If you’re not a vegetarian, we have a feeling that you’re a fan of steak. And why not? You should be. A hunk of beef, cut into a perfect portion, seasoned, and seared on a ripping hot grill or a cast-iron pan is one of the most delicious things you’ll ever eat, anywhere. But why, exactly, is steak so delicious? Here are some reasons:
Fat is flavor, as they say, and a well-marbled steak has plenty of it. That rich mouthfeel and strong flavor of beef is a hard one to not love.
We eat with both our nose and our eyes before our mouth, and when a gorgeous steak is placed in front of you, it smells really, really good. As we eat we continue to pick up all that aroma, creating a multi-layered sensory experience.
The Maillard Reaction
No, it’s not the name of a Robert Ludlum novel; the Maillard reaction is the complex chemical reaction that occurs when meat meets heat. As the meat begins to brown, the amino acids and carbohydrates in it create a wide range of chemical compounds that give it that deep, rich flavor and mahogany color.
The texture of a perfectly-cooked steak in your mouth is nearly impossible to describe. The slight chew, the tenderness, the juiciness… It all combines into a mouthful unlike any other.
Beef tastes good. It’s as simple as that. One reason is the presence of glutamates, which our brain interprets as the “meaty” flavor associated with umami. Our brains have been hard-wired over the course of thousands of years to enjoy the taste of beef, so we do.