Do You Wash Steak Before Marinating?

Do You Wash Steak Before Marinating?
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Do You Wash Steak Before Marinating?

We all know that steak is an expensive cut of beef so we want to get the flavor, cooking technique, and doneness right.

Some tender types of steak, such as tenderloin and rump, require no marinating at all while other tougher cuts benefit greatly from being marinated for a few hours.

Marinating steak is a useful technique as it will help to soften and tenderize the tough fibers. It can also add a flavor kick depending on what ingredients are used.

You probably have heard that you should wash or wipe down chicken before marinating it, so you may be wondering if you need to wash steak before marinating it as well.

Here, we will address this question and try to explain the reasons behind washing the steak (or any other type of meat) or not.

Do You Wash Steak Before Marinating It?

Generally speaking, washing meat before marination is not considered good practice. Why?

Washing it will increase the risk of cross-contamination. Washing meat does not remove all the bacteria from its surface.

Instead, the splashing of bloody, contaminated water around the sink area can spread bacteria to surrounding work surfaces, kitchen utensils, hands, kitchen shelves, dishes, or other foods in the vicinity.

What should you do instead?

Take a clean, disposable kitchen cloth and soak it in vinegar or lemon juice. Wipe the steak down on all sides with this. This will remove any debris and excess bacteria because the acidity in these liquids is strongly anti-bacterial. 

Discard the cloth and wash your hands. Your steak is now hygienic and ready for marinating.

Female hand squeezing half of lemon
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What is a marinade?

A marinade is a liquid made with flavorful and tenderizing ingredients that are used to soak cuts of meat in for a few hours to overnight. A well-balanced marinade contains salt, flavoring, oil, and acid.

For instance, you may make a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, olive oil, and salt. The vinegar serves to tenderize the meat while the other ingredients add flavor and moistness.

I’ve wiped my steak down; why should I marinate It?

Some steak recipes allow you to simply season and cook the meat and skip the marinating step. Others insist that you prepare a marinade and essentially soak the meat in it for a few hours before cooking it.

This is time-consuming and you may wonder if it is really necessary.

  • Marinate if you need extra tenderness. Cheaper beef cuts are tough and acid-based marinades or those containing enzymes like those in papaya help to dissolve the tough fibers.
  • Marinate if you need more flavor. Some beef cuts don’t have a very “beefy” flavor so a marinade adds a bit of extra umami.

What types of steak need marinating after being wiped down?

Less expensive cuts of steak benefit the most from marinating. These include

cut of beef
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To conclude

Washing any kind of meat, including steak, before cooking, marinating, or freezing may lead to cross-contamination, especially if a running tap in the sink is used.

Droplets will spread bacteria from the meat to other surfaces like cooking utensils. This can make you and your family very ill.

To avoid this, simply wipe down the steaks with a vinegar or lemon juice-soaked cloth before marinating or cooking it.

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