For The Thinnest Shaved Steak, Freeze Your Meat First

For a lot of people, a perfect steak looks like a thick slab of meat with a perfectly red-pink interior, but if you love sandwiches above all else, you know a pile of thinly shaved steak, crisped at the edges and hot off a griddle, can be just as beautiful. Maybe it's for a Philly cheesesteak, or maybe its going over rice for Korean bulgogi, but quickly seared, savory, and tender shaved steak is one of the best uses for beef we have — and it's a great option for using cheaper cuts too. 

The only problem is that tender part. A lot of us have had the experience of biting into a too-thick piece of steak and struggling to gnaw through it; one of the least flattering looks in dining. If you want that sliced steak to work in any recipe, you've got to get it nice and thin so that it gives way like warm butter. But that presents its own problem. Unless you are a professional butcher or a true die hard, you probably don't have a meat slicer capable of producing paper-thin shaved steak. So, we need to turn to the freezer.

At room temperature beef is just too soft and squishy to be sliced easily with a knife. Putting it in the freezer firms it up and makes getting clean slices a lot easier. Frozen beef will let you get consistent shavings instead of irregular hunks, ensuring perfectly cooked, tender steak.

Partially frozen meat and a sharp knife will get you perfectly thin shaved steak

One thing you don't want to do is completely freeze your steak, which can make it too tough to cut through. Instead, you are going for a nice middle ground. This can happen in as little as 15 to 20 minutes, but you can leave your steak in the freezer for up to an hour before it starts to get too frozen. Beyond that, it's as simple as can be: First, pat your steak dry so it doesn't develop ice crystals, then put your steak on some parchment, set it in the freezer, and wait. Once it's firm, slice it as thin as possible against the grain.

Even if you do partially freeze your steak to shave it, you're going to need a sharp knife to make this work. You should be using a classic chef's knife or butcher's knife, and it should be able to slice cleanly into the firm steak without much pressure. A dull knife won't just struggle to make thin cuts but, on a cold steak, it also increases the chance of slipping and cutting yourself. If you are not sure whether your knife is ready, one way to test knife sharpness is with vegetables like onions and tomatoes. Once your beef is cold and firm and your knife is sharp, you'll be ready to put that shaved steak to all kinds of tasty uses.