Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cuts: What is a Sirloin Steak?

The biggest problem that steak lovers have is learning the many different words for different steaks.

None is more complicated that the "sirloin steak".

What exactly is a sirloin steak?

SUMMARY

A "sirloin steak" can mean any of eleven different steaks.  One of these is the very best and most expensive steak.  The other ten are not nearly as good and should be much less expensive.

Some markets, butchers and steak houses may foist off, on buyers who do not know better, one of the ten, inferior quality sirloin steaks as being a much better steak.  Therefore, steak buyers should never order a "sirloin steak".

Instead, steak buyers should order the specific "sirloin steak" that they want.

Informed buyers always ask questions, so they get the exact steak that they want and expect.

STRIP LOIN STEAK

In the UK and often in the US, the word "sirloin steak" is synonymous with the steak known variously as a strip steak, New York steak, Kansas City steak, etc.  In the US, the official name is "Beef Loin, Strip Loin Steak, Boneless", IMPS/NAMP Item No. 1180.

Many steak masters, including SteakPerfection, consider the strip loin steak to be the very best.  The strip loin steak, when the highest quality and properly aged, is the most expensive: more expensive than a comparable ribeye, tenderloin or porterhouse steak.

For more information on this meaning, see our blog on "What is a strip / New York / Kansas City steak?"

TEN STEAKS FROM THE SIRLOIN SUBPRIMAL

In most of the US, the word "sirloin steak" does not mean the strip loin steak but instead means one of ten different inferior quality steaks.  All ten steaks are cut from the subprimal "Beef Loin, Sirloin", IMPS/NAMP 181.  The names and IMPS/NAMP item numbers of these ten steaks are as follows.  The first four are bone-in sirloin steaks, and the last six are boneless sirloin steaks.
  1. Beef Loin Sirloin Steak, Pin Bone, first anterior bone-in cut from IMPS/NAMP 181
  2. Beef Loin Sirloin Steak, Flat Bone, second anterior bone-in cut from IMPS/NAMP 181
  3. Beef Loin Sirloin Steak, Round Bone, third anterior bone-in cut from IMPS/NAMP 181
  4. Beef Loin Sirloin Steak, Wedge Bone, four anterior (so last or posterior) bone-in cut from IMPS/NAMP 181
  5. Beef Loin, Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Boneless, IMPS/NAMP 1184
  6. Beef Loin, Top Sirloin Cap Steak, Boneless (also known as the Coulotte), IMPS/NAMP 1184D
  7. Beef Loin, Top Sirloin, ‘Baseball Cut’ Steak, IMPS/NAMP 1184F
  8. Beef Loin, Bottom Sirloin Butt, Flap Steak (also known as the bavette steak), IMPS/NAMP 1185A
  9. Beef Loin, Bottom Sirloin Butt, Ball Tip Steak, IMPS/NAMP 1185B
  10. Beef Loin, Bottom Sirloin Butt, Tri-Tip Steak, IMPS/NAMP 1185C
(Note that the Beef Loin, Top Sirloin, ‘Baseball Cut’ Steak, IMPS/NAMP 1184F, is a newly designated sirloin steak in the 2010 IMPS from the previous 1996 IMPS.)

For more information and pictures of these ten different sirloin steaks, see our SteakPerfection website.

CONCLUSION

Your local butcher, market or steak house may sell a "sirloin steak".  But that can mean any of eleven different steaks.  Maybe it means the highest quality, strip loin steak, but it could also mean a much lower quality tri-tip steak.

We at SteakPerfection love our tri-tip steak, but, all things being equal, we would never expect a tri-tip steak to be as flavorful, tender or juicy as a strip loin steak.  Nor would be pay nearly as much for a tri-tip steak as we would for a strip loin steak, which may cost six times more per pound.

Therefore
  • Never order a "sirloin steak"!
  • Be an informed buyer.
  • Know your steak cuts.
  • Ask questions.
  • Order the specific "sirloin steak" that you want and expect.
Enjoy!!

SteakPerfection

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