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A steak is a meat generally sliced across the muscle fibers, potentially including a bone. Exceptions, in which the meat is sliced parallel to the fibers, include the skirt steak cut from the plate, the flank steak cut from the abdominal muscles, and the silverfinger steak cut from the loin and includes three rib bones. In a larger sense, fish steaks, ground meat steaks, pork steak, and many more varieties of steak are known.

Steak is usually grilled, but can be pan-fried. It is often grilled in an attempt to replicate the flavor of steak cooked over the glowing coals of an open fire. Steak can also be cooked in sauce, such as in steak and kidney pie, or minced and formed into patties, such as hamburgers.

Steaks are often cut from grazing animals, usually farmed, other than cattle, including bison, camel, goat, horse, kangaroo, sheep, ostrich, pigs, reindeer, turkey, deer, and zebu, as well as various types of fish, especially salmon and large pelagic fish such as swordfish, shark, and marlin. For some meats, such as pork, lamb and mutton, chevon, and veal, these cuts are often referred to as chops. Some cured meat, such as gammon, is commonly served as steak.

Grilled portobello mushroom may be called mushroom steak, and similarly for other vegetarian dishes. Imitation steak is a food product that is formed into a steak shape from various pieces of meat. Grilled fruits such as watermelon have been used as vegetarian steak alternatives.

Beef steaks are commonly grilled or occasionally fried. Grilled beef steaks can be cooked at different temperatures, or for different lengths of time; the resulting cooked steak ranges from blue (very rare) to overdone. The most common characteristics of a rare steak is a soft, cold, red center. The outside is seared for flavor, while the inside is cooked to suit the diner's preference. Steaks cooked well done are usually cooked throughout the entire cut of meat. For example, a beefsteak cooked well done will not have any pinkness in the middle when sliced. Uncooked beef steak can be served raw, such as in steak tartare.

Fish steaks are generally cooked for a short time, as the flesh cooks quickly, especially when grilled. Fish steaks, such as tuna, can also be cooked to various temperatures, such as rare and medium rare. The different cuts of steak are - rib eye, sirloin, tenderloin, rump, porterhouse, and t-bone.

Cuts of steak are quite dissimilar between countries owing to different methods of cutting up the carcass. The result is that a steak found in one country is not the same as in another, although the recipes may be the same, differing "only in their sauces, butters, or garnitures".

Most important is trying to achieve Maillard reaction on meat to ensure that restaurant-quality steak results each time.

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