You’ll often see a chef cook a piece of steak in oil and finish it off with garlic, butter, thyme, and rosemary. By bathing the steak in the butter, you impart a specific flavor to the steak that the oil itself may not be able to do.
So what’s the point of using oil in the first place, and is sesame oil good for searing steak?
Steak is seared in a hot skillet with oil in order to create the Maillard effect. However, only certain oils, such as sesame oil, can hold up to the high heat required in order to cook the steak. This is due to the high smoke point of sesame oil, which prevents it from burning during the cooking process and enables the Maillard effect.
Can you cook a steak with sesame oil
You can absolutely cook a steak in sesame oil, provided that it is refined sesame oil. Refined sesame oil has a high smoke point of 410°F (210°C).
How much sesame oil should be used when searing a steak
When searing a steak, you do not require too much oil. In fact, a light drizzle into a very hot cast-iron skillet should do the trick. There are chefs that recommend not putting the oil in the pan but on the steak instead.
This helps to prevent the steak from sticking to the scorching hot pan/cast iron skillet when searing the steak.
Keep in mind that all oils will react the same when the oil is heated up beyond its smoke point. It will start to smoke and then burn. You cannot salvage the oil after it has gone past its smoke point and the best thing to do is to discard the oil.
Benefits of searing a steak in sesame oil
The first and most obvious benefit is that this oil will help you to achieve that beautiful sear and delicious taste that is achieved through the Maillard effect.
Also, keep in mind, that the sesame seed oil itself will not impart any flavor to the steak. The flavor that the steak obtains is produced entirely through the Maillard effect.
Another key benefit of using sesame oil to sear a steak is that the oil is filled with many vitamins and other health benefits that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sesame seed oil cooking methods
Sesame seed oil is ideal for pan searing steak, rubbing on the steak before BBQing the meat, or simply sauteing the meat. When it comes to shallow pan-frying, you may still be able to use sesame seed oil.
Always keep in mind, though, that some cooking methods may require that the meat be cooked beyond the 410°F (210°C) that the sesame oil can be heated up to. In these cases, it is always best to review the recipe and the cooking instructions to make sure that sesame oil is still the ideal oil of choice, as there may be other oils that would be more suited to cooking meat beyond 410°F (210°C).
As this oil is ideal for medium-high cooking, such as in the case of sauteing, you can rest assured that sauteing meat with sesame oil is absolutely fine.
Grilling with sesame oil
When the weather is great, grilling outdoors is always a better alternative to heating up the kitchen.
When grilling meat with sesame oil, there are specific steps that need to be followed. Heat up the grill from 450°F to 500°F (232°C to 260°C). Take a clean rag and spray some sesame oil on the rage. Using tongs, rub the rag over the clean grill grates. Or, alternatively, you could put some sesame oil on a paper towel and rub that over the grill grates.
Be careful not to use too much oil as this could cause a fire. Keep in mind that the grill may be very hot, so take caution when doing this so as not to burn.
Once the oil is on the grill and the grill is hot enough, place your steaks on and grill each side for approximately three to five minutes. The oil helps to prevent the steak from sticking to the grill grate.
Cooking steak in a cast-iron skillet with sesame oil
You could marinate your meat in sesame oil, salt, and pepper, up to an hour before cooking.
Put the stove on medium-high heat and wait for the skillet to heat up, making sure it gets to the desired temperature. This should take about five minutes. You have the option to add a few drops of oil to the skillet. But, this is not required.
Place the steak in the skillet and cook on each side for approximately one minute, on each side for rare and up to five minutes on each side for a well done steak.
Cooking steak in the oven with sesame oil
Heat up the stovetop to high heat. This should take around five to seven minutes.
Brush the steak lightly with sesame oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Sear the steak on each side for one minute and use tongs to turn the steak over.
Transfer the cast iron pan to the oven and broil the steak until it has reached the desired doneness. You could test the steak using a thermometer. Stick the thermometer on the thickest part of the steak.
For example, if the internal temperature is 125 °F, then your steak is rare. If the internal temperature reads 145 °F, then the meat is medium and 160 °F internal temperature means that the steak is well done.
What is smoke point important when cooking steak with sesame oil?
The smoke point of oil refers to the highest possible temperature that the oil can be heated up to before it starts to smoke and ultimately burn. Different cooking oils have different smoke points, with more refined cooking oils having the highest smoke points.
Refining an oil means removing the fatty acids that may cause the oil to burn quickly and this type of oil generally has a neutral taste and a clear, light appearance.
When cooking on a traditional stove at home, most meats can be roasted, pan fried, seared, or sauteed at temperatures ranging between 250 °F and 400°F (121°C and 204°C). This makes sesame seed oil ideal for pan searing and sauteing meat. But if you want to find out which is the best oil for cooking steak, check out this post here!
What is sesame oil
According to WebMD.com, sesame oil is derived from raw toasted sesame seeds and is an edible vegetable oil with a rich, aromatic flavor. It may not be quite as popular in Western cultures as canola oil, olive oil, or avocado oil, but it is very popular in eastern and middle eastern cooking methods.
This oil is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, containing a healthy amount of vitamin E as well as phytosterols. This is a popular choice of oil for sauteing meats and other food types.
Pure sesame oil, on the other hand, is made from uncooked, pressed sesame seeds and is available in both refined and unrefined versions. This type of sesame oil has a very mild flavor. This is an important aspect as refined oils have a higher smoking point, which makes these oils ideal choices when cooking meat.