answer

Definitely don't rinse the salt off. One of the nice things the salt does is pull juices to the surface of the meat--not enough to dry things out, but enough so that when the steak hits the hot pan you have a nice protein-laden coating (it's called a pellicle when talking about smoked fish--not sure about steaks) on the outside to caramelize. If you rinse it, you're rinsing that right off.

If your steak was too salty, then just salt more lightly. You don't need a ton, as what you get on there will melt some and mix with the juices and spread out. I think I probably use 1/4 tsp or less per side, and some of that bounces off/misses. And you won't lose the crust with less salt--you won't even lose it with NO salt. It's just easier to get if you use the salt to pull some juices to the surface.

If you have trouble getting good salt distribution, use your fingers and sprinkle it from a little farther up--like 8 inches from the steak. That'll make it easier to get an even sprinkle without dousing it.