For some people, steak is steak. It doesn't matter whether it's flank steak or skirt steak.
Here's what you should know. Both types of steak are long and odd-looking beef meat. And they have some characteristics that confuse many people.
Let’s look at how they’re alike and the ways in which they differ.
Flank Steak vs Skirt Steak - Similarities
When comparing the flank and skirt steak, you will notice that, despite the two steaks having some differences, they have important similarities. Both steaks come from cow meat, and they share the same long and odd appearance.
With both flank and skirt steaks, meat is cut against the grain when serving and eating. This style of cutting makes it easier to chew.
Another similarity is that they are both prepared using the same methods. They can both be grilled, stir-fried, stuffed, or seared. Likewise, marinating works well for both steaks, resulting in a much tender and tastier dish.
When eating both steaks, you can consume them as a whole or cut them into long strips. Slicing them lets you make great sandwiches or fajitas and burritos.
While you can use the skirt and flank steaks interchangeably, there are some distinct differences:
Where are they cut from?
Flank steak is cut from the flank of a cow, which is its side, just below the ribs.
This meat has a lot of hard-working muscles and tough fibers that see a lot of action as the animal twists and walks. It’s also the leaner cut because of these long muscle fibers that run through it.
Unlike skirt, it cooks well on the grill and can even be juicier (and more tender) when cooked properly.
Skirt steak is long flat meat that's cut from the muscle inside the chest, usually the area below the abdominal cavity. It has a lot of tough fibers. So, why the name "skirt"?
It's because the meat is cut from the diaphragm muscles of the cow. And it can be the outside skirt, or the transverse abdominal muscle, or the inside skirt.
Unlike the flank steak, skirt steak is thinner and less lean.
Flavor and texture
From the looks alone, you cannot notice that flank steak is more tender than skirt steak. You can only perceive this when you bite into the two types of steak. Although both steaks are tasty, skirt steak outdoes the flank.
If you have a weak tooth, you'd better opt for the flank steak next time you go to the butcher.
Go for the skirt steak if you need a more intense beef flavor. It will not disappoint you.
The toughness may be a challenge, but that should not worry you. You can marinate your cut for about half an hour then cook it over high heat to make it more tender.
When serving, cutting it against the grain will make it much easier to chew.
There are many ways of preparing flank steak. You can grill it, cook it in a skillet on the stovetop, sear it, cut it into small slices, and stir-fry it to your desired outcome.
However, the best way to prepare flank steak is to cook it quickly over high heat.
Marinating not only makes your steak tender but also tastier, especially if you're using natural ingredients rather than processed ones. A lot of delicious recipes encourage people never to cook flank steak beyond medium rare.
Don't follow these guidelines zealously. Consider who is going to eat the steak. If you are cooking for small children or anyone in their golden years, then you will need to cook it thoroughly. Marinating your flank steak makes it less chewy.
The cooked flank steak is good on its own with a salad, or you can serve it with fajitas and burritos.
Since skirt steak is tough, it will generally take longer to cook until it's tender. But if you marinate this meat, you can opt for your preferred cooking style, be it searing, grilling, or stir-frying it.
Most people prefer cooking it over medium heat. You should not worry if your source of heat is slow; you can still slow-cook it and then braise. People often eat skirt steak with salad while others use the classic cut to make great fajitas.
Which is Better ?
Choosing between these two steaks is more about picking which cut suits the dish you'd like to prepare.
Skirt should be your first choice for foods like cheesesteak, bibimbap, and fajitas.
Flank has a fantastic beefy flavor yet still tender enough to be rolled and stuffed or cooked hot and fast.
Skirt and flank are common cuts of beef, though people sometimes confuse them. When you know what characterizes them, what recipes to use, and how to prepare them, you can produce fantastic meals.
The main difference between both steaks is their toughness.
Flank steak is more tender, less tasty, and cut from a different part of the cow. It's also cooked in higher heat. On the other hand, skirt steak is tougher than flank steak, and best cooked in medium heat.
If you prefer a slice of tender meat, go with the flank steak, but if you want intense beef flavor, skirt steak is the right choice for you.
However, both steaks require a lot more effort than your standard beef and may be less forgiving when you cook them incorrectly. All in all, they are worth the effort especially if you fancy beefy flavor with a meaty chew.